Egypt's Belle Epoque: Cairo and the Age of the Hedonists

Overview

Egypt's belle époque was a period of incredible extravagance during which the Khedive Ismail's Cairo became the mirror image, both architecturally and socially, of decadent Paris. The glamour and hedonism of the era reached its peak during the magnificent celebrations for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Kings and emperors, artists, writers and Europe's most sophisticated flocked to the dazzling new Cairo of sumptuous palaces and Parisian gardens, where Verdi's Aida premiered at the new opera house and ...

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Overview

Egypt's belle époque was a period of incredible extravagance during which the Khedive Ismail's Cairo became the mirror image, both architecturally and socially, of decadent Paris. The glamour and hedonism of the era reached its peak during the magnificent celebrations for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Kings and emperors, artists, writers and Europe's most sophisticated flocked to the dazzling new Cairo of sumptuous palaces and Parisian gardens, where Verdi's Aida premiered at the new opera house and glittering parties were held on the banks of the Nile. But the splendour was short-lived. Only a year after the Suez Canal opened, the Second Empire in France collapsed and the Khedive's excesses plunged Egypt into crippling debt. Ismail was eventually forced to abdicate, leaving Cairo to the British who occupied Egypt in all but name. This is a riveting account of an extraordinary moment in the history of both France and Egypt.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The remarkable story of how Cairo was transformed into a modern city."—The Middle East Book Review "A teeming, vivid portrait of the pomp, lasciviousness and blood-soaked cruelty of a great culture at the crossroads of history. It cries out to be made into a film." —Terence Blacker, Author"This riveting account of a now-vanished world brings to life the splendour and decadence of a period in Egypt's history which is too often forgotten. Written with wit and remarkable immediacy, it tells the tale of Cairo's transformation into the Paris of Africa under the auspices of the founder of modern Egypt, Khedive Ismail." —The Guardian

"An entertaining and enlightening account of high life in Cairo between 1869 and 1952."—South

"The stories are told with relish and style…"—Al Ahram Weekly

"This is an enthralling account of a period in Egypt's history now too often forgotten. Trevor Mostyn brings to life a glittering near century which opened with the Suez Canal and launched Cairo as one of the world's great cities."—Lisa Appignanesi, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London"Egypt's Belle Epoque has the immediacy of oral history. This narrative depicts with wit and elegance the grandeur and decadence of a not so distant past. Trevor Mostyn writes as if he was himself a witness to the extraordinary events."—Moris Farhi, author of Young Turk "Mostyn brings to life a city of near overwhelming opulence, a Middle Eastern mirror image of its Western 'twin-city' Paris." —Good Book Guide

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845112400
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/5/2006
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.01 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Trevor Mostyn has been a journalist, publisher and consultant in the Arab world, Iran and India. He visited Sarajevo as a war correspondent with Reporters sans Frontières in 1993, and wrote for the New Statesman on the revolution in Iran and the civil war in Lebanon. He was a Financial Times correspondent in Cairo and is Middle East correspondent for The Tablet. His book Censorship in Islamic Society was published in 2002 and he has just finished a romantic novel set in the Middle East. He is also deputy chair of English PEN's Writers in Prison Committee.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the New Edition

• Introduction

• Chibuks and Lice in Ismail's Harem

• Obsession for an Empress

• Napoleon's Hated 'Mission Civilizatrice'

• Muhammad Ali - a Brutal Age of Development

• A Cruel Princess

• Rulers of the New Renaissance

• Ismail - a Ruler Obsesses

• Paris's Belle Epoque and the Great Exhibition

• Ismail's Cairo - a Glitzy Age

• The Finest Opera House in the World

• The Palace of the Empress

• The Cousin of the Empress

• La Belle Eugénie

• The Opening of the Accursed Canal

• A Week of Hedonism

• The Fall of Eugénie

• The Fall of Ismail

• Mr Cook and the Hotel Age

• Cairo: the Englishman's Playground

• Cairo's Sweet Scented Odalisques

• The Age of the Great Hotels

• Cairo's Last Flame

• Setting Fire to Ismail's City

• Epilogue: Ismail's Cairo Today

• Notes

• Bibliography

• Index

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