The Beggar

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The Beggar
Naguib Mahfouz
Published in 1965.
The main character of this novel is Omar al-Hamzawi. He is a big, broad man, and 45 years of age. The book opens with him going to visit a doctor, who is one of his close friends from his youth. Omar describes his predicament to Mustapha al-Minyawi, the doctor, and we learn that he has become sick of life. Omar is a very successful lawyer, with a beautiful wife and two daughters. They are wealthy and live a relaxed life, though before Omar’s “illness,” he was a workaholic, but only because that’s what he loved doing. Now, however, Omar is lethargic and can’t find meaning or happiness in life. We then learn that in his youth Omar was a poet and a socialist. He gave up both in order to become a
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The theme of The Beggar is the failure to find meaning in life and existence. This is what the main character, Omar, struggles with for the whole novel. In the beginning, Omar visits a doctor and explains his situation, ‘“The problem is very serious. I don’t want to think, to move, or to feel. Everything is disintegrating and dying. My hope n coming here was to find some physical cause.”’ Omar’s problems only get worse from here. Soon he grows restless with his wife, and loses interest in her. He tries to escape his condition by distracting himself with love, hoping that initial passion will kill the illness. Only one morning at dawn, does he get relief. For a second, he is overcome with a revelation of joy, but it does not last long at all, and he cannot re-create it. When nothing works, he decides to outcast himself to the countryside hoping he will experience the euphoria without distraction. By this point Omar slips in to insanity, having hallucinations about the devil, ‘The devil has plated havoc with the dream. Ecstasy has become a curse, and paradise a stage for fools. I lay there submissively, no longer trying to resist, then raised my head slightly to look around. A willow recited a line of poetry, a cow approached and stated she was giving up the milk business in order to study chemistry, a spotted snake crept forward, darted out his poisonous fang, then proceeded to dance merrily. A fox stood
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