The Mysteries of Cairo

  • Samah Selim
Part of the Literatures and Cultures of the Islamic World book series (LCIW)


This chapter focuses on Niqula Rizqalla’s 1908–9 adaptation, The Lovely Beggar Girl, against the background of the nineteenth century’s wildly popular “mysteries” or “urban gothic” genre (mystères). The first part of the chapter delves into the bibliographic mystery posed by Rizqalla’s unattributed adaptation and then goes on to work out a genealogy of the genre as itself a history of circulating adaptations. Selim offers the outlines of a semiotics of adaptation that permits a reading of Rizqalla’s text as a sly critique of both imperialism and the liberal nahdawi social and economic theories that it engenders and shows how adaptation enables this critique through the transparency of the “foreign” fiction.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samah Selim
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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