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THE LEAP

By Naguib Mahfouz, date uncertain; 2001?

sketch of Naguib Mahfouz's dream of leaping off a winged horse's chariot to the top of the Great Pyramid.

I watched the cart carrying the enchantress of Crimson Lane coming, and drawing it was a winged stallion. I got in and sat at the rear. The steed responded by spreading its wings, and the cart began to fly until we were higher than the rooftops and minarets--and in seconds we arrived at the Great Pyramid's pinnacle. We started to pass over it, just an arm's height above it.

And then I rashly leapt down onto the pyramid's summit, my eyes never parting from the seductive girl as she soared upward and upward--and the nightfall descended, the darkness ever deepening, until she was fixed in the heavens as a luminous star.

EDITOR'S NOTES

ON THE DREAMER

Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988. In 1994, an Islamist stabbed him; during his convalescence, he was unable to write anything long. He published a series of ultrashort stories, called Ahlam Fatrat al-Naqaha, literally "Dreams of the Recovery Period," published in English as THE DREAMS in 2004, translated by Raymond Stock. It's a collection of 104 dream-stories, undated and untitled. Steeped in longing, eerie with dislocation, haunted by dead friends (Mahfouz was pushing 90 at the time) and authorities worthy of Kafka, his dreams are universal in feeling yet echo both his and Egypt's troubles. The style is elusive; I'm unsure if that's the writer or the translator.

I have excerpted three dreams to encourage you to read the other hundred. Mahfouz simply numbers them (this is dream 83); I've titled them here for convenience. The sketch is mine as well.

--Chris Wayan



LISTS AND LINKS: Another dreamer on a (comic, raunchy) flying cart ride with a very different lover and guide: Norasingh - flying dreams - winged horses - Islam - pyramids - animus and anima - abiku, the longing for the spirit world - death - Paradise - Egypt - two more dreams by Naguib Mahfouz: Clown and Rubbish

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