Unpublished papers

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This file contains a fragment of a manuscript left unfinished at the time of Ghali’s death. The fragment is undated. It contains four pages of typescript and 37 handwritten pages. Set in an unidentified West German city in 1965, this fragment introduces the character of Ashl, an intellectual of indeterminate national origins. Ashl is married to a German woman named Gertrude, and they have an infant son named Leonard. Ashl works as a translator for a publishing company. Much of this fragment describes interactions between Ashl and his boss, Jan Hirsch, an Eastern European Jew.


Like “Ashl A,” this file contains a fragment of a manuscript left unfinished at the time of Ghali’s death. The file contains 34 handwritten pages and includes an editing note dating from October 1967. This fragment portrays interactions between Ashl and a sick friend, Rudolfo. Together these fragments offer an extended reflection on exile and a state of non-belonging.


1964 May 24 - 1965 March 27

This file contains the first diary Waguih Ghali kept while living in Rheydt, West Germany between 24 May 1964 and 11 February 1965. During that time Ghali was employed by the British Army Royal Pay Corps. As a result, he writes frequently about interactions with British military personnel. In this notebook, he reflects on the critical reception of Beer in the Snooker Club, and records his earnings from the sale of his book. He also notes his submission of a story to the The Guardian (Manchester), published under the title “The Roses are Real” (20 Feb 1965). As is typical throughout the diary notebooks, he writes about literature he is reading and his efforts to write, friends and romantic interests, drinking and depression.

1965 April 13 - 1965 October 11

For the duration of this diary notebook, running from 13 April 1965 to 11 October 1965, Waguih Ghali continues to reside in Rheydt, West Germany. He regularly complains in these pages about his life in Rhyedt and contemplates leaving. This diary contains some reflections on the inspirations for the fictional characters in Beer in the Snooker Club. Ghali also reminisces about his childhood in Alexandria, his student days in London, and, less fondly, his impoverished existence in Stockholm. Over Easter in 1965, Ghali visits London, and writes about the friends and family he sees there. In June 1965, Ghali suffered lacerations and a concussion from a car accident. In September 1965 Ghali’s editor and friend Diana Athill puts his name forward for a job in London. After he learns that his application was rejected, he accepts a promotion in the British Army Royal Pay Corps, and resigns himself to remaining in Rheydt for another year. As Ghali himself muses on these pages, in this notebook, as in the preceding one, he once again spills a great deal of ink on his romantic entanglements. He also regularly records thoughts on books he is reading.

1965 October 13 - 1966 September 08

This file contains the third volume of Waguih Ghali’s diary begun in Rheydt, West Germany, on 13 October 1965. Ghali describes suffering from severe depression in the closing months of 1965, and contemplates suicide. He writes about his first encounter with East Germany in December 1965 during a brief visit to Berlin. He becomes increasingly discouraged about living in West Germany, and he offers pointed critiques about the treatment of foreign workers there. On 7 February 1966 he notes that he has finished writing a play intended for German television, “about racial discrimination in Germany, about the Spanish civil war, and about the society in Germany.” In April 1966 Ghali writes about attending trials of Nazi S.S. officers in Dusseldorf. In the Spring of 1966, Diana Athill, Ghali’s British editor and friend, arranges for him to come for an extended visit to London. The content and tone of the diary changes following his arrival in London in May 1966. Giddy with excitement, he records details of his active social life in London. During this period there are fewer references to writing or reading. The last entry of this diary notebook is recorded on 8 September 1966.

1966 September 26 - 1967 April 25

This file contains the fourth diary notebook, composed while Waguih Ghali was living in London as a guest in the home of Diana Athill between 26 September 1966 to 25 April 1967. Ghali starts this diary during a trip to Yugoslavia with Athill and some other friends. Following his return to London, Ghali looks for work. In addition to odd household jobs for friends, Ghali mentions working as a typist for the Royal Drawing Society, and being paid for translations from German. He reflects extensively in this volume about his relationship with Athill. As his connections to his life in Germany are severed, he describes feeling unmoored, occasioning a reflection on his perpetual state of homelessness since childhood. He once again falls into a deep state of depression, and drinks heavily. Near the end of the diary, an encounter with someone Ghali deems a true intellectual prompts some reflection on the emptiness of his other social interactions in London, and occasions his only reflections on literature in this volume.

1967 May 11 - 1968 January 03

This file contains Waguih Ghali’s fifth dairy notebook. It was composed while he resided in London between 11 May 1967 and 3 January 1968. Ghali’s attentions turn toward Middle East politics following the Arab-Israeli war in June 1967. He decides to travel to Israel as a journalist in what he describes as: “’an Egyptian interviewing the Israelis’ gimmick.” Ghali spends six weeks in Israel between July and September 1967 from where he filed two reports printed in The Times (London). He also presented an editorial on the BBC radio’s “Third Programme” in December 1967. This volume contains the notes about his preparation to travel to Israel, his visit, and the aftermath of his trip.

1968 January 29 - 1968 December 26

This file contains the sixth and final diary notebook composed by Waguih Ghali, beginning on 29 January 1968. The transcript of his BBC radio broadcast about his visit to Israel is published in The Listener in January 1968. Ghali writes about public speaking engagements as an Egyptian who visited Israel, and the people he meets as a result. His political musings in these pages also include reflections on the Vietnam War. Ghali continues to reside in London, but returns to Dusseldorf for a visit and stops in Paris. Entries suggest that Ghali was attempting to write fiction during this period—he mentions working on what he calls the “Ashl novel” and a short story. The chilling final entry on 26 December 1968 is composed after Ghali had swallowed the pills that ultimately kill him.