[ilds] The Lost Capital of Memory

Marc Piel marcpiel at interdesign.fr
Fri Aug 14 01:26:19 PDT 2009


I asked an Egyptian to send me some photos of the 
people on the beaches: these apparently tell 
another story!!! He is just outside Alexandria; 
nobody swimms in Alex's beaches any more because 
of the polution! My friend went out and took these 
photos for me.
Marc

Bruce Redwine a écrit :
> Charles,
> 
> I am no authority on Alexandria, just a casual observer.  I was there 
> for only five days, but the trends were disturbing.  The old 
> cosmopolitan culture of Greeks, Jews, Copts, Christians, Arabs, 
> Armenians, et al. is disappearing.  The city is no longer Durrell's city 
> of diversity and tolerance.  Read Dr. Mohamed Awad's article in /Deus 
> Loci,/ "The House Revisited, the City Remembered" (vol. 7, 1999-2000), 
> for a local assessment of the cultural situation.  Also read and study 
> Michael Haag's book of old photographs, V/intage Alexandria: 
>  Photographs of the City 1860-1960 /(Cairo 2008).  That city is quickly 
> vanishing.  More distressingly, some try to wipe out that memory and say 
> it never really existed or was never representative of "real" 
> Alexandria.  /VA/ was recently reviewed in /TLS /(26 June 2009), and the 
> reviewer, Maria Golia, an American and longtime resident of Cairo, 
> assumes the Islamist viewpoint and claims that Durrell's "capital of 
> Memory" was never more than a society enjoyed by the families of "the 
> very, very few."  Golia presumably means rich, decadent families of 
> foreign lineage.  She sounds a good deal like Mr. Sobhi Saleh, a Muslim 
> Brotherhood MP, as quoted in Daniel Williams's article.  Haag responded 
> to Golia's review and wrote, "They were not so few, and their families 
> had been in Egypt for generations, in some cases for centuries.  They 
> had been welcomed in Egypt for their expertise, energy and capital; they 
> played a major role in developing the country — they played an authentic 
> part in Egyptian history" /(TLS,/ 2 July 2009).  Seems to me, that in 
> Egypt today there is a concerted effort to deny the history that Haag 
> refers to, the same one Durrell cherished.
> 
> 
> Bruce
> 
> 
> On Aug 13, 2009, at 12:17 PM, Charles Sligh wrote:
> 
>> Thanks for the Alexandrian report, Bruce.
>>
>>>        *Alexandria* needs *“stable” community values*, he insisted.
>>>        *Sensuality*, if it means *sexuality*, is not part of *the
>>>        social equation*. Even *the library* — with its *museum* that
>>>        includes *pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic relics
>>>        *— is misguided, Mr. Saleh said.
>>>
>>>        “There, *Islam* is just one topic among many. We don’t like
>>>        those *naked Greek statues*. Anyway, *that’s over*. Islam
>>>        should have a special status at the library,” he said. “This
>>>        is *a Muslim city* in *a Muslim country*; that is our
>>>        *identity*.”
>>>
>>
>> Where to begin discussion of those statements?
>>
>> I have *deformed* the report in order to indicate what strikes me.
>>
>> I fancy that I tend to imagine history in terms of 1.000 to 2,000 year
>> epochs.
>>
>> The City comes; the City goes--willy, nilly--Alexandria, she is always
>> "leaving" us.
>>
>> The Greeks and the Jews and the Romans and the Christians and the Turks
>> and the French and the English came and went.
>>
>> The great poets of secular history, such as Cavafy, Kipling, and
>> Durrell, teach me that Islam once came and someday, inevitably, will go.
>>
>> What new sect or cultus or tribe will follow?  Will anyone still be
>> there to notice or to remember?
>>
>> But I would rather have some actual present-day Alexandrians from the
>> listserv commenting.
>>
>> Charles
>>
>> -- 
>> ********************************************
>> Charles L. Sligh
>> Assistant Professor
>> Department of English
>> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
>> charles-sligh at utc.edu <mailto:charles-sligh at utc.edu>
>> ********************************************
>>
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