Shukry Mohammed Ayyad


Born in 1921 in
Egypt in the Nile Delta village of Kafr Shanwan in Menoufiya, Shukri Mohamed Ayyad studied Arabic literature at Fouad Al-Awal (now Cairo) University, earning his Masters degree in 1948, and completing his doctorate in 1953, in which he studied of the earliest Arabic translation of Aristotle"s Poetics and investigated its influence on Arabic literature.

He has been schoolmaster, journalist, and diplomat, has worked in the secretariat of the Arab Language Academy, and has studied in the United States.

In Egypt he studied under two of the period"s most eminent men of letters, Taha Hussein and Sheikh Amin El-Khouli, and in the mid-1940s started publishing articles and stories in the daily Al-Masri, earning, along with first-generation short-story writers like Saad Mikawi, Abdel Rahman el Sharkawi and Fathi Ghanim, the acknowledgement of well-established literary critics of the period. Ayyad eschewed the limelight, withdrawing from the public arena, and devoted himself at the time to studying Ancient Greek in order to complete his Ph.D.

From the early 1950s to the late 1970s, Ayyad worked successfully as a lecturer, researcher and critic. He occupied a number of high-ranking cultural and literary positions. He was dean of the Theatre Institute, head of the Arabic Literature Department and vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University, and cultural attaché at the Egyptian Embassy in Brazil, all of which he treated with a degree of circumspection, consistently avoiding the intrigues of power and shunning all forms of self-advertisement. In his own phrase -- also the title of his autobiography -- he preferred Al-Aish ala Al-Hafa (Living on the Edge).

His publications include an edition of the mediaeval Arabic translation of Aristotle"s poetics (1967), a collection of essays on modern Arabic literature (Tajiirub fil-adabi wan-naqd - Experiments in Literature and Criticism, 1967), and a study of the indebtedness of the Arabic short story to the indigenous tradition (Al- qissatul qasira fi Misr - The short story in Egypt, 1968). He was an assistant¬ editor of Al Magalla, the leading cultural magazine of Cairo. He translated Russian fiction into Arabic.

Read Arabic Short Stories.

References: Arabic Short Stories, 1945-1965. Edited by Mahmoud Manzalaoui. The American University in Cairo Press, 1985.
Ahram Weekly,