Vintage Alexandria: Photographs of the City, 1860-1960

Overview

Using vintage photographs from the second half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth, many of them from private family albums, this book brings to life the world of that vanished Alexandria, a vibrant, stylish, and cosmopolitan city, the largest port in the Mediterranean, that was the prosperous gateway between Egypt and the world. Seen here in the setting of their homes and gardens, and on the city’s streets and beaches, the faces of those forgotten Alexandrians come to life: the Greeks, ...
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Overview

Using vintage photographs from the second half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth, many of them from private family albums, this book brings to life the world of that vanished Alexandria, a vibrant, stylish, and cosmopolitan city, the largest port in the Mediterranean, that was the prosperous gateway between Egypt and the world. Seen here in the setting of their homes and gardens, and on the city’s streets and beaches, the faces of those forgotten Alexandrians come to life: the Greeks, Italians, Jews, and all those others from around the Mediterranean whose energy and expertise helped modernize and develop Egypt, and who planted their family roots in the city. This was the luxuriant and evocative city celebrated by Constantine Cavafy, E.M. Forster, and Lawrence Durrell, and they too are included in these pages along with photographs of scenes and people that were familiar to them. Vintage Alexandria traces the development and growth of the city, follows its story through the dramatic events of two world wars, and above all provides a background to the city’s place in twentieth-century cultural history, through the eyes of Alexandria’s cosmopolitan citizens themselves.

Those citizens and others who passed through the city and appear in these pages included Antony Benaki (the Greek cotton trader whose collection formed the basis of the famous Benaki Museum in Athens), Robert Koch (who isolated the cholera virus and developed a vaccine in an Alexandria laboratory), the Greek children’s writer Penelope Delta, Claude Vincendon (the third wife of Lawrence Durrell), King Victor Emanuel III of Italy, Eve Cohen (the second wife of Lawrence Durrell, and the model for “Justine”), Safinaz Zulfikar (later married to King Farouk as Queen Farida), Rudolph Hess (Hitler’s deputy, who attended school in Alexandria), Jean de Menasce (the “best translator” of T.S. Eliot), Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), the Palestinian intellectual Edward Said, the Egyptian film director Youssef Chahine, the Egyptian and international film star Omar Sharif, King Hussein of Jordan, Rhona Haszard (the post-impressionist painter), Ahmed Hassanein Pasha (the Egyptian explorer and diplomat), and Noel Coward (the English writer and wit, who sang at the Fleet Club in Alexandria and was mobbed by sailors).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789774161926
  • Publisher: American University in Cairo Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

MICHAEL HAAG is a writer and photographer based in London. He has photographed and written Alexandria Illustrated(AUC Press 2004) and Cairo Illustrated, and he is the author of Alexandria: City of Memory.

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  • Posted December 21, 2008

    romance and history of the famed ancient city

    Vintage photos arranged chronologically impart the "vibrant, stylish, and cosmopolitan city" similar to Athens, Naples, and Marseilles for its importance in Mediterranean commerce and culture and its mixed population. About half of the more than 150 photographs show groups of Italians, Greeks, Jews and other immigrants who along with native Egyptians pursued business opportunities and a lively social life in the Egyptian city founded in ancient times. The settings of the groups as well as the many scenes from different parts of the city display the city's architecture, public areas, and rooms inside buildings. Much of the city is modernized by the time of the photographs of this volume. Palm trees, mosques, Islamic features even on new buildings, and the clothing of individuals mark the city as North African and Middle Eastern.<BR/><BR/>Alexandria was renowned from ancient times. Its famed library and Pharos lighthouse in its Eastern Harbor have become permanent symbols of the achievements of the ancient world. Alexander the Great gave his name to the city after laying out a new design for it. Alexandria's mystique was enhanced further by the writings of Constantine Cavafy, E. M. Forster, and Lawrence Durrell.<BR/><BR/>As three maps show, Alexandria was prominent literally as well as by legend and repute. Three maps show how the part of the city reaching into the sea splits to form two harbors--Western and Eastern. Names of sites and areas in the maps exemplify Alexandria's millennial history and its modern-day cosmopolitan population and its interests.

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