Allegory of the East: The pact with the Devil in Tawfiq al-Hakim

  • Roberta Tanzi CNRS of Paris
  • Raffaella La Scaleia University of Napoli “L’Orientale”
Keywords: Arabian mythology, Literary rewriting, Theatre of Ideas


This paper aims to investigate the use and phenomenology of a Western myth – such as that of Faust – in the works of Tawfiq al-Hakim, considered to be one of the most famous and important Arab writers and dramatists, making particular reference to his tale, Ahd al-Shaytān (1938). This tale is analyzed starting from the legend of Faust and through its legacy within the thematic and iconographic world. Ahd al-Shaytān is a representative exemplum of the author’s literary idiosyncrasy given that in his works Tawfiq al-Hakim often recurs to a number of mythological themes and characters. His experience enables the exploration of this modern Western myth through the Arab tradition. At stake are the effects of an interaction between traditional and local elements and the full process of assimilation of this legacy. Tawfiq al-Hakim’s work offers an invaluable opportunity to investigate this interesting juxtaposition of Western myths and the author’s views on them. His familiarity with Western themes and patterns allows a reconsideration of Faust together with a new perspective on it.


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Author Biographies

Roberta Tanzi, CNRS of Paris


In June 2009, Roberta Tanzi achieved her PhD degree in comparative literature and linguistics at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (SUM), Scuola Europea di Studi Avanzati (SESA) and at the Université de la Sorbonne, with her thesis L’Europa di Faust. Mitografie della crisi in Mon Faust di Paul Valéry, to be published by Aracne. She translates into Italian from French and is a member of CNRS’s “équipe Paul Valéry”. Since 2009, she has been working for Edizioni Erickson.

Raffaella La Scaleia, University of Napoli “L’Orientale”

Raffaella La Scaleia gained a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. She has translated several poems from Arabic classical and modern literature into Italian and has published an essay entitled Il mito di Orfeo ed Euridice nella rivista Abūllū (Apollo) in M.T. Giaveri, L. Marfé, V. Salerno (eds. by) Classico/Moderno. Percorsi di creazione e formazione, Mesogea, Messina 2011. She is currently working on Arabic and French literature, with a critical study  on the Arabic  translation of “Le cimitière marin”. 


Al-Hakim, Tawfiq, Taht shams al-fikr, Beirut, Dar al-Kitab Al-Lūb nani, 1938.

Al-Hakim, Tawfiq, Fan al-Adab, Il Cairo, Dar al-Kitab al-Lūbnani, 1980.

Wannus, Saādallah, Bayanat li masrah arabi jadid, Beirut, Dar al- Fikr al jadid, 1988.

Nuh, Mūhamad Mhanna, Majallat al-fūnūn, Koweit, 2006.

N. Nagib, Tawfiq Al-Hakim, wa Usturat al-hadarah, Il Cairo, Dar Al-Hilal, 1987.

How to Cite
Tanzi, R., & La Scaleia, R. (2011). Allegory of the East: <i>The pact with the Devil</i&gt; in Tawfiq al-Hakim. Between, 1(2).