Louis Awadh (1915-1990)

Dr. Louis Awadh is a prominent scholar, intellectual and literary critic. His far-reaching influence as a literary critic and dedicated scholar extended to the entire canvas of Egyptian and Arab cultural, literary and artistic scenes.
He was a genuine and exemplary intellectual who combined a firm belief in the freedom of man and the spirit of civilization and culture. He was deeply involved in the concerns of his own time, untiringly advocating new values, always associating education to the liberation of the intellect from the domination of superstitions and of man from oppression. His career was a series of literary debates, which always attracted lengthy literary controversies throughout his lifetime.
His writings were highly controversial and oftentimes going to extremes exceeding, in some cases red tape. During his career, he raised many controversial issues. For example, he advocated, during the forties the writing of poetry in colloquial Arabic and the discarding of traditional poetic rhythm.
During the fifties, he called for the principle of "literature for life". In association with his generation of critics and poets, such as Salah Abdel Sabour, he successfully established the "legitimacy of modern poetry".
Dr. Awadh was influenced by such interactive cultural elements that combined to give him a revolutionary inclination, manifesting itself into a constant pursuit of everything new and dissatisfaction with traditional and prevailing intellectual, cultural and creative values.
He had a firm belief in the "Unity of Culture in the World". According to him, it is easy to acquire a vocation, but it is difficult to adopt literature as a profession.
He also believed that practical criticism is the real criticism, thus making literary criticism available and integrating the cultural climate into the set-up of the community. Dr. Awadh was highly concerned with meticulous linguistic structure of his literary works. He was strictly committed to expressing himself in genuine classical Arabic in his own highly structured, elaborate style, although once he was an advocate of writing in colloquial. In all his writings, he was interested in issues related to ordinary people's life. His life span of 75 years was continuous series of independent intellectual work.
Dr. Louis Awadh was born in an Upper Egyptian village in Al Minya Governorate on January 5, 1915, to a middle class family.
He spent the first five years of his life in Sudan, where his father was employed. He was greatly influenced by his father, when a child, he started to use his father's large library, which mostly contained English books, dealing with Western thought in general.
When his family moved back to the city of Al Minya, he joined "Les Freres" School, then the primary school, where he completed his primary education in 1926.
In 1931, he completed his secondary education. In 1937, he was graduated and started his initial steps in the press. He contributed several articles on literary criticism in newspapers like Kawkab Al Sharq, Al Jihad, Al Wadi among others. He also co- edited Al Nahdha Al Fekria Magazine.
Dr. Awadh obtained his Ph.D at Cambridge University, England. When he was appointed lecturer at the Cairo University, Faculty of Arts, English Department, he was posed not merely as a university professor, but actually as an intellectual of a calibre, that is usually common during periods of transition where barriers between pure knowledge and real life virtually vanish.
His extremely liberal views caused many troubles to him; in 1954 he was discharged from the university and was imprisoned during the fifties on account of his political views. His political debates were more famous than his literary involvement. One of his most famous literary debates was that where he challenged the great Arabic linguist Mohmoud Shaker who could defeat Awadh, giving him a hard lesson on how to deal with literary text. The defeat was so severe that Awadh resigned his post as cultural advisor to Al Ahram Daily.
The resignation was, however rejceted by the then Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram: Mohammad Hasanien Haikal.
Dr. Louis Awadh made wide contributions in all aspects of litertary life. As a scholar, he was equally well-versed in both Arabic and Western literatures, with a deep insight into the relationship between the East and the West. He enriched the Arabic library with 50 books. Dr. Awadh will always be remembered as an untiring fighter intellectual and a source of construtive controversies.
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