The Arabic novel writes the history of the nation-state in the form of novelised autobiography, biography biographical dictionary of prophets, political leaders, heroes of Islam, and the common folk. As it does so, it confronts the Arab mythical past, unravels the mystique of its power and attempts to lessen its burden on the present. Naguib Mahfouz, heir to the project of the nationalisation of history begun in the nineteenth century, such as 'Ali Mubarak, explores mythification in the tradition of biblical and Islamic tales of the prophets in Children of the Alley (Awlad haratina), and shows how the past is reified and acquires the status of myth. History is the story of selective remembering and forgetting and is as such personal and open to infinite rewriting.
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