[ilds] L shaped

william godshalk godshawl at email.uc.edu
Wed May 30 17:26:20 PDT 2007


Michael,

Thanks for the information. I of course have seen a picture of Burg 
el Arab before, but I did not do the requisite mathematics.

Bill

At 07:15 AM 5/30/2007, you wrote:
>Justine's Summer Palace at Burg el Arab is a real place -- or rather 
>Burg el Arab is a real place which has given its name to the several 
>houses built there in the 1920s and 1930s.
>
>Burg el Arab means Tower of the Arabs and refers to a tower built 
>probably in the Roman period (though some have argued Ptolemaic) in 
>the form of the Pharos but one-tenth its size.  It has been thought 
>to have been a lighthouse, like the Pharos in Alexandria, but there 
>is also opinion that it was built as a very large funerary 
>monument.  The tower stands on a limestone ridge running along the 
>coast west of Alexandria.  Durrell went swimming near here with Eve 
>and friends in 1944, a moment he describes in a letter to Miller in 
>May that year.  The photograph below shows the ancient tower.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>Inland from this ridge is a further limestone ridge on which Wilfred 
>Jennings Bramly built his home in the 1920s.  Bramly had been in 
>charge of the Western Desert Frontier Administration until 
>1922.  This was the 'crusader fort' Durrell described in his letter 
>-- not crusader and not abandoned either; Bramly lived there until 
>1956.  The house as it looks today is shown below; it has been taken 
>over by the Egyptian state and serves as presidential rest house 
>(hence the telecommunications tower); from here Anwar Sadat secretly 
>prepared for the 1973 war against Israel.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>Just beyond this second ridge lay a settlement, built by Bramly and 
>in his friends in the 1930s, in the form of houses arranged in a 
>circle like a miniature walled Tuscan town.  The place was given the 
>name Burg el Arab.  To my knowledge Durrell never came here, but his 
>friend Robin Fedden knew it well; he was often a guest at Dar el 
>Qadi, the house at Burg built by Jasper Brinton, the American who 
>was president of the Court of Appeal of the Mixed Courts, and so 
>Durrell would have had an account of this new Burg el Arab from 
>Fedden.  The photograph below shows Dar el Qadi in about 1937 after 
>building works were completed; in the foreground is a Bedouin tent.
>
>
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>I have stayed in the house above, but I do not recall an L-shaped 
>room, but I do not see why it should not have had one.  I have 
>somewhere a detailed description of Bramly's own house; possibly it 
>mentions such a room.  Then again the L-shaped room may have some 
>subtle cosmic meaning or literary association known to Durrell.
>
>:Michael
>
>
>
>
>On Wednesday, May 30, 2007, at 02:33  am, william godshalk wrote:
>
>>In 3.1 (p. 163), Justine's Summer Palace is an "L-shaped block of
>>buildings." I immediately thought of Conrad's famous L-shaped room.
>>But the connection is tenuous or perhaps nonexistent. In any case,
>>would an L-shaped compound be efficient in the desert? I would go for
>>an inner courtyard surrounding the water supply with the buildings
>>built around as shelter.
>>
>>Bill
>
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***************************************
W. L. Godshalk		*
Department of English         *
University of Cincinnati            Stellar disorder  *
Cincinnati OH 45221-0069      *
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