Description of Egypt: Notes and Views in Egypt and Nubia
Edward William Lane
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The launching of this hitherto unpublished book by the great nineteenth-century British traveler Edward William Lane (1801-76), a name known to almost everyone in all the many fields of Middle East studies, is a major publishing event. Lane was the author of a number of highly influential works: An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), his translation of The Thousand and One Nights (1839-41), Selections from the Kur-an (1843), and the Arabic-English Lexicon (1863-93). Yet one of his greatest works was never published: after years of labor and despite an enthusiastic reception by the publishing firm of John Murray in 1831, publication of his first book, Description of Egypt, was delayed and eventually dropped, mainly for financial reasons. The manuscript was sold to the British Library by Lane's widow in 1891, and has only now been salvaged for publication by Dr. Jason Thompson, nearly 170 years after its completion.
This enormously important book, which takes the form of a journey through Egypt from north to south, with descriptions of all the ancient monuments and contemporary life that Lane explored along the way, will be of immense interest to both ancient and modern historians of Egypt, and will become an essential companion to his Manners and Customs.
''Jason Thompson's exact and dedicated edition deserves much praise.''-Astene Newsletter, June 2002.
''Thompson, a historian at AUC, has done signal service in taking a manuscript dating from 1831 and preparing it for publication so many years later; AUC Press deserves praise for making so major a work available, and at so reasonable a price.''-Daniel Pipes, Middle East Quarterly, June 2001.
''In all, the appearance of this major work of scholarship at this late date is a major boon to the study of Egypt's history between the pharaohs and 18280.''-Daniel Pipes, Middle East Quarterly, June 2001.
repair thither without leave of absence for a whole day, which is not easily obtained. A number of French officers have been constantly employed in training the troops at El-Kha'n'keh; but none of them have ever held any rank or command in the army, excepting a few who have embraced the Mohham'madan faith. For the space of about a year and a half, General Boyer superintended the course of military discipline, and received, for his services, a handsome salary. Mohham'mad 'Al'ee was very anxious
took up my abode for a fortnight; and never did I spend a more happy time; though provided with fewer articles of luxury than I might easily and reasonably have procured; but I had fancied, though perhaps unjustly, that the more comforts I had, the less intent should I be upon my work. My appearance, at that time, corresponded with my mode of living; for, on account of my being exposed to considerable changes of atmospheric temperature in passing in and out of the Great Pyramid, I assumed the
Mohham'mad Ba'sha,1 fearing another invasion of Egypt by the French, deemed it necessary to strengthen this place: for the wall abovementioned defends the town on the land-side, and surrounds the cisterns from which the inhabitants derive their supply of fresh water. The wall has four gates: that by which the fortified enclosure is entered from the modern town is called Ba'b el-Bahhr, or the Sea-Gate. A scene of more complete desolation than that which is beheld on entering the enclosure can
called from a stone, bearing the impression of the Prophet's foot, preserved in a small mosque, which rises, with a picturesque effect, from the verge of the river. El-Gee'zeh *j±*J\ , which is opposite to Musr 'Atee'ckah, is a small, poor town, surrounded, excepting on the side towards the river, by a mean wall, which would scarcely avail to defend it from a party of Bed'awees. It has been supposed to occupy a part of the site of Memphis; but this conjecture is now known to be erroneous. A few
preparing to return to England. At that moment a fierce outbreak of bubonic plague erupted in Alexandria and Cairo, causing him to flee to Thebes, where he spent an additional five months living in a tomb-house on the hill of Sheikh Abd al-Qurna. Lane's time at Thebes is difficult to account for in detail. Presumably he completed the fair copy of Modern Egyptians, if he had not done so already, but that would not have taken the entire five months. Later, he told John Murray III that he "carefully