By Nawal El Saadawi
This is the 1st quantity of the autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, giving an emotionally shattering, yet splendidly lyrical, portrait of her early life in a distant Egyptian village -- the formative years that produced the liberty fighter. She describes vividly the tradition of where and time into which she was once born and in addition her intuitive -- and encouraging -- wish to go beyond the limitations pressured upon her as a result of her gender. From the very begin, escaping the snatch of attainable marriage on the age of ten, we see how she moulded her personal artistic energy right into a weapon and the way using phrases turned an act of uprising opposed to injustice, major first to her occupation as a doctor and finally to her iconic prestige as a novelist and political activist.
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Extra resources for A Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, 2nd ed.
The word Duke echoes strangely in my ears, but even stranger is the echo of the name El Saadawi. ’ She said he was a man of unknown origin. He had been carried down from Abyssinia by the waters of the Nile, in a canoe made of straw or bulrushes, like our prophet Moses, abandoned as a child by his mother, to be carried away to an unknown fate by the waters of the Nile. I was six years old when I used to sit next to Sittil Hajja on the threshhold of our home in Kafr Tahla. In front of her she would have laid out the straw mat on which she spread the grains of wheat and rice, as I watched her picking out the tiny stones, and bits of chaff with her strong rough fingers.
Stood up suddenly as though stung by a scorpion, and muttered, ‘I beg of Thee Almighty God to forgive me for all Almighty sins’, then walked away, her iron heels striking heavily on the floor, as though she wanted them to go through it. ’ She never stopped giving orders to the servants, her voice echoing throughout the house. She imitated her father, Shoukry Bey, but as soon as he appeared at the outer door her voice dropped to a whisper, and her body quickly shrank into her room disappearing behind the closed door.
I used to hold them back. I was afraid that my mother, or my father, or someone else, would see me crying. I move the pen in my fingers over the sheet of paper. The veins in my hand are swollen, like they were in my grandmother’s hand. Sixty-two years of my life have passed without my knowing. Parts of my life have fallen into oblivion. I try to bring them back, to haul them out of the clutches of the past. Those moments that try to escape, to disappear from my memory, or to hide from people’s eyes, moments of pain and despair, of weakness and decay, when I forgot the day, and the hour and the place where I would be, when I forgot my name and the names of my mother and father, and the village where I was born, moments of anger that took hold of me, so that I wanted to kill, moments when I would walk the streets not knowing where I was going, glimpse my face in the mirror, or the glass window of a shop, as I came to a sudden stop, struck with bewilderment at what seemed another woman’s face, dark, and pallid, and sad, The Cry in the Night 27 looking out into the world from brooding eyes, as black and as dark as the night.