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Ructions in the Seraglio

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 8 December 1994

The Harem Within: Tales of a Moroccan Girlhood 
by Fatima Mernissi.
Doubleday, 254 pp., £16.99, September 1994, 0 385 40542 1
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by Out el Kouloub, translated by Nayra Atiya.
Syracuse, 201 pp., £13.50, July 1994, 0 8156 0280 4
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... published in France in 1958 and has been freely translated into English for the present edition by Nayra Atiya. Though it reads like autobiography, Ramza is a fiction, whose all-too-symbolically named heroine (‘Ramza’ means ‘symbol’) engages in a thwarted but prophetic struggle against the restrictions of the harem. Set in late 19th-century Egypt ...

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