“Going Easily Under”: Waguih Ghali’s Diary of Depression

Waguih Ghali’s Diary of Depression


Egyptian Anglophone writer Waguih Ghali (192? – 1969) has been mostly known for his novel Beer in the Snooker Club (London: Serpent's Tale, 1987) up until his diaries appeared in an online archive dedicated solely to his unpublished papers. A few years ago, the American University in Cairo published Ghali’s diaries into two volumes under the title The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Writer in the Swinging Sixties (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2016, 2017). They were released to readers and fans, playing the role of a long awaited second work and also satisfying the general curiosity around his life before his suicide in the late sixties. In May 1964, Ghali started keeping his diary as an attempt to deal with his depression which culminated in his final entry being his suicide note: the trajectory Ghali’s diary takes is that of ‘feeling bad’. Ghali struggles with bouts of depression and although is unable to write more fiction, continues to write about his almost daily battle with mental illness in the practice of keeping the diary. His diaries reveal various emotions that stem out of his depression: sadness, disgust, anger, loneliness, and heartbreak. This paper will trace the affective outpourings of Ghali’s depression within the genre structure of the diary taking into consideration that his diary is not only a diary of depression but also of exile. The paper will attempt to understand how exile as a state of being affects Ghali’s emotional state. Moreover, by connecting how Ghali writes about ‘feeling bad’ in the form of a diary, the paper questions the relationship between his practice as a diarist to his display of such feelings.


diaries; life-writing; Waguih Ghali; depression; exile; Egypt

Abu-Lughod, Lila, and Catherine A .Lutz, eds. Language and the Politics of Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Ahmed, Sara. „Home and away: Narratives of migration and estrangement.“ International Journal of Cultural Studies 1999, 2, no. 3 (1999): 329–347. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/136787799900200303.

Cvetkovich, Ann. Depression: A Public Feeling. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012. Culley, Margo. ed. A Day at a Time: The Diary Literature of American Women from 1764 to the Present. New York: Feminist Press at CUNY, 1985.

Ghali, Waguih. Waguih Ghali Unpublished Papers: Diaries (1964–1968), Man-uscript Fragments and Letters. 2013. https://ghali.library.cornell.edu/.

Ghali Diary Notebook 1”. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/33320.

Ghali, Waguih. The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Writer in the Swing-ing Sixties 1964–1966. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2016.

Ghali, Waguih. The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Writer in the Swing-ing Sixties 1966–1968. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2017.

Lejeune, Philippe. On Diary. University of Hawaii Press, 2009.

Merry, Bruce. “The Literary Diary as a Genre.” The Maynooth Review/Revieú Mhá Nuad, vol. 5, No. 1 (May, 1979): 3–19. https://www.jstor.org/sta-ble/20556925. Ngai, Sianne. Ugly Feelings. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.


Published : 2020-12-31

Magdy, Z. (2020). “Going Easily Under”: Waguih Ghali’s Diary of Depression. Transfer. Reception Studies, 5, 159-179. https://doi.org/10.16926/trs.2020.05.06

Zainab Magdy  zainabmagdy@cu.edu.eg

DB Error: Unknown column 'Array' in 'where clause'