The Harem Within

The Harem Within In harems still abounded in Fez Morocco They weren t the opulent bejeweled harems of Scherezade but the domestic sprawl of extended families encamped around a walled courtyard that marked the

  • Title: The Harem Within
  • Author: Fatema Mernissi
  • ISBN: 9780385405423
  • Page: 425
  • Format: None
  • In 1940, harems still abounded in Fez, Morocco They weren t the opulent, bejeweled harems of Scherezade, but the domestic sprawl of extended families encamped around a walled courtyard that marked the edges of women s lives Though born into this tightly sheltered world, Fatimi Mernissi is constantly urged by her rebellious mother to spring beyond it Worried that MernissIn 1940, harems still abounded in Fez, Morocco They weren t the opulent, bejeweled harems of Scherezade, but the domestic sprawl of extended families encamped around a walled courtyard that marked the edges of women s lives Though born into this tightly sheltered world, Fatimi Mernissi is constantly urged by her rebellious mother to spring beyond it Worried that Mernissi is too shy and quiet, her mother tells her, You must learn to scream and protest, just the way you learned to walk and talk In Dreams of Trespass, an enjoyable weave of memory and fantasy, it is clear that Mernissi s fertile imagination let her slip back and forth through the gates that trapped her restive mother She spins amiable, often improbable tales of the rigidly proper city harem in Fez and the contrasting freedoms of the country harem where her grandmother Yakima lives There, one of Yakima s cowives rides like the wind, another swims like a fish, and Yakima relishes twitting the humorless first wife by naming a fat, waddling duck after her.

    One thought on “The Harem Within”

    1. Original review I bought this book as brand new. It looks brand new. It feels brand new. There is masses of underlining inside. The seller should be locked up and flogged on the soles of their feet.'Proper' review (see comment 5) The book was pretty good, very informative about the goings on in a harem. The machinations and manipulations of the women to get what they want which they often do, except freedom. They are caged birds who sing on demand and are there to be petted and admired and fed d [...]

    2. “When you happen to be trapped powerless behind walls, stuck in a dead-end harem, you dream of escape. And magic flourishes when you spell out that dream and make the frontiers vanish. Dreams can change your life, and eventually the world. Liberation starts with images dancing in your little head, and you translate those images in words. And words cost nothing!”- Fatima Mernissi,Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem GirlhoodI just recently came across Moroccan feminist and sociologist Fatima [...]

    3. Despite its appearance on every reading list related to Morocco, I’d resisted reading Mernissi’s recent recounting of growing up in Fez in the 1940s and ’50s. “A harem girlhood?” Exotic and titillating, I thought, but not likely a typical upbringing. Now that I’ve read this fascinating memoir, I realize that the western stereotype of “harem” – dancing girls who take turns pleasing a wealthy sultan – hardly matches the reality. In fact, Mernissi notes, the everyday domestic ha [...]

    4. A lovely book on multiple levels. Mernissi's account of a girlhood in an upper-middle class family in Fez in the 1940s is both a luminous and gently affectionate memoir and a penetrating look at the idea of the harem, of a separate women's world within the household. Mernissi is very clear: the harems of her youth were not the lascivious fantasy-lands of the Arabian Nights or Orientalist painting, but communal spaces where the women of the household lived behind a "sacred boundary", where they l [...]

    5. Può sapere, una bambina, cosa sia un harem?La parola Harem è leggera variente di Haràm, il 'proibito', il 'vietato'. Ha a che fare con limiti e confini mentali soprattutto, non solo costituiti da mattoni pazientemente messi uno sull'altro.Questa bambina vive all'interno di esso: mura alte e un unico portone, un guardiano e l'intero mondo fuori. E molti altri 'mondi interiori', dentro.Ognuno di essi appartiene a ciascuna donna che lì con lei vive: la madre, la nonna, le zie, le cugine, le par [...]

    6. ولدت فاطمة في حريم فاس المدينة المغربية التي تقع على بعد خمسة آلاف كلم غرب مكة وألف كلم جنوب مدريد ,إحدى عواصم النصارى القساة ,مشاكلتهم مع النصارى كما يقول والدها وكما هو الشأن مع النساء حين لا تحترم الحدود ,وقد ولدت في فترة فوضى عارضة إذ أن النساء والنصارى كانو يحتجون على الح [...]

    7. I read this after reading Scheherazade Goes West - which expands on the differences shown here.This is actually a wonderful book about Mernissi's childhood in a harem and a comparison of that harem with that of her grandmother. Instead of telling, Mernissi shows you the different lives of the women in each harem, and deepens the understanding or view of it. You find yourself caught in the struggles of the women - in particular Chama and Mernissi's own mother.And the ending phrase, is something e [...]

    8. يدور حول الحريم المغربي الذي نشأت فيه في الأربعينيات من القرن الماضي من وجهة نظر طفلة في السابعة من عمرها و عن العزل و الكبت الذي كان يمارس على النساء فيه، مما جعل أمها ذات مرة تضربها حين رأتها وضعت حجابا و هي صغيرة، محذرة إياها أن تقترف الحجاب مرة ثانية و أن عليها ألا تكون محب [...]

    9. Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood is a coming of age story, set in Morocco during WWII, an account of Yasmina's attempt to decipher the cloistered world within and the greater world beyond the family home in Fez. The book almost seems a cross between an autobiography and an ethnographic study of French Colonial Morocco, just as the stirrings of an independence movement are in the air. It can't really be compared to The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank but there are certain similar [...]

    10. Unas memorias literarias de la infancia de Fatema Mernissi en uno de los últimos harenes tradicionales de Fez, allá por los años 40 y 50 del siglo pasado. Hay mucho de recreación literaria, filosófica y antropológica, por lo que no sabemos bien cuánto fue real. Cuando lo leí, disfruté muchísimo con las alegorías que contiene el libro y las referencias a la Sherezade de las Mil y una noches. Y al terminar la lectura, sentí admiración por la autora: ¿fue analfabeta hasta la adolescen [...]

    11. I must admit that I am more of a fan of Fatima Mernissi herself than her books. The Morrocan feminist is an icon in her own country. Born in a 1940, she did indeed grow up in a harem and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Political Science, teach sociology at Mohammed V University in Rabat, do research for UNESCO, and publish a handful of books and a multitude of articles. What is not to like? It is safe to say that she is the doyenne of scholarly research addressing the validity (or lack thereof) [...]

    12. Un livre intéressant, bien loin de ce que nous pouvons imaginer d'un vrai harem, sans fioriture ni drame. Dans ce beau récit enchanteur de mille et une nuits à la marocaine, Fatima Mernissi nous fait voyager dans un vrai harem de Fès, au cours des années 40, tout en essayant d'attribuer une définition au mot harem. La petite Fatima de 9 ans nous raconte "tout en posant des questions assez simples mais vraiment cocasses" la vie quotidienne de femmes étouffées dans un carcan de traditions [...]

    13. الوقوع في التناقض يعني أنكم عندما تطرحون سؤالاً تكون لديكم إجابات كثيرة جدا, وذلك لن يؤدي إلاّ لتفاقم تشوّشكم وقالت أيضاً العمة : وحين يقع المرء في تناقض, لا يشعر بأنّه ذكيُّ إلاّ أنكم إن أردتم أن تصبحوا راشدين, فعليكم أن تتعلموا كيف تتعاملون مع التناقض و لكن كيف ؟صِحنا جميعنا [...]

    14. أحببتها جدًا، أحببت الصورة التي نقلتها عن المجتمع المغربي آنذاك بتلك البساطة والوضوح.أحببت فاطمة الطفلة وحسدتها على هذا العالم الثري بالتنوع الذي عاشته.أحببت نصائح أمها أن لا تعرف التعاسة أبدًا ولا تعرف من الحياة إلا السعادة والانطلاق والبهجة والفرح.أحببت شامة، والعمة حبي [...]

    15. كتاب ممتع جدا بلغة غاية في الجمال متوسطة مابين السهولة والتغلغل في العمق خيل لي اثناء قرائته أني اشاهد القفاطين المغربية والبيوت المزينة طبعا يحكي عن فترة ماقبل التحرير في المغرب وأستطاعت الكاتبة ان تنتقل من الوصف الحالم للوصف الساخر بكل سلاسة من خلال قصص قصيرة ذات مواضيع [...]

    16. الشيء الوحيد المتأكدة منه بعد إنهاء هذا الكتاب هو أنه سيكون من أوائل الكتب التي سأهديها لإبنتي يوما ما.وكما حلمت فاطمة "بيوم نخلق فيه عالما خاليا من الجدران والجنود، حراسه في إجازة طوال ايام السنة" سنحلم نحن بذلك، وسنحاول أن نشيد هذا العالم، ولو كان عالما صغيرا بحيط فينا بدائ [...]

    17. كثرة اللت والعجن لايصال الافكار والتصورات مرهقةحاولت ان ادخل معها عالم نساء الحريم واحلامهن وسجنهنلكن نفسي أبت ذلك وخاصة التكرار

    18. "Despertarse al amanecer- decía mi madre-, si pudiera salir a pasear por la mañana temprano, cuando las calles están desiertas ¿ de qué color será la mañana en las calles desiertas y silenciosas?.ººMernissi nos cuenta en este libro su infancia en un harén doméstico de Fez, con una narrativa que te captura desde el principio. (" buscar la frontera se ha convertido en la ocupación de mi vida mi infancia fue feliz porque las fronteras eran claras como el agua. La primera era la puerta q [...]

    19. A Moroccan Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Well, not quite. But there is something of the wistfulness of Francie in Fatima Mernissi, a young girl growing up within the confines of a harem in Fez. The idea of a harem in the 1940s is somewhat different than the stereotype, and the definition of the word is something that Mernissi goes into in great detail. Let's just say that there are no eunuchs waving palm fronds or scenes from The History of the World, Part I, or Scheherazade. Although, the tales of Sc [...]

    20. "شخص واحد يملك سلطة تغيير هذا الوضع وجعل الأرض تدور في النهر المعاكس وهذا الشخص هو أنتِ.إذا قاومتِ الاحتقار وحلمتِ بعالم مخالف تتغير وجهة الأرض ولكن ما عليك تجنبه بأي ثمن ،وهو أن لا يمتد هذا الاحتقار الذي يحيط بك إلى داخلك .!"تحكي لنا فاطمة عن طفولتها و عيشها في مجتمع الحريم ال [...]

    21. We were traveling to Fez so I thought I should read a bit about the life of woman in Fez. The book was an easy read and had many historic facts that helped me understand what a "modern" day harem is all about--this is not easily answered you find out. It weaves old Moroccan tails with current changes which was so entertaining. After I finished it, I suggested my husband read it even though it is somewhat a woman's story. To my surprise he finished it quickly and enjoyed it also. In Fez, we had a [...]

    22. This is a first-hand account of living in a harem. Fatima Mernissi is a great writer and leaves us to drop our nostalgic memories encouraged by orientalist male writers of the wonderful freedom of the harem to face the enslavement that it truly represented for the women trapped inside. A must read if one is to understand the reality behind books by authors like Mahfouz.

    23. مالفرق بين حريم اليوم عن الأمس عن حريم فاس عن الضيعة لكل مكان حريمه متى ماكان هناك احتقار وذل وتبعية .

    24. Semi-autobiographical.This was a book I'd been meaning to read ever since I visited Morocco two years ago, so I was very happy that my English/Arabic book group chose to read it for this month's discussion.Although it appears to be a memoir, the author's web site refers to it as a work of fiction and notes that this fact appears in the French (and Arabic) version, but not in the English one.There are various sorts of harem around the world and the author describes two distinct types in her narr [...]

    25. Let's start with what i liked:I like how vividly their life was described, i liked how skillfuly women's mind was displayed, i liked that it showed different types of women with differnt views, how can women be against basic feminine rights and how can others be pro and still have their sanity and common sense despite the peer pressure, the society, the raising and the humiliation, How can they still preserve their self respect and self worth in their own eyes and not submit or be brainwashed a [...]

    26. This book is part of the Muslim Journeys bookshelf, a grant program sponsored by the NEH to support discussion and knowledge of different cultures. Mernissi relates tales of her experiences in a harem in Morocco in the 40s and 50s. Mernissi's harem is controlled by her father and his relatives and includes her grandmother, mother, aunts and uncles, servants and even women who would normally be abandoned by society. Mernissi relates the two controlling influences in the harem: the one wants to ma [...]

    27. An interesting memoir by Fatema Mernessi that spans a very short period of her young life - until she was about nine years old. Mernissi was a Moroccan feminist writer and sociologist, who died in November 2015. Her early years were spent living in a harem in Fez - harem was the place of shelter or the living quarters for females - mothers, daughters, widows, aunts, etc. Men’s quarters were separate. There were dos and don’ts - no crossing the “hudud” or frontier, and girls were taught t [...]

    28. This memoir is of the first 9 or 10 years of Fatema Mernissi's life written from a child's point of view. Adult reflections giving us hints of the world beyond the walls are presented as discussions she had with adults (mostly women) in the large household. Ms. Mernissi's childhood in 1940's Morocco was a time of tremendous societal change. I finished the book wanting to read more about the era. The image most Americans have of harem life is pretty much a male fantasy that doesn't reflect the re [...]

    29. Mernissi's semi-fictional childhood autobiography managed to literally enchant me, so much so that I was close to sobbing in big gulps when the last page had to be turned. She manages to slip in such a load of information about Arab feminists, and the historical period she focuses on, while constantly and elaborately creating a ravishing cast of characters. I am surely biased in my appreciation of this book, seen as I read it to alleviate my pangs of missing Morocco after my stay there. With her [...]

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