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Anis Mansour
Published in Almasry Alyoum on 13 - 11 - 2008

I was a junior diplomat in London when that legendary writer was visiting. He stayed in a hotel close to the Egyptian consulate. Young Egyptians gathered to hear his catchy speech, amazing stories and sarcastic phrases.
I also remember that when I was an advisor to the Egyptian embassy in India I used to wait for the "diplomatic portfolio" every week to read his episodes in October Magazine, which he had established.
He late compiled them in his wonderful book "Our days in Aqad Salon". I enjoyed those episodes so much because they came under what we called the process of ideological, cultural and social historiography for Egypt in a period that witnessed the flourishing of encyclopedic great figures topped by Mansour, author of "The Genius".
Several people may disagree with Mansour in his political stances, especially his criticisms to the Nasserite age and his stance towards the peace issue and normalization with Israel.
However, Mansour is a unique thinker who affected three generations at least in our modern history. He is ranked first among writers in terms of number of books. He has a great number of readers from different age groups.
However, some people see him – in spite of his great ideological and cultural value – as a nihilistic writer and a pessimist. Also he seems to be despaired with regard to attempts of reform, having reservations for some persons, ideologies and stances.
His book "Around the world in 200 days" will stay a great travel combining between geographical information, cultural perspective and mental enjoyment.
His books have double benefits for his readers and students because they are a cultural supply, a psychological dose and a subject of entertainment.
Moreover, Mansour wrote about "conjuring" and carefully analyzed diseases and pains of society. He is the professor of philosophy, who followed the examples of great men in the academic and cultural fields in Egypt and the world for tens of years.
He is an omnivorous reader and encyclopedic. He is a talented, who has a great attraction till those who are close to him called him the "magician".
In addition, Mansour has tens or, to be more accurate, hundreds of stories, anecdotes and funny situations from his friends from different generations, including scores of thinkers and politicians from all over the world.
Our great writer was tantamount to the cultural advice for late President Sadat. I have known him for tens of years as a calm thinker, vigilant critic, omnivorous reader and renewed writer who has endless knowledge of the history of literature, the culture of peoples and the civilization of both the Arabs and the Westerners, especially when he writes about his great teachers Al-Aqad, Taha Hussein, Tawfiq Al-Haqim, Mansour Fahmi, Abdel Rahman Badawi, etc.
Mansour has another value embodied in his faith in an opened and flourished Egypt, which welcomed foreign communities and made a great experiment of coexistence between Muslims, Copts, Jews, Armenians, Greeks and Italians. Therefore, Egypt had a distinguished character, especially in the first half of the twentieth century.
I also think that this talented writer made a long journey in life from doubt to certainty, from existentialism to faith and from the culture of the West to the civilization of Islam.
Whenever I meet him, I find that he has new questions like renowned philosophers and senior thinkers.
My best regards to this genius writer and eminent journalist with whom people may differ but never disagree about his value as a thinker, a cultured man of letters, and author, a theatrical critic and a social historian.   

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