Tawfiq al-Hakim on the wife on an artist

17 May

This is a short article from Tawfiq al-Hakim’s section about women in his collection of articles called ‘Under the Sun of Thought’. I thought it was apt to translate this now after reading ArabLit in translations article about the lack of translations of female writers. Al-Hakim never seems to acknowledge that women could creative or artistic in their own right. Though, this short article does seem almost too ridiculous to be entirely serious.


I can only hope that its tongue is deeply lodged in its cheek. Otherwise being Tawfiq al-Hakim’s wife would probably be one of the least appealing prospects around. Though since he is now dead, the work load is probably sufficiently reduced. It is likely articles like this that earned him the epithet “enemy of women”. According to Wikipedia he was a bachelor for “an unusually long time”.


Women and the Artist

The true artist is that amazing man who is married to “art”. So can a man like this also marry a “woman”? Opinions on this differ… My own personal opinion is that it is possible if the woman realises that her life with this man cannot be like any other life. Her life will not be valued by the kind of man who doesn’t even value his own life.


Yes… The wife of an artist must understand that her whole life must be devoted to her husband and that her mission in life is to provide her husband with a charmed and pleasant life so he can be creative.


The wife of an artist is the woman who cares for her husband and does not ask him to care for her. She sees to the complains of her husband but does not wait around for him to see to hers. She listens to his troubles and never tells him her troubles!… She is that creature who lives quietly, patiently, cheerfully beside the artists all their lives without feeling, for one moment, the burden of being beside him. He stands next to him always without him even perceiving that she is there. The wife who can live with an artist is, in short, a woman with a mission and with a strong belief… She earns, by her patience and self-sacrifice, the honour that history links her name to his. She is the kind of woman who keeps these words in her heart: “Whereas the artist likes for the sake of arts, she lives for the sake of the artist”…  




One Response to “Tawfiq al-Hakim on the wife on an artist”

  1. Shereen June 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    Hello there, I am doing a lot of work on T Al Hakim and I can tell you from my readings that he is misunderstood. Let me first thank you for taking the time to translate this short part in the article. It is true that most of his work have not been translated “properly” and thus, the meanings are muddled and he is misunderstood. There is a lot of underlying ideas and typical of the writer and (in my view) philosopher he is, a female partner in life is not as interesting to him as a book. When I read Al Hakim, I do not take his words to be that of a woman-hater, we should rise above these things and see the work in its totality and where it stands in the historical period and in terms of the personal events in the author’s life. I tell you, from evidence and research, he was sociable (regardless of his ivory tower reputations and love for solitude) and he was so much in love with his wife and family as anyone would be. It is the limited means of expressing himself that did not rescue his case. I suggest you see the totality of the work and other representations of women throughout his whole career as for instance in the character of “isis” or “prisca” in the People of the cave or even in the One Hundred and Nights tales, I am sure you will see some developments to the female- characters. Best of Luck

    S Shaw
    Blog: http://memoirsofanegyptianphilosopher.blogspot.co.uk/

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