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Religion in the Egyptian Novel

Christina Phillips

Hardback (Forthcoming)

Charts the struggle between religious and secular discourse in the Egyptian novel

This is an in-depth, original survey of religion in the modern Arabic novel. Tracing the relationship from the genesis of the form in the early 20th century to present, Phillips provides a thematic exploration of the push and pull between religion and secularism as it played out on the pages of the Egyptian novel. Through close readings of representative texts, the book reveals the manifold ways in which Islam, Christianity, Sufism, myth, ritual and intertext have engaged in modern Arabic literature and culture more broadly.

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Part One
1. Introduction: Religion and the Novel
2. The Religious Other
3. The Secular Scripture

Part Two
4. Introduction: Religion, the Egyptian Novel, and the New Literary Sensibility
5. Intertextual Dialogues
6. The Coptic Theme
7. Mystical Dimensions
8. Feminist Perspectives



About the Author

Christina Phillips is Senior Lecturer of Arabic Literature and Media at the University of Exeter.


This is one of the best books on modern Arabic novel written in English. The width of its scope, covering its trajectory from birth to the present, is matched by the depth and sensitivity of its insightful close-reading of key texts. In its exploration of the novel’s dialectical interaction with religion, it sheds as much light on the course of its changing forms and textual strategies, as on the transmutations of Islam and Christianity in the perception of its writers and readers. It also uses diverse critical approaches which places its critical contribution firmly in the current debates of modern critical theory from Delueze to Said, and from feminism to post-colonial and secular criticism. This will soon be an essential reading for the students of modern Arabic literature as well as those interested in the current-affairs of the turbulent Arab world.

- Sabry Hafez, SOAS University of London

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