“Alexandria is still alive and alters even when one tries to sum her up . . . . Only the climate, only the north wind and the sea remain as pure as when Menelaus, the first visitor, landed three thousand years ago.” In the autumn of 1915, in a “slightly heroic mood”, E.M. Forster arrived in Alexandria, full of lofty ideals as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Yet most of his time was spent exploring “the magic, antiquity and complexity” of the place in order to cope with living in what he saw as a “funk-hole.” With a novelist’s pen, he brings to life the fabled, romantic city of Alexander the Great, capital of Greco-Roman Egypt, beacon of light and culture symbolized by the Pharos, where the doomed love affair of Antony and Cleopatra was played out and the greatest library the world has ever known was built. Threading three thousand years of history with vibrant strands of literature and punctuating the narrative with his own experiences, Forster immortalized Alexandria, painting an incomparable portrait of the great city and, inadvertently, himself.
A History and a Guide
Introduction byLawrence Durrell
For sale only in the Middle East
American Travelers on the Nile
Early U.S. Visitors to Egypt, 1774–1839
Early U.S. Visitors to Egypt, 1774–1839Andrew Oliver
The Treaty of Ghent signed in 1814, ending the War of 1812, allowed Americans once again to travel abroad. Medical students went to Paris, artists to Rome, academics to Göttingen, and tourists to all European capitals. More intrepid Americans ventured to Athens, to Constantinople, and even to Egypt. Beginning with two eighteenth-century travelers, this book then turns to the 25-year period after 1815 that saw young men from East Coast cities, among them graduates of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, traveling to the lands of the Bible and of the Greek and Latin authors they had first known as teenagers. Naval officers off ships of the Mediterranean squadron visited Cairo to see the pyramids. Two groups went on business, one importing steam-powered rice and cotton mills from New York, the other exporting giraffes from the Kalahari Desert for wild animal shows in New York. Drawing on unpublished letters and diaries together with previously neglected newspaper accounts, as well as a handful of published accounts, this book offers a new look at the early American experience in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean world. More than thirty illustrations complement the stories told by the travelers themselves....read more
27 March 2015
34 color illus.
Crowds and Sultans
Urban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and Syria
Urban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and SyriaAmina Elbendary
During the fifteenth century, the Mamluk sultanate that had ruled Egypt and Syria since 1249–50 faced a series of sustained economic and political challenges to its rule, from the effects of recurrent plagues to changes in international trade routes. Both these challenges and the policies and behaviors of rulers and subjects in response to them left profound impressions on Mamluk state and society, precipitating a degree of social mobility and resulting in new forms of cultural expression. These transformations were also reflected in the frequent reports of protests during this period, and led to a greater diffusion of power and the opening up of spaces for political participation by Mamluk subjects and negotiations of power between ruler and ruled. Rather than tell the story of this tumultuous century solely from the point of view of the Mamluk dynasty, Crowds and Sultans places the protests within the framework of long-term transformations, arguing for a more nuanced and comprehensive narrative of Mamluk state and society in late medieval Egypt and Syria. Reports of urban protest and the ways in which alliances between different groups in Mamluk society were forged allow us glimpses into how some medieval Arab societies negotiated power, showing that rather than stoically endure autocratic governments, populations often resisted and renegotiated their positions in response to threats to their interests. This rich and thought-provoking study will appeal to specialists in Mamluk history, Islamic studies, and Arab history, as well as to students and scholars of Middle East politics and government and modern history....read more
1 May 2016
From Cairo to Baghdad
British Travelers in Arabia
British Travelers in ArabiaJames Canton
Until the 1880s, British travelers to Arabia were for the most part wealthy dilettantes who could fund their travels from private means. With the advent of an imperial presence in the region, as the British seized power in Egypt, the very nature of travel to the Middle East changed. Suddenly, ordinary men and women found themselves visiting the region as British influence increased. Missionaries, soldiers, and spies as well as tourists and explorers started to visit the area, creating an even bigger supply of writers, and market for their books. In this elegantly crafted book, James Canton examines over one hundred primary sources, from forgotten gems to the classics of T.E. lawrence, Thesiger, and Philby. He analyzes the relationship between empire and author, showing how the one influenced the other, leading to a vast array of texts that might never have been produced had it not been for the ambitions of imperial Britain....read more
5 b/w illus.
Description of Egypt
Notes and Views in Egypt and Nubia
Edward William Lane Edited and with an introduction Jason Thompson
Notes and Views in Egypt and NubiaEdward William Lane
Edited and with an introduction Jason Thompson
The launching of this hitherto unpublished book by the great nineteenth-century British traveler Edward William Lane (1801–76), a name known to almost everyone in all the many fields of Middle East studies, is a major publishing event. Lane was the author of a number of highly influential works: An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), his translation of The Thousand and One Nights (1839–41), Selections from the Kur-an (1843), and the Arabic–English Lexicon (1863–93). Yet one of his greatest works was never published: after years of labor and despite an enthusiastic reception by the publishing firm of John Murray in 1831, publication of his first book, Description of Egypt, was delayed and eventually dropped, mainly for financial reasons. The manuscript was sold to the British Library by Lane’s widow in 1891, and has only now been salvaged for publication by Dr. Jason Thompson, nearly 170 years after its completion. This enormously important book, which takes the form of a journey through Egypt from north to south, with descriptions of all the ancient monuments and contemporary life that Lane explored along the way, will be of immense interest to both ancient and modern historians of Egypt, and will become an essential companion to his Manners and Customs....read more
1 October 2000
158 b/w illus.