Mahmoud Messadi

Mahmoud Messadi


محمود المسعدي

Mahmoud Messadi was a Tunisian author and intellectual who also served as Minister of Education and Minister of Culture. He is one of the most prominent Tunisian novelists of the 20th century. After completing high school in Tunis in 1933, he travelled to Paris to study Arabic language and literature at the Sorbonne University. His PhD dissertation was on Abu Nuwas, and he prepared a second dissertation on the rhythm of classical Arabic poetry.

In addition to teaching at universities in both Tunisia and France, Messadi was involved in politics and participated in the negotiations with France for Tunisia’s independence in 1955. Following independence, he served as a member of parliament from 1959 until 1981. Messadi worked closely with Tunisia’s first president, Habib Bourguiba, on education policy. He served as Bourguiba’s minister of education from 1958–1968 and as minister of culture from 1973–1976. This era in Tunisia was known for far-reaching educational reforms under the newly independent government, and many of these policies came to be known as the “Messadi plan”.

Messadi wrote his important works between 1939 and 1947. They reveal the Qur’anic influence on his intellectual and belief formation and on his style.

© Moncef Al Riahi
Date of birth : 1911
Date of death: 2004
Country of birth: Tunisia
Country of residence: Tunisia
Publisher(s): Sud Editions

Selected bibliography

  • مولد النسيان وتأملات اخرى, The Birth of Forgetfulness and Other Reflections*, Al Dar Al Tunisiyah lil-Nashr / Sud Editions, Tunisia, 1974. Spanish translation: Nos lo contó Abu Hurayra, UNESCO : Huerga y Fierro, Spain, 1996, trans. by Santiago Martínez de Francisco; German translation: Aus Imrans Tagen und andere Betrachtungen, Ed. Hamouda, Germany, 2012, trans. by Sahbi Thabet
  • حدث ابو هريرة قال, Thus Spoke Abu Huraryrah*, Al Dar Al Tunisiyah lil-Nashr, Tunisia / Sud Editions, 1973. German translation: Und es sprach Abu Hurairata, Ed. Hamouda, Germany, 2009, trans. by Sahbi Thabet
  • السد : رواية في ثمانية مناظر , The Dam: a Novel in Eight Mirrors*, Sharikat al-Nashr li-Shimal Afriqiya, 1955. French translation: Le barrage : drame en huit tableaux, Éditions Naaman, Canada, 1981, trans. by Azzedine Guellouz; German translation: Der Staudamm, Ed. Hamouda, Germany, 2007, trans. by Sahbi Thabet; English translation: The Dam, Sahar Editions, Tunisia, 2016, trans. by Anour Attia

*Working title

Prizes and awards

Ce drame en huit tableaux est l’une des œuvres majeures et les plus singulières de la littérature tunisienne (in French) by Le Monde Diplomatique in August/September 2018 (about The Dam: a Novel in Eight Mirrors)

It is impossible to speak about the achievement of Tunisian literature without the name of Mahmoud Messadi grabbing an outstanding position in it by ArabLit in July 2012

Mahmoud Messadi: The Icon of Tunisian Narration by Tunisianlit in July 2012 (blogpost)


Book(s) featured on this site

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