Mahmoud Taymour


Mahmoud Taymour was a pioneer of the modern Egyptian novel and short story. He was born on June 6, 1894 at Darb Saada in an old district in Cairo, to a well-off family of Turkish origin, interested in literature and arts. His grandfather, Ismail Pasha Taymour, was a man of letters and an enthusiastic collector of books. His aunt Aysha Taymour was a distinguished poet. His father Ahmed Pasha Taymour (1871-1930), was a great scholar, well-versed in literature, linguistics and Arabic history. His library, which he bequeathed for public use to Egyptian National Library, contained a collection of rare Arabic masterpieces

Mahmoud Taymour began his studies at an agriculture school but could not complete them due to ill health. He first worked in the Egyptian foreign ministry after which he dedicated his time to lecturing and writing. He was a member of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo, and a member of the Higher Council for Arts, Literature and Social Sciences.

As a young man he traveled to Europe and lived two years in Switzerland. There he was introduced to European modern literature and particularly the modern novel, and his future work was influenced by European literature and by his first hand knowledge of European life and thought. His favorite writers were Maupassant and Chekhov. His first collection of short stories was published in 1925.

He was editor of al Qissa, a monthly magazine which published short stories. A collection of his stories, Tales from Egyptian Life, was translated into English by Denys Johnson-Davies and published in 1946.

Taymour wrote some 15 volumes of short stories, seven novels, and a number of plays, travel literature, essays and literary criticism. Several plays were adapted for the Egyptian stage and some were made into feature films during the golden age of Egyptian cinema.

Many of his writings were translated into several European languages including French, Italian, and German.

Read Arabic Short Stories.

References: al-hakawatiمحمود-تيمور

The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction, ed. Denys Johnson-Davies, 2006, American University of Cairo Press, p440.

Arabic Short Stories, ed. Mahmoud Manzalaou, 1985, American University of Cairo Press, p47.
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