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Return of the Spirit [a novel]

Tawfiq al-Hakim, newly translated and with an introduction by William Maynard Hutchins
Return of the Spirit [a novel]
ISBN: 978-1-58826-841-9
ISBN: 978-1-58826-817-4
2012/295 pages/LC: 2012014721
"My direct mentor was El-Hakim. Return of the Spirit, I believe, marked the true birth of the Arab novel."—Naguib Mahfouz, Al-Ahram

"Return of the Spirit represents a giant step forward in the writing of the Arabic novel….  [It] is characterized by al-Hakim's intelligence and urbanity of spirit, as well as the ability to see and create comic situtations in which humour is often combined with pathos."—M. M. Badawi, A Short History of Modern Arabic Literature

"This is a novel about Egypt par excellence: here we find Egypt not only in the … daily life … of Muhsin and his uncles and aunt … but also in the crowded street, coffee houses, tramcars and trains, in wedding parties and classrooms, at demonstrations and in prison."—Ali B. Jad, Form and Technique in the Egyptian Novel: 1912–1971


Both revolution and romance are at the heart of Return of the Spirit, first published in Arabic in 1933.

The story of a patriotic young Egyptian and his extended family, ending with events surrounding the 1919 revolution—for al-Hakim, a literal awakening of the Egyptian spirit—Return of the Spirit with its strong expression of nationalist solidarity has particular resonance now. Admiration for the novel by the military entrepreneurs who replaced Egypt's monarchy in 1952 temporarily dampened enthusiasm for it; but the 2011 Tahrir revolution has made it seem once again as fresh as today's news.

This new edition of Return of the Spirit includes William Maynard Hutchins's new introduction, along with his revised translation of the novel.


Tawfiq al-Hakim (1898–1987) is considered one of the most significant figures in twentieth-century Arabic literature, and Return of the Spirit one of Egypt’s most important novels. Al-Hakim is also known as the founder of modern Egyptian drama. William Maynard Hutchins is renowned for his translations of Tawfiq al-Hakim’s work, as well as of Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy and the novels of Fadhil al-Azzawi, Ibrahim al-Koni, Hassan Nasr, and others. He is also author of Tawfiq al-Hakim: A Reader's Guide. He is professor of Islamic and religious studies at Appalachian State University.

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