Literatur-Nobelpreisträger Nagib Machfus über Jürgen Stryjak: Der folgende Beitrag erschien am 16. August 2001 in der ägyptischen Wochenzeitung "Al-Ahram Weekly" und kurz zuvor auf Arabisch in der Tageszeitung "Al-Ahram".

Naguib Mahfouz

A German in Bab Al-Futouh


When I met a German press correspondent who had spent some time in Egypt, arriving 10 years ago (sadly, I have forgotten his name), I was surprised to discover that he was an avid reader of Arabic literature. Even before he arrived, he had read all the Arabic literature in German translation that he could lay his hands on, and in the course of his stay he learned standard Arabic to be able to read more. However excellent the translation, he insisted, there are aspects of an original Arabic composition that can never be rendered adequately in another language.

What pleased me most of all was this unique German's capacity for engaging with every detail of life in the popular residential quarters - unlike many of his colleagues and fellow expatriates. When he first arrived in Cairo, he shunned the modern neighbourhoods, preferring to live among working-class people in Bab Al- Futouh. Fatimid Cairo, he said, is loaded with history; what pleasure to be part of the day-to-day dynamics of such a time-honoured historical location. The modern areas, despite all the comforts and amenities they offer, had left him cold.

The connection had been established long before he set foot on Egyptian soil. Here is yet another example of how literature can alter a person's outlook on life, transcending national and even cultural barriers. His first encounters with the popular quarters, whose way of life he came to cherish, took place while reading books like my Trilogy and Khan Al-Khalili, in which, he added kindly, the popular life of Cairo comes across authentically and exercises its own charm. Such charm, I need not add, emanates from the location, not from my books. Still, it was good to know one had spread the word so well.

Based on an interview by Mohamed Salmawy

Veröffentlicht in "Al-Ahram Weekly", 16. August 2001, Kairo/Ägypten. Die Schreibweise des Namen des Dichters am Anfang des Textes entspricht jener, die die "Al-Ahram Weekly" verwendete.