In his article "Mahfouz between Lukácsian and Brechtian Approaches to Realism" David F. DiMeo compares the interpretations of realism by the leading Arabic author of socially committed fiction to the theories of Bertolt Brecht and György Lukács. The early works of novelist Najib Mahfouz feature a Lukácsian approach, embracing critical realism to present a totalizing view of the social system, as experienced by credible, sympathetic characters. By the 1960s, disillusioned with this method, Mahfouz turned to a more Brechtian approach, seeking to highlight social injustices by alienating the audience from identification with the characters or particular situations through ambiguous narratives and unsympathetic characters. While Mahfouz did not overtly claim allegiance to these European Marxist theorists, the similarity in his experiments with realism stems from two possible, but opposing interpretations of realism, the same interpretations which had divided Lukács and Brecht.

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