By Nawal El Saadawi

This is the 1st quantity of the autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, giving an emotionally shattering, yet splendidly lyrical, portrait of her adolescence in a distant Egyptian village -- the adolescence that produced the liberty fighter. She describes vividly the tradition of where and time into which she was once born and likewise her intuitive -- and encouraging -- wish to go beyond the constraints compelled upon her due to her gender. From the very commence, escaping the snatch of attainable marriage on the age of ten, we see how she moulded her personal inventive energy right into a weapon and the way using phrases grew to become an act of uprising opposed to injustice, best first to her occupation as a doctor and finally to her iconic prestige as a novelist and political activist.

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Additional info for A Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, 2nd ed.

Example text

I still feel the spoon in my hand, the touch of her head is still on my chest as I feed her, and the smell of her milk as she suckles me from her breasts is still in my nose, like the smell of my own body. My face has grown longer, my complexion darker and more sallow, the shine in my black eyes is no longer the same. Deep inside me lie moments born of nothing. I brush away the phantom of death with a movement of my hand, as though brushing a fly away from my desk, and glimpse a white envelope with my name on it, Doctor El Saadawi, Visiting Professor at Duke University.

She never stopped giving orders to the servants, her voice echoing throughout the house. She imitated her father, Shoukry Bey, but as soon as he appeared at the outer door her voice dropped to a whisper, and her body quickly shrank into her room disappearing behind the closed door. The house of my maternal grandfather, Shoukry Bey, was a villa composed of two floors in the Cairo suburb of Al‑Zeitoun. It was surrounded by a big garden with a high fence. The lower half of the fence was made of stone and the upper half of iron railings, their ends rising like sharp, pointed knives.

A bride should not scream or else she would be stung by a cane, or by the neighbour’s tongues, and neither she nor her father would be able to face the village. After several years, three or four, according to Sittil Hajja, her belly rose up in a first pregnancy and my father was born. She took care to make sure that the male organ was there between his thighs before letting out a resounding ‘yoo-yoo’. She fought against the fever that seized hold of her and overcame it, thanks to her great joy at having given birth to a male child.

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