In celebration of the English-language publication of Ihsan Abdel Kouddous’s I Do Not Sleep, translated by Jonathan Smolin, we have a small special section on Abdel Kouddous.
Dozens of Ihsan Abdel Kouddous’s (1919-1990) popular novels have been adapted to film, many of them popular and groundbreaking cinematic works in their own right.
As Smolin said in a wide-ranging discussion of Abdel Kouddous and his work, many films adapted from Abdel Kouddous’s novels became “classics of melodrama, and so many actors and actresses really built their careers on his films. Fifty films were based on Ihsan’s fiction.”
Among these was the beloved I Am Free, the script for which was adapted by Naguib Mahfouz. In a re-assessment of the film in Mada Masr in 2015, Rowan El Shimi wrote: “Salah Abu Seif’s 1958 production Ana Hurra (I am Free) was definitely ahead of its time. But then again so was the Ihsan Abdel Quddous novel it was based on, published in 1952.”
El Shimi adds: Salah “Abu Seif made film adaptations of several of Abdel [Kouddous’s] novels during this period, resulting in Al-Wesada Al-Khalya (The Empty Pillow, 1957), La Anam (I Don’t Sleep, 1956) and Al-Banat Wal Seif (Girls and the Summer, 1960). Though not as progressive as I am Free, all had female characters in the lead role.”
Several films made from Abdel Kouddous’s novels can be watched on YouTube, including I Don’t Sleep:
Ali Shakir: The Silencing of Ihsan Abdel Kouddous
Two short stories by Abdel Kouddous: