[ilds] The Lost Capital of Memory

Marc Piel marcpiel at interdesign.fr
Fri Aug 14 01:31:00 PDT 2009

Hello Galal,
Some of the people on the Durrel list are contunually negative.
I think they do it on purpose; it is their "power".
BR Marc

Here is one I received this morning:

"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."

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