Mohamed Enani: A Celebrated Egyptian Scholar and Translator

Mohamed Enani (Arabic: محمد عناني) was a prominent figure in the world of literature, known for his exceptional contributions as a translator, fiction writer, dramatist, critic, and scholar. Born on January 4, 1939, in Rosetta, El-Behera, Egypt, Enani’s life was dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and the art of language. His passing on January 3, 2023, marked the end of an era in Egyptian literature and translation.

Educational Journey

Enani’s educational journey laid a strong foundation for his future endeavors. He earned a B.A. (hons.) in English Language and Literature from Cairo University in 1959, a testament to his early commitment to language and literature. His thirst for knowledge led him to the United Kingdom, where he pursued higher education.

In the UK, Enani achieved significant milestones, receiving his M. Phil. from London University in 1970 and his Ph.D. from Reading University, Berkshire in 1975. These academic achievements solidified his expertise and laid the groundwork for his future contributions to literature and translation.

A Prolific Writer and Translator

Throughout his illustrious career, Mohamed Enani authored an impressive body of work, totaling more than 130 books in both Arabic and English. His literary output spanned a wide range of genres, encompassing translations, critical essays, and creative writings. His work showcased his deep understanding of language and literature.

BBC Monitoring Service

Enani’s professional journey included a significant stint at the BBC Monitoring Service in Caversham, Berkshire, where he served as a foreign language monitor from 1968 to 1975. This period coincided with his pursuit of advanced degrees from London and Reading Universities. Enani’s work at the BBC further enriched his linguistic and cultural insights.

Academic Contributions

Returning to Egypt in 1975, Enani embarked on an academic career as an English lecturer at Cairo University. His dedication to education extended to his involvement in the Egyptian Writers Union. Over the years, he ascended the academic ranks, becoming an Assistant Professor of English in 1981 and eventually earning full tenure at Cairo University in 1986. Notably, he also served as the Head of the Department of English from 1993 to 1999.

Enani’s commitment to education extended beyond the confines of Cairo University. He played a pivotal role as the Academic Coordinator of Cairo Open University’s English Translation Programme from 1997 to 2009. His contributions to the program included authoring and revising various translation books and teaching manuals since 1997.

Additionally, from 1986 to 2003, he assumed the role of general editor for the series “Modern Arabic Literature”, featuring Arabic literary works translated into English. This series, comprising 75 titles, was published by the state publishing house (GEBO). From 2000 onwards, he took charge of the second series of “A Thousand Books”, an initiative focused on translating books into Arabic, published by GEBO.

Theatre and Cultural Contributions

Beyond his literary and academic pursuits, Mohamed Enani’s influence extended to the world of theatre. He witnessed several of his Arabic plays staged in Cairo and across Egyptian provinces, demonstrating his versatility as a dramatist. These productions included seven original works, three adaptations, and three translations, spanning from 1964 to 2000.

His commitment to theatre also saw him serve as the editor of Egyptian Theatre magazine from 1986, fostering a platform for discussions on theatrical arts. He shared his editorial expertise as the co-editor of the Cairo monthly cultural publication Sutur from 1997 to 2007.

Awards and Recognitions

Mohamed Enani’s outstanding contributions did not go unnoticed. He received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career, celebrating his dedication to literature and translation. Some of these notable honors include:

  • State Award in Translation, 1982: Acknowledging his translation of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” into Arabic.
  • Order of Sciences and Arts, 1st Class, 1984: Recognizing his significant contributions.
  • Ben Turki’s Award of Excellence in Translation into English, 1998: A prestigious Saudi Arabian Prize sponsored by the Arab League.
  • State Award of Excellence in Letters, 1999: Commending his literary achievements.
  • Award of Credit for distinguished performance in writing for the theatre from the Egyptian Theatre Institute, 2000: Recognizing his contributions to theatrical arts.
  • State Award of Merit in Letters, 2002: Celebrating his lifelong dedication to literature.
  • International Translation Award of King Abdullah, 2011: Recognizing his contributions to translation.
  • ALESCO Prize for translation into English, Baghdad, 2013: Highlighting his impact on translation.
  • Rifa’ah Al-Tahtawi Prize for Translation into Arabic, National Translation Centre, 2014: Commending his efforts in translating works into Arabic.

A Lasting Legacy

Mohamed Enani’s legacy is one of dedication, scholarship, and a profound love for language and literature. His impact on Egyptian and Arabic literature, as well as his contributions to translation and education, continue to inspire generations of scholars and writers.