By Molly Youngkin
Focusing on British ladies writers' wisdom of historical Egypt, Youngkin exhibits the typically constrained yet pervasive representations of old Egyptian ladies of their written and visible works. photographs of Hathor, Isis, and Cleopatra prompted how British writers reminiscent of George Eliot and Edith Cooper got here to symbolize lady emancipation.
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Additional info for British Women Writers and the Reception of Ancient Egypt, 1840–1910: Imperialist Representations of Egyptian Women
To me . . there seem but three lines of future open to her when we depart [:] . . slave-mistress of the Turk [,] . . new liaison with some new Western lover, in all probability France [,] . . [or an] arrangement with the European Powers [,] . . political polyandria of the most odious and demoralizing kind. (127) 10 ● British Women Writers and Ancient Egypt This portrayal of Egypt as Cleopatra, who is always in alliance with some European power, often as its “slave-mistress,” draws heavily on the stereotypical view of Cleopatra as Eastern seductress, who can only bring trouble to England.
With a new leader, Khedive Tewfiq, in power and Evelyn Baring (Lord Cromer) in Egypt on behalf of Britain, Egyptian nationalists were unhappy, and the Egyptian cabinet declared war on Britain in 1882 (250–51). The British promptly defeated nationalist troops and began what turned out to be a 70-year occupation (253). Although the “Protectorate” would be lifted in 1922, Britain retained many of its powers until 1936, when the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty finally removed most of the “Reserved Points” that had ensured the British government’s power in Egypt (280).
Still, as I have shown in the introduction to this book, “color” remained an important factor in how British women responded to ancient cultures. As I discuss in the next section, British women writers often perceived Greek culture as “purely” white and Egyptian culture as composed of “mixed” races, another factor that encouraged British women writers to represent Greek goddesses rather than Egyptian ones when writing about their own emancipation. Other British Writers’ Representations of Ancient Egyptian Women The visions for emancipation produced by Nightingale, Eliot, Field, and Glyn should be seen in the context of other nineteenth-century British literary writers, both women and men, who incorporated ancient Egyptian imagery into their work.
British Women Writers and the Reception of Ancient Egypt, 1840–1910: Imperialist Representations of Egyptian Women by Molly Youngkin