Naguib Mahfouz, who died last week at 94, transcended the status of celebrated writer and became Egypt's spiritual father. The characters from his books were the vocabulary of everyday life. It is common to hear an Egyptian woman, quarrelling with her husband, shout in his face, "You think you're Si Sayed?"?a reference to the tyrannical husband in Mahfouz's landmark Cairo Trilogy. He laid the foundations of the modern Arab novel and proved that a great artist?he received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988?must also be a great human being. Thousands of Cairo's inhabitants saw Mahfouz during his long daily wanderings...

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