chapter  6
Tawfiq al-Hakim and the dark side of Egyptian secular-liberal nationalist discourse
Pages 31

Awdat al-Ruh (The Return of the Spirit) was published to rapturous acclaim in 1933. Without doubt much of this praise was due to its literary merit but the timing of its publication was nevertheless fortunate for the young al-Hakim. As Ali Jad has written, ‘the novel came out at a time of great disappointment and despair which followed the defeat and death of Saad Zaghlul and the loss of the Wafd of its right to govern’.1 Add to this the rather more important factors which had contributed to the gradual loss of enthusiasm for the political settlement of the previous decade (after all, Zaghlul had been dead for almost 6 years), namely the installation and consolidation of the brutally authoritarian and unconstitutional regime led by Ismail Sidqi; the lack of stable democratic government due to the constant fractiousness between the respective political parties (such that a new term in the political lexicon – hizbiyya (‘partyism’) – became widely disseminated);2

and the effects of a world economic recession upon an Egypt ill-equipped to cope with it, and one begins to envisage how Awdat al-Ruh, with its positive and optimistic affirmation of the revolution of 1919, might have appealed to a political and intellectual class in need of revivification.