The Suppressed Voice of the Marginalized Aristocracy in Serageldin’s the Cairo House: A New Historical Approach

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 6-1-2016


Contemporary new historical theory has obliterated the boundaries between history and fiction. History, a discourse constructed by “literary imagination” and “power relations,” is now seen as ideological and subjective, always open to multiple inquiries and re-interpretation by multiple voices including literary ones. The Cairo House by Samia Serageldin is just one voice that tells the history of the 1952 Revolution from a different perspective; the perspective of the aristocratic class that was done great injustice, especially after the nationalization of the Egyptian economy and the confiscation of their possessions. The novel helps ensure that a master narrative will no longer control our understanding of this era in our modern history. For example, the dark side of Nasser’s character appears in the young heroine’s nightmares. Like all children, she dreams of a bogeyman. “For Gigi,” however, “the bogeyman was real; he had a name and a face. The black-browed face was inescapable on a million posters throughout the country … The name was whispered: Nasser, El-Raiis; his thousand eyes and ears lurked behind every corner” (Serageldin, 58). This is how the aristocratic daughter views Nasser: a scary monster that has eyes everywhere, whether or not the reader agrees with the description. The novel, therefore, brings to the foreground the suppressed voice of the marginalized aristocratic class which was often misrepresented in history books and cultural artifacts alike.