In the previous chapter, I discussed the works of Egyptian fiction where Nasser is one of the protagonists. These works are concerned not so much with representing a full biographical account of Nasser as with offering a particular model of engagement with his character. By introducing Nasser as an intellectual, a beast, a martyr, and a defendant, these narratives engage in a process of fictionalisation of the president, whereby Nasser's life is reimagined, altered, distorted, or anachronised. In so doing, the readers of these works are left with multiple Nassers whose representations in the texts, while claiming a link to the historical character that he was, do significantly depart from it. As was mentioned in the previous chapter, however, a larger corpus of Egyptian narratives opts for a different negotiation of Nasser's character. Represented through the actions, dialogues, or monologues of the main characters, Nasser in this category of writings does not emerge as a protagonist. Rather, he is described, debated, glorified, or undermined by protagonists whose lives interact with, or are influenced by, Nasser's. Nowhere in these narratives is Nasser given a voice. Nowhere does he directly speak. Nor, for that matter, do any of these narratives seek to portray portions of Nasser's life. In other words, Nasser emerges as a background, as a major or minor constituent of the history during which the events of these narratives develop.
In this chapter, I shall examine select literary narratives that feature Nasser as part of its discourse. These works, I argue, offer invaluable access to Nasser in the Egyptian imaginary, where the otherwise unknowable subjects of Nasser's Egypt are empowered to speak. As Naomi Sokoloff shows, ‘Imaginative writing may penetrate the intimate, never communicated thoughts of someone else and so reveal the hidden side of people, or give voice to those not readily heard by society.’ Of all imaginative writing, narratives possess a salient position as a medium in which ‘the unspoken thoughts, feelings, perceptions of a person other than the speaker can be portrayed’.