The Mummy Awakens by Naguib Mahfouz
Table of Contents
The Mummy Awakens Introduction
“The Mummy Awakens” is the story of Mahmud Pasha. He is Turk in origin, French in taste and Egyptian by nationality. He has a great collection of art, paintings and statues. He loves the people of French origin. He does not believe Egyptians as cultured beings rather he expresses his hatred towards them. He has extraordinary love for French politics and culture. There we should not miss the point that once Turks used to rule over Egypt and this was replaced by France. The writer has grudge against both the nationalities Thus having a Franco-Turkish character in his story he speaks high of Egyptian cultural traditions and very low of Turkish and French.
Naguib Mahfouz in his fantasy speaks of Egyptian nationalism. He believes Egyptian culture to be supreme and speaks of his hatred against the imperialistic policies of various nations. He dislikes Pasha for his Turkish origin and for his French tastes. He champions the poor Egyptians who have been reduced t poverty. The story, The Mummy Awakens is a story about injustice and plunder in countries like Egypt. Its basic theme is the shift of power from the true owners to unworthy persons by total unfair means.
The story brings before us the poor condition of the poor Egyptians. The Mummy comes alive and kills all the rich and demolishes their buildings for not giving their due right to the poor Egyptians. The story has true to life characters and story line. “The Mummy Awakens” has all the trappings of a mummy story, complete with the obligatory disclaimer that prefaces many tales of the supernatural:
“I am deeply embarrassed to tell this tale–for some of its events violate the laws of reason and of nature altogether. If this were merely fiction, then it would not cause me to feel such embarrassment. Yet it happened in the realm of reality….”
It isn’t just any mummy who wakes, it is General Hur, likely based on the last 18th Dynasty ruler Horemheb, as Stock notes. Other pharaohs have been brought to life in fiction, but Hur isn’t like the lumbering, enigmatic but ultimately benevolent Khufu in Jane Loudon’s The Mummy, or the urbane revivified royalty hobnobbing late one night in the Cairo Museum in H. Rider Haggard’s “Smith and the Pharaohs. General Hur is not a happy camper.
There is only one important character; Pahsa around whom the whole story revolves the theme of the story is generated from. Mahmud Pasha lived in a huge country mansion in the upper Egypt. He was one of the richest men in Egypt and was highly cultured and conscientious as well. He was being three persons rolled into one; a Turk by origin, Egypt by nationality and Frenchman by tastes and avocations.
He was also a poet and composed romantic poetry in French language. The narrator calls him a fervent admirer of culture and staunch advocate of politics. Pasha’s friends are astonished at his collection of arts as well as the treatment that the delivers to the servant only for stealing of a meat dog. He called Egyptians animals; rather docile animals whom he tames as he wills.
His friends have the opinion that he should respect them; but he is stubborn by nature and runs his own rod among people. Pasha is the class discriminator as he draws a light between the rich and the poor, between the ruler and the ruled. He is justly treated by the Mummy that awakes. He has to be answerable to the dictates of the mummy which he hardly bears and dies on the sport at the terror of the Mummy’s interrogation.
The Mummy Awakens Summary
The narrator starts the story with an air of uncertainty. In order to give certainty to his story, he shifts its narration to professor Daryen who is a true witness to the event of Mummy being awakened. They decide to visit the mansion of Mahmud Pasha who is an elite and a very famous personality. When they were in, they were struck by the beauty of art in Pasha’s house. He was multi-dimensional personality. He was a Turk in origin, Egyptian by nationality and a Frenchman by tastes who didn’t have a good opinion of the Egyptians. The late Pasha was one of the richest men in Egypt, and was highly cultured and conscientious as well. As far as he was concerned, the time he spent beneath a French sky was the happiest in his life. Most cultured French people knew him only as an amateur enthusiast for the fine arts or else as a poet who composed beautiful romantic poetry in French. On that particular day I took my place beside the Pasha. “Your Excellency”, he said to the Pasha, “this mansion of yours would need a little modification to become a museum in its own right.” “I owe it all to my eclectic taste,” the Pasha commented.
Meanwhile a person was beaten by his servant and Pasha also ordered that the person should be arrested by the police. He then took professor Daryen into his garden where diggings were taking place. Daryen was also interested in archeological expeditions. They visited things around and a huge stone was removed. After the stone was removed, there was a vast space which led to a direction. It led to the tomb of the Egyptian king; Hur who was lying in the tomb as a mummy. They saw that the mummy of Hur began to move. They were greatly terrified because there was a mummy and a complete darkness. The mummy even began to talk as Daryen felt him behave like that. The mummy called Pasha his slave. His face resembled the person whom Pasha had beaten and asked to be arrested by the police. He asked Pasha why he was cruelly treating his decadents because the person whom Pasha had belonged to Hur’s decadence.
The mummy began to roar in terror. Pasha couldn’t bear that roaring accent of Mummy and died of terror. The two servants there got mad but Daryen got saved for some miracle. What was the poor man supposed to say? Life had been restored to the mummy, but it seemed to have abandoned the Pasha even though he was still alive. Hur got the impression that the Pasha was not prepared to say anything. “What’s the matter with you?” Have slaves become masters and masters slaves? How is it, slave, that you can own such a large mansion, while my own descendants work in it as your servants? A curse upon you, slave!” Hur’s threats had spread a new sense of terror into the room which finally put an end to whatever self-control people had left. Shaykh Jadallah soon fell to his face on the floor, and the lamp fell with him. As my own good fortune would have it, I lost consciousness at this point and I was no longer aware of either world. What about Hur’s tomb and the now deserted mansion?
The Mummy Awakens Analysis
Mummy is a tribute to the poverty-stricken people of Egypt. The central theme of the story is injustice done to the poor. The story focuses on the shift of power from the owners to unworthy persons by total unfair means. Pasha, the central character hates the Egyptians due to unknown reasons. He beats his servant merely for the dog meat and calls the police to arrest him. Pasha is after a handsome treasure but when land is dug up, three mummies come up. Then a bird is seen there which is the soul of Hur. The mummy of Hur is awakened and he talks to Pasha about the injustice done to the servant. The interrogation by the mummy so horrifyingly overcomes him that Pasha dies there.
“The Mummy Awakens” is Mahfouz’s retelling of a 12th Dynasty story in which Sinuhe, campaigning with the army west of the Delta hears of the pharaoh’s death and flees to Syria. He prospers there, raising a family, but ultimately wishes to return to Egypt. This story has been translated several times, by the great turn-of-the-century Egyptologist W.M. Flinders Petrie among others. We do not have the complete ancient text, and there are important gaps in the story, as Petrie says: “But the great difficulty in the account has been the sudden panic of
Sanehat on hearing of the death of Amenemhat, and no explanation of this has yet been brought forward. It seems not unlikely that he was a son of Amenemhat by some concubine. This would at once account for his high titles–for his belonging to the royal household–for his fear of his elder brother Usertesen, who might see in him a rival, and try to slay him after his father’s death….” Mahfouz suggests another reason.. love. “A Voice from the Other World” (1945) flips the usual story of a mummy coming to life–like Count Allamistakeo in Edgar Allan Poe’s burlesque “Some Words with a Mummy”–and gives a first-person account of becoming a mummy and transitioning from this world to the next. As noted by Stock, Mahfouz bases his character, Taw-ty, on Pentaweret, who was once thought to have composed the account of Ramesses II’s victory over the Hittites at Kadesh at the temple of Luxor. The mummification process is described in detail by Taw-ty as he looks on. Stock points out in his introduction that Mahfouz’s employment of this “out-of-body” perspective is decades earlier than its common use in the 1970s and 1980s. A few aspects of the mummification process are better understood today than when Mahfouz wrote this piece, so Taw-ty’s body is pickled in a solution rather than being stuffed with natron to dry it out, but this in no way effects the story. The pharaonic setting of these tales is enhanced by Mahfouz’s straightforward writing and the viewpoint of his protagonists, which sometimes borders on naïve or wondering. “Pharaoh Userkaf was among the most magnificent monarchs of the Fifth Dynasty, who ruled Egypt by blending justice with mercy, firmness with sagacity, and force with affection.”. “My soul was eager to go out into the world, and so I did,” recalls the deceased Taw-ty. Most of these enjoyable tales are both stories and explorations of human nature. The one exception is “The Mummy Awakens” with an overt political message set in a satire on the mummy genre.
The Mummy Awakens Theme
Central theme of the story is injustice and plunder in countries like Egypt. The story focuses on the shift of power from the owners to unworthy persons by total unfair means. Pasha, the central character of the story hates Egyptians due to unknown reasons. He beats his servant severely because he has stolen piece of dog’s meat. Pasha calls for the Police and makes him arrest.
Pasha permits to dig Quama’s tomb. During the digging process, three mummies are found instead of a treasure. Pasha is horrified at the scene and says that he would inform the Government about the story. Then a bird is seen there. Actually this bird is the soul of “Hur” who is lying in the form of a mummy. Then mummy talks in an authoritative tone calling Pasha, his slave. The mummy says to Pasha that he treats his descendants cruelly and now he has plundered his tomb. He says that the servants have replaced the masters and begun to crush them. So, the thesis of the story is that the wealth of the country does not belong to aristocratic class only. It should also be shared with the needy and poor and class discrimination should be removed for establishing a society on equal footing and equality.