[ilds] Meaningful Arab Characters

Merrianne Timko timlot at comcast.net
Sat Feb 27 18:42:52 PST 2016



Some random thoughts … 


640 is a debatable date. 641 is a more commonly accepted date, in view of the founding of Fustat in 641 and its significance for the Arab conquest of Egypt and 'Amr.

Fustat was an incredibly cosmopolitan city, the subject of a major exhibition in 2015 at the University of Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/museum-exhibits/special-exhibits/cosmopolitan-city-old-cairo


As for information regarding “orientalism” on the list serv, I would like to see some interesting current thoughts on the subject. 


As for the “lost” Egyptian language, when I see words like ebony and adobe, ancient Egyptian has morphed into our modern languages.


Also, when Durrell returned to Egypt in 1977, he would have seen Nubians, especially men, displaced by the construction of the Aswan Dam. Durrell would no doubt have encountered the Nubians working at the hotels. Richard Fernea of the University of Texas documented this vanishing culture, and Hamza el Din was the musician that captured the Nubian culture’s spirit.


I would be very cautious when analyzing Arab, Islamic, Coptic, etc. characters based on today’s perception of race and religion. 


Merrianne Timko


From: ILDS [mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Bruce Redwine
Sent: Saturday, February 27, 2016 5:57 PM
To: Sumantra Nag <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at gmail.com>
Subject: [ilds] Meaningful Arab Characters


Another interesting question which raises the question of Postcolonialism, specifically Edward Said’s “Orientalism.”  Justine is full of interesting Egyptians, namely, the Copts, the Hosnanis.  As we all know, Durrell’s Hosnanis are the “original Egyptians.”  Although Arabic speaking, they are not Arabs.  In fact, most Egyptians are genetically not Arabs, although they call themselves such, as in Gamal Abdel Nasser’s short-lived “United Arab Republic.”  The Egyptians lost their language about 300 years after the Arab conquest in 640.  The Copts preserve a descendant of ancient Egyptian in the liturgy of the Coptic Church.  So what does it mean to be a “meaningful Arab character?”  Someone like Memlik Pasha?  And even he is half Nubian, an ethnic group which the Egyptians themselves consider alien to their native “Arab culture.”  It’s probably more accurate to say there aren’t any “meaningful Islamic characters” in the Quartet.








On Feb 27, 2016, at 2:26 PM, mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org <mailto:mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org>  wrote:


In his "Lawrence Durrell in the OED" (sent as a link below) J Gifford states that "Justine" is "without any meaningful Arab characters". Eh? Sure proof that one can read a very different book to the next guy.



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