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

Roberta Tanzi, Raffaella La Scaleia


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.


Arabian mythology; Literary rewriting; Theatre of Ideas

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