Inspired by

He was inspired by almost everything; by the simplest things in life: a baby-coat hanging at the entrance of a friend's home, an empty envelope, the sad words of a tramway conductor, a piece of white chalk, a butterfly, the picture of a poet named Shelly, a dirty lane off a main street, a drop of water, a funeral...

He wrote in abstracts and in symbols. Those above mentioned 'simplest things in life' were not his subjects, but they were his inspiration. He did not really see them, but he saw through and beyond them. They ignited flames for much deeper themes.

The baby-coat hanging at an entrance, inspired him on the spot with his famous symbolic novel "Bitter Honey", written in 1958, in which he indirectly tackles ideas of dictatorship and communism.

Gazing at an empty envelope lying at a table, was the spark to a most touching short story , "A Letter to God", 1948.

"I'm a painter sir, but my misfortunate destiny made me become a tramway conductor!" On listening to those words of a sad tramway man, Eassa was deeply touched and immediately inspired to write, "Sikosita" in 1946, "tackling the absurdity of an existence where dreams are shattered and a person's destiny dictated by a set of equally ludicrous figures of authority"*.

A piece of chalk was behind his philosophical play, "Visitors", 1965, where the identity of man is brilliantly analyzed through a world of an awakening subconscious, and dreamy flashbacks.

Spotting a butterfly hovering with grace, aroused ideas of war and peace. Furthermore, the study of Zoology, merged with his meditative nature, inspired his short story, "Butterfly Dreaming" , 1936, analyzing the oddity of man on earth.

Seeing the angelic features of P.B. Shelly in a picture created the character of "The Poet ", in his amazing novel, "The Façade", 1981. The whole novel was first inspired to our writer, while walking down a big, main road in a poor city and spotting a dirty sub-street, which quickly appeared then disappeared. Eassa recalls seeing a goose wondering in the sub-street and immediately the novel was made and finished in his head.

Glancing at a drop of water over the table inspired his play, "In a " Drop of Water ", 1947, where a world of fantasy comes so close to reality and where man's understanding of life is stripped to its abstracts.

Taking the train back home, devastated, after attending his sister's funeral, he began to compose his most poetic play, "Room with no Windows ", 1960, where death has a totally different meaning in another world.

He went way beyond time and place. His themes were noble and variable, characterized by a fertility of imagination, a depth of thought and a daringness to tackle ideas and themes, which seemed untouchable.

However deep themes he tackled, there is yet a sweetness in his writings and an ease and a fluffiness in his style. A reader would find Eassa's style most captivating up to the very last word and is then, left to wonder about what has been read. His style has been described by critics as "the simple but unattainable" **. A critic once said, "after reading Youssef Ezeddin Eassa, you will never be the same person again." *** Readers come to meditate and wonder about so many things in life, which had been taken fore granted before. The usual then becomes unusual, magical and fascinating.

The main concern in his writings is man in any part of the world; his struggle, suffering and destiny. Being a visionary thinker as well as a poet; his ideas have always crossed locality boundaries, where nationalities, races, religions and sometimes even, names, mold into abstracts, giving his talent an unlimited freedom of thought and space to imagine and express. Man in Eassa's work is just man; names and places, even time, signify nothing and change nothing about man's fate and destin

In Eassa's work, words and phrases have functions just like musical notes. Nothing at all is irrelevant in promoting the action and serving the theme. If places and names do exist in some of his works, they are there for a purpose and the whole structure would fall without them. However, the causes behind any of his works are global even if the work is given common names and places.

With more to his works than the traditional stereotypes of art, he spontaneously brought some changes to the traditional classifications of a tragic hero. A tragic hero in Eassa's works does not meet his tragic end due to a flaw in his character, but due to the flaws and indifference of the community around him. Moreover, Eassa believed that depicting flaws in a character could sometimes be irrelevant to a work of art unless such flaws prove to have a function in promoting the action and serving the theme. In his works, a tragic hero is not ennobled and purified by suffering, but he suffers because he is already noble and pure, set against a non-appreciating, corrupt society. However, Eassa's heroes do suffer and their sufferings add to their purity and that is where Eassa's irony lies. Eassa's irony lies in the fact that those who get purified with suffering are already pure, while those who escape such purification are the ones who need it most. Eassa mastered the analysis of a corrupt third world society, excelled at portraying brutalities in the human nature, that most people take fore granted. Whether humans are responsible for their brutalities or not, was always a question paused in his works.

Those are some of the main themes in Eassa's work; his focus is man and his surroundings. Yet, however hard man tries, there are matters that man simply cannot escape and cannot change because they are not man's fault. Man is made to bear the injustice of his existence, which was not man's choice. Man is also made to come to terms with death as an ending to existence, which is also not man's choice. Amidst all the injustices and struggle enforced upon man, there is yet a significant touch in Eassa's works about the joy of excitement in man's struggle and a love for life, that amazingly exists despite all the sufferings.

"A Man Apart'', 'Egypt Today', Rania Elmalky, 2001 ** "Eassa's The Man Who Sold his Head,", Dr. Saeed Al Waraky, 1981 *** "A Look into Form and Content in Eassa's art'', Dr. Zakareya Anany, 1982