(also Taha Hussein). Born Nov. 14, 1889, in Kilu, near the city of Maghaghah, in Upper Egypt; died Oct. 28, 1973, in Cairo. Arab writer, literary scholar, and historian of Egypt. President of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo from 1965.
Blind since childhood, Taha Husayn attended the Muslim al-Azhar University and graduated from the University of Cairo, where he became a professor in 1919. In 1932 he joined the Wafd Party. Taha Husayn served as rector of the University of Alexandria from 1943 to 1946 and as Egypt’s minister of education from 1950 to 1952.
Taha Husayn was persecuted by reactionary circles for his monograph On Pre-Islamic Poetry (published 1926), which advocated a critical approach to all literary texts, even the Koran. The most interesting of his other works are Wednesday Discourses (vols. 1–3, 1925–53), two volumes of which deal with medieval Arabic literature and one volume with modern Arabic literature. Recent Arabic literature is the subject of a collection of essays, From Our Contemporary Literature (1958). Taha Husayn’s works of literary history deal primarily with the early history of Islam and include On the Margin of the Prophet’s Life (vols. 1–3, 1933—43).
Taha Husayn was a founder of critical realism in Arabic literature. His first major literary work, the autobiographical novella The Days (parts 1–2, 1929–39; part 3, 1972), has been translated into many languages (English translation, part 1, An Egyptian Childhood, and part 2, The Stream of Days). The collection of short stories Martyrs on the Earth (1948) cries out against oppression and calls for social justice for the people. Several of the writer’s works, however, are permeated with despondency and a lack of faith in social progress; an example is the collection of short stories Lost Love (1937–38).
Taha Husayn’s memoirs were published in 1967. He translated works by several writers of classical times and of the French Enlightenment. In recognition of his services to literature, Taha Husayn was awarded the State Prize of Egypt in 1959.
WORKSIn Russian translation:
Dni. [Introductory article and annotation by I. Iu. Krachkovskii.] Leningrad, 1934.
Dni, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1958.
“Hadidzha.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1958, no. 9.
Zov gorlitsy. [Foreword by V. Solov’ev.] Moscow, 1961.
REFERENCESKrachkovskii, I. Iu. Izbr. soch., Vol. 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Kotsarev, N. K. Pisateli Egipta: XX vek. Moscow, 1975. (Contains bibliography.)
Cachia, P. Taha Husayn: His place in the Egyptian Literary Renaissance. London, 1956.
Semah, D. Four Egyptian Literary Critics. Leiden, 1974. Pages 109–52.
Al-Hilal, 1966, no. 2. (Special number.)
Hamdi al Sakkut, and Jones Marsden. Taha Hussayn. Cairo, 1975.
O. B. FROLOVA