Traditional Egyptian folktales have a flavour and vivacity that until now has proved impossible to render in translation. Here, Elizabeth Wickett presents a translation into English of five rich and vivid tales from Upper Egypt that accurately captures the drama, wit and vitality of Egyptian oral narrative in performance. The stories include the tale of Maimuna, the slave girl of Mecca, crucified for her beliefs, and the erotic tale of Aziza, the flamboyant daughter of the Sultan of Tunis, who attempts to seduce and capture the handsome and innocent Yunis. The author explores the broader literary and social significance of each tale, as well as the aesthetics of performance, gender issues, and parallels with other Egyptian and Near Eastern tales. It is a unique record of a disappearing and little known tradition.
Elizabeth Wickett has worked in the Middle East and North Africa for more than twenty-five years, in academic research, anthropological film and development. She studied with Dell Hymes at the University of Pennsylvania and has lectured widely on Upper Egyptian folk genres and performance. She produced the successful documentary For Those Who Sail to Heaven, highlighting the legacy of ancient festival tradition in Luxor, and is the author of For the Living and the Dead: the Funerary Laments of Upper Egypt, Ancient and Modern (I.B.Tauris, 2010).