I have never heard of her, let alone have I read any of her books.
fact, I am ashamed that I have never heard of her – being a graduate of English Literature who spent most of her studies confined, where possible, to feminism and womens writing.
In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure how popular Nawal-El-Saadaw is – and perhaps some of you share my ignorance. I only discovered her in a Guardian online article written by Homa Khaleeli where I am introduced to her with the following lines:
Writer Nawal El Saadawi has braved prison, exile and death threats in her fight against female oppression. And she isn’t about to give up now.
While reading, I am inspired.
On finishing, I feel dissapointed and let down. I realise that the opinions and knowledge that I hold on womens writing, are narrow and blind-sighted. A university education in literature only introduces you to so much.
Namely – the classics.
I studied the greats – and not just the English greats. Christina Rossetti, Virginia Woolf, the Brontes, Doris Lessing, Helen Cixous, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Buut I feel like I’ve been stitched up. Well read? I only know the cliches. I’ve read The Second Sex.
Has university education become so mainstream and invested in the ‘respected’ canon that we miss inspiring gems like Nawal-El-Saadaw?
Since graduating I have been introduced to a world of literature that is entirely un-restricted. And so perhaps that’s the whole idea.
If you think Woolf and co. were devoted to their art and cause. Read this and think again