Georges Henein (1914–73) was a Francophone Egyptian writer who introduced surrealism to the artistic and intellectual milieu of Cairo as early as 1937. The author traces Henein’s engagement with the tenets of surrealism articulated by André Breton in France and his impact introducing, interpreting, and dispersing these ideas among writers, artists, and the public in Egypt for more than two decades. He was most active in Cairo during the years surrounding the Second World War, founding in 1938 the Art and Liberty group of writers and artists, who spread their ideas through the Arabic-language magazine Al Tatawwur (Evolution) and the French-language newpaper Don Quichotte in the early 1940s. Henein also created the publishing company Éditions Masses to help build the reputation of emerging poets, organized and financed five exhibitions in Cairo of surrealist painters and sculptors, and published diverse stories, articles, and poems of his own. A communist at heart, he denounced Farouk’s regime, Hitler’s Nazism, and Stalin’s dictatorship. After openly criticizing Nasser’s authoritarianism, he was forced to leave Egypt in 1962, finally settling in Paris, where he died of cancer. This extraordinary writer, who had made of the French language an intuitive force, came to accept that he would eventually be forgotten in France, the same way he had been forgotten in Egypt.

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