National Allegory and the Parallax View in Tawfīq al-Ḥakīm’s Maṣīr Ṣurṣār

Portals: A Journal in Comparative Literature, vol. 10, 2013. (see full article at

“Come along – wake up! It’s time for work.” Echoing the ethos of the Nasserist regime (1952-1970), the King Cockroach’s imperative opens Maṣīr Ṣurṣār by rallying us to emerge from our slumber to “work,” to engage as laborers in Egypt’s production-based materialist economy well underway by the play’s publication in 1966. The play undoubtedly operates as a national allegory, wherein the smaller private narrative of the work represents the larger national story. But what happens to this relationship between private and national when a work consists of two entirely separate narratives as does Maṣīr Ṣurṣār? Read more at