Youssef Idrees

With a unique style, a distinct way of presenting ideas and commitment to the cause, aspirations and concerns of his country, Dr Youssef Idrees is a glittering star in the realm of contemporary Arabic literature, both as a short story and novel writer, and playwright. He has left a rich legacy of writings, including novels, short stories, plays and essays. Idrees is considered a turning point in the history of Arabic short story and novel. Thanks to his contributions, the Arabic novel evolved from "pathetic" romanticism to realism. He was born on May 19, 1927. Throughout his school years, he was an intelligent, talented and distinguished student. He used to read stories, scientific and literary books where he got acquainted with major contemporary Arabic writers. He also read translations of foreign literature.
During his study at the Faculty of Medicine, he became more interested in literature, psychology, poetry and other arts such as music and painting. There, he started to write short stories. In his last year at the faculty, he participated in the students' demonstrations against British colonisation; he became the executive secretary of the committee defending students. He was engaged in clashes with the British soldiers.
While he practised medicine during the period from 1951 1960, he remained committed to the patriotic cause of his country and took part in the secret meetings of the liberation movement until the July, 1952 Revolution took place. He took part in editing "Al Tahrir", the first magazine published by the Army in September, 1952.
Idrees's early short stories drew the attention of critics, many of whom foretold he would reach outstanding status especially after he wrote "The Strangers' Song" published in "Al Qissa" magazine in 1950.
Idrees' stories were published in "Rose Al-Yousef" magazine , then Abdel Rahman Al Khamisi introduced him to "Al Masri" newspaper.
His first collection "Cheapest Nights" was published in 1954, which contained short stories previously published in "Al Qissa" and "Rose Al-Yousef" magazines, and "Al Masri" newspaper. Then his writings began to be published in "Sabahel-Kheir" magazine . He was appointed as Editor in "Al Gomhouria" newspaper where he started his career as a journalist and a writer.
He was entrusted to write a book on the Suez War, to be translated into English, and another book on the National Union. He made a successful debut in the theatre when he wrote his one-act play entitled "Farahat's Republic".
In 1973, he was appointed as writer in Al-Ahram newspaper. In his late years, he had a special interest in writing articles as he used to write weekly articles which were published in Al-Ahram every Monday. These essays, published under the heading "From My Diary", with their rich and daring subjects and elaborate style, constituted another form of Idrees' writings.
Idrees's literary works were the subject of about 95 Ph.D. theses in and outside Egypt. In foreign universities, these works were subject to more than 22 studies. For example, the Spanish researcher Pilar Liro El Elegado made her Ph.D. on "The Dramatic World of Youssef Idrees". Owing to the significance of this Ph.D., it was printed and published in a book by the Egyptian Institute for Islamic Studies. It was discussed in a seminar in Taha Hussein's Hall at the Institute, attended by some of the Egyptian and Spanish university professors and orientalists.
- Order of Algerian Militants in 1961, in recognition of his contribution to the independence of Algeria. - Order of the Republic in 1963. - The annual prize in 1965 from "Hewar", a Lebanese magazine, which is dedicated every year to eminent writers in the Arab world. Yet, he declined to take the prize.
In 1970, he was unanimously elected a Director-General of the Society of Drama writers.
Works of Youssef Idrees
Idrees wrote 12 collections of short stories, eight plays, six novels, 11 books containing his essays. Besides, he wrote on childhood, its innocent world and awareness of the surrounding reality. He took part in most of political, literary and intellectual seminars organised at his time. He also co-authored some books.
Short story collections include:
"Cheapest Nights", "Love Story", "Isn't It?" , "The Hero", "Too Far", " An Accident of Honour", "Al Naddaha", "A House Made of Flesh" .
Plays: "Farahat Republic", "King of Cotton", "Critical Moment", "Al Farafeer" ( common people), "The Earthly Farce", "The Stripped", "The Third Sex", "Towards an Arabic Theatre".
Novels: "The Prohibited", "The Wrong", "Men and Bulls", "The Black Soldier", "The White"
Reflections: "Limited Frankness", "The Discovery of a Continent", "Dr.Youssef Idrees's Diary," in three parts.
Stories for children: "Right", "A Look", "Is It a plaything?" , "Play" and the "Grey Triangle".
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