A Poetic Crisis: The Abject in Naguib Mahfouz's The Beggar

Areen Khalifeh


This article discusses the abject in Naguib Mahfouz's The Beggar, and how it is related to the poetic crisis of its protagonist. It uses Julia Kristeva's definition of the abject, which means an impure maternal element and a negative force, and its related term, abjection, which refers to being on a liminal space between the animalistic and the cultural and between the semiotic and the symbolic. Because Omar Hamzawi quit writing poetry, he could not sublimate the abject other within him. Immersed in the abject, he suffers from symptomatic depression and he himself becomes abject. His body becomes his poetic text disintegrating into nothingness. He tries to commit suicide in order to relapse to a pre-linguistic space where he achieves a union with the m/other. However, he fails to do so and returns to the symbolic by recalling a poetic line.


Naguib Mahfouz, The Beggar

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