Ramza

Out El Kouloub, Author, Out El Kouloub, Author, Nayra Atiya, Translator Syracuse University Press $19.95 (201p) ISBN 978-0-8156-0280-4
For Atiya, translating Ramza is clearly a labor of love, a journey back to her own Egyptian childhood. Starting from Egyptian writer Out el Kouloub's (1892-1968) stark French original, Atiya has added not only the odd adjective but also detailed descriptions from her own childhood memories to create, as she says in her introduction, ``an ornamented translation.'' But the tender evocation of the past should not disguise the fact that this is a feminist novel. Written in 1958 as one of five novels portraying Egyptian women from varying social classes, it depicts Ramza, the daughter of a Serbian slave and a wealthy Egyptian. Born at the turn of the century to a cloistered harem life, Ramza's politically liberal father nevertheless encourages her education. Only when she reaches a marriageable age does Ramza realize that her father's liberalism does not extend to chosing a spouse. Having fallen in love with the brother of a friend, Ramza rebels against her father and the complicated traditions that seem to thwart her, eventually becoming a cause celebre pitting traditionalists against modernizers and British occupiers against anticolonialists. The first half of the book carefully details the inner life of the harem, a life that was benighted and restricted but also protected and privileged. It is by juxtaposition with this earlier, easier life that the sacrifices Ramza makes become doubly poignant. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 201 pages - 978-0-8156-2618-3
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