At the center of Khufu’s Wisdom, Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s majestic first novel, is the legendary Fourth Dynasty monarch Khufu (Cheops), for whom the Great Pyramid of Giza was built.
When a seer prophesies the end of Khufu’s dynasty and the ascension to the throne of Djedefra, son of the High Priest of Ra, the pharaoh must battle to preserve his legacy against the will of the Fates. But in the face of the inexorable attraction between Djedefra and Princess Meresankh, Khufu’s beautiful daughter, Khufu must consider not only his personal ambition and the opposing decree of the heavens, but also how the wisdom he prides himself on as a ruler will guide him in determining the fate of his daughter’s heart.
Translated by Raymond Stock
About the Author
NAGUIB MAHFOUZ was born in 1911 in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He studied philosophy at Cairo University, then worked in various government ministries until his retirement in 1971. His first three published novels were Khufu's Wisdom (1939), Rhadopis of Nubia (1943), and Thebes at War (1944), all of which are set in ancient Egypt. These political and philosophical critiques disguised as historical romances show the unmistakable signs of a burgeoning literary genius. He went on to write more than 35 other novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous cinema plots and scenarios, many of which have been made into successful films. Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. In 2006, he died at the age of 95.
RAYMOND STOCK, with a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania, is writing a biography of Naguib Mahfouz. He is the translator of numerous works by Mahfouz, most recently Dreams of Departure (AUC Press, 2007).
“Mahfouz’s novels provide a voice for his culture.” –The Denver Post
“Mahfouz’s work is freshly nuanced and hauntingly lyrical.” –Los Angeles Times
“What is fascinating about this refreshingly gifted writer is that his fiction is at once simple and subtle, serious and ironic, realistic and symbolic, local and universal. Naguib Mahfouz is a writer to read and admire.” –The Globe and Mail
“His towering strength as a writer is his luminous specificity.” –The New York Times Book Review