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Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism

An Archive

Hala Halim

Publication Year: 2013

Interrogating how Alexandria became enshrined as the exemplary cosmopolitan space in the Middle East, this book mounts a radical critique of Eurocentric conceptions of cosmopolitanism. The dominant account of Alexandrian cosmopolitanism elevates things European in the city's culture and simultaneously places things Egyptian under the sign of decline. The book goes beyond this civilization/barbarism binary to trace other modes of intercultural solidarity. Halim presents a comparative study of literary representations, addressing poetry, fiction, guidebooks, and operettas, among other genres. She reappraises three writers--C. P. Cavafy, E. M. Forster, and Lawrence Durrell-- whom she maintains have been cast as the canon of Alexandria. Attending to issues of genre, gender, ethnicity, and class, she refutes the view that these writers' representations are largely congruent and uncovers a variety of positions ranging from Orientalist to anti-colonial. The book then turns to Bernard de Zogheb, a virtually unpublished writer, and elicits his Camp parodies of elite Levantine mores in operettas one of which centers on Cavafy. Drawing on Arabic critical and historical texts, as well as contemporary writers' and filmmakers' engagement with the canonical triumvirate, Halim orchestrates an Egyptian dialogue with the European representations.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. 7-8


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

...from Alexandria, where it all began, this project has taken me to several cities where I incurred many a pleasurable debt. First and foremost, I wish to express my gratitude to Vincent P. Pecora for his rigorous guidance and generous spirit as my graduate advisor. His faith in my work continues to inspirit me long after leaving the University...


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pp. xvii-xx

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pp. 1-55

...Iskindiriyya mariyya; Alexandrea ad Aegyptum; cosmopolitan Alexandria. Far more than the Egyptian folkloric catchphrase and the Roman epithet, it is the link between this city and cosmopolitanism that has acquired the ineluctability of the perennially self-evident. This book asks the questions, Was Alexandria ever really cosmopolitan?...

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Chapter One Of Greeks, Barbarians, Philhellenes, Hellenophones, and Egyptiotes C.P. Cavafy

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pp. 56-119

...In the second volume of his study L’Hellénisme et l’Égypte moderne, subtitled Contribution de l’Hellénisme au développement de l’Égypte moderne (1930), Athanase G. Politis, the historian of the Greek community in Egypt, concludes with the chapter “La vie intellectuelle et artistique des Hellènes en Égypte,” a good portion of which is devoted ...

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Chapter Two Of Hellenized Cosmopolitanism and Colonial Subalternity E. M. Forster

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pp. 120-178

...When E. M. Forster arrived in Alexandria toward the end of 1915 to work for the Red Cross as a “searcher” of news of soldiers wounded or missing in action, he was suffering from writer’s block. An established novelist, he was grappling with an unfinished novel about India, a country he would be using as a “standard” against which his Egyptian...

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Chapter Three Uncanny Hybridity into Neocolonialism Lawrence Durrell

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pp. 179-225

...In 1961, a year after the last volume of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet was published, Frantz Fanon presciently diagnosed in The Wretched of the Earth the predicament of national consciousness in decolonized countries, decrying “the apathy of the national bourgeoisie, its mediocrity, and its deeply cosmopolitan nature.” The obstacles...

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Chapter Four “Polypolis” and Levantine Camp Bernard de Zogheb

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pp. 226-270

...Spending a few days in Rome in 1957 as part of his annual trip to Europe, Bernard de Zogheb noted in his diary: “I went to mass at the Greek Catholic church round the corner: Saint Athanase. I wondered how many people in the congregation were Levantines.” The reference to Levantines, though of a piece with some of the...

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pp. 271-312

...Foundation myths, for all the skepticism they arouse, not uncommonly return to haunt. The myth of an Alexander who founded Alexandria to become a cosmopolis returned with some force at the turn of the millennium. The occasion was the proposal of an equestrian statue of the Macedonian, to occupy a main intersection at one end of the oldest...


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pp. 313-403

Works Cited

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pp. 405-446


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pp. 447-460

E-ISBN-13: 9780823251773
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823251766
Print-ISBN-10: 0823251764

Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 10 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth