In Egypt, Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905) is now generally remembered as a great scholar and a patriot, a great renewer of Islam, one of those who awakened the nation—though the details of this greatness have grown somewhat fuzzy with time. Among scholars, in the Muslim world and the west, he is known as Islam’s leading modernist. For some, his modernism consisted of creating a synthesis of Islam and modern thought; for others, it consisted of the bridge he built between the old world and the new. Some see him as having revived true Islam, some as having proposed an alternative to true Islam. One question that this new biography addresses, then, is quite what his modernism consisted of. Another question is where his modernism came from. And a final question is what happened to it after his death.
An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians
Edward William Lane Introduced by Jason Thompson
Introduced by Jason Thompson
Few works about the Middle East have exerted such wide and long-lasting influence as Edward William Lane’s An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. First published in 1836, this classic book has never gone out of print, continuously providing material and inspiration for generations of scholars, writers, and travelers, who have praised its comprehensiveness, detail, and perception. Yet the editions in print during most of the twentieth century would not have met Lane’s approval. Lacking parts of Lane’s text and many of his original illustrations (while adding many that were not his), they were based on what should have been ephemeral editions, published long after the author’s death. Meanwhile, the definitive fifth edition of 1860, the result of a quarter century of Lane’s corrections, reconsiderations, and additions, long ago disappeared from bookstore shelves. Now the 1860 edition of Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians is available again, with a useful general introduction by Jason Thompson. Lane’s greatest work enters the twenty-first century in precisely the form that he wanted....read more
15 December 2012
131 line drawings
Edward William Lane, 1801–1876
The Life of the Pioneering Egyptologist and Orientalist
The Life of the Pioneering Egyptologist and OrientalistJason Thompson
Few Western scholars of the Middle East have exerted such profound influence as Edward William Lane. Lane’s Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), which has never gone out of print, remains as a highly authoritative study of Middle Eastern society. His annotated translation of the Arabian Nights (1839–41) retains a devoted readership. Lane’s recently recovered and published Description of Egypt (2000) shows that he was a pioneering Egyptologist as well as orientalist. The capstone of his career, the definitive Arabic-English Lexicon (1863–93), is an indispensable reference tool. Yet, despite his extraordinary influence, little was known about Lane and virtually nothing about how he did his work. Now, in the first full-length biography, Lane’s life and accomplishments are examined in full, including his crucial years of field work in Egypt, revealing the life of a great Victorian scholar and presenting a fascinating episode in east–west encounter, interaction, and representation....read more
15 May 2010
Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt, 1218–1250
Kurt J. Werthmuller
Using the life and writings of Cyril III Ibn Laqlaq, 75th patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, along with a variety of Christian and Muslim chroniclers, this study explores the identity and context of the Christian community of Egypt and its relations with the leadership of the Ayyubid dynasty in the early thirteenth century. Kurt Werthmuller introduces new scholarship that illuminates the varied relationships between medieval Christians of Egypt and their Muslim neighbors. Demonstrating that the Coptic community was neither passive nor static, the author discusses the active role played by the Copts in the formation and evolution of their own identity within the wider political and societal context of this period. In particular, he examines the boundaries between Copts and the wider Egyptian society in the Ayyubid period in three “in-between spaces”: patriarchal authority, religious conversion, and monasticism....read more
1 July 2010
8 color illus.
City of MemoryMichael Haag
In the decades before Nasser’s seizure of power and the Suez crisis, Alexandria was a magnet for the wealthy, the gifted, and the glamorous from around the world. The whole city looked seaward, its port one of the busiest in the Mediterranean, its spirit ecumenical, its life luxuriant and sensual. Alexandria was barely an Egyptian city, and the Egyptians who live there now inhabit the gently crumbling remains of a foreign world, whose palatial villas, Venetian apartments, art-nouveau cafes, Moorish hotels, and cinemas conceived in thirties deco, are haunted by a departed cast. “I lived a great, extravagant, and colorful life in wartime Alexandria,” recalled Lawrence Durrell, whose Alexandria Quartet is one of the greatest protraits of a city in modern literature. Michael Haag, who has lived in Alexandria, and has known Durrell and others who lived there during its cosmopolitan heyday, has retraced their footsteps to present an absorbing account of the places and the people of this most remarkable of cities. ‘’Michael Haag mixes memory and biography, politics and cultural studies in clear and seamless prose.’’—The New York Review of Books...read more
80 b/w illus.