From Cairo to Baghdad: British Travellers in Arabia
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In this elegantly crafted book, James Canton examines over one hundred primary sources, from forgotten gems to the classics of T E Lawrence, Thesiger and Philby. He analyses the relationship between Empire and author, showing how the one influenced the other, leading to a vast array of texts that might never have been produced had it not been for the ambitions of Imperial Britain. This work makes for essential reading for all of those interested in the literature of Empire, travel writing and the Middle East.
Beirut, 72, 207 Izzard, Ralph, and Molly Izzard Izzards in, 198-9 Smelling the Breeze, 198-9 Rayak railway station, 83-4 Sidon, 199 Jebb, Louisa, and Victoria Buxton Thubron in, 198-201 By Desert Ways to Baghdad, 105-9 Leeder, S. H. Jerusalem, 207-8 Veiled Mysteries of Egypt and the Religion of Islam, 24 Kabbani, Rana Lewis, Norman, 93 on Thesiger, 55 and British authorities, 179 Khalil Sand and Sea in Arabia, 179 see Doughty, Charles Montagu on tribal warfare, 94-5
Lawrence of Arabia in the years since the last imperial war in Arabia has been one akin to deification, his experiences as a soldier utterly removed from those of current British servicemen. The nature of war has radically changed. Images of open desert raids belong to a bygone era. In Beirut, Maugham runs into the tensions that exist between the English and the French in Arabia. He meets a ‘tipsy French lieutenant’ (38) who states the French case: ‘You have only just come here. You
movement; but it must not be supposed that orientals are never in a hurry; on all occasions of departure or arrival, 84 FROM CAIRO TO BAGHDAD confusion, violence and strife reign supreme; fatalism is forgotten, and it is every man’s duty to heave, to punch, to kick, to curse and swear, until the train, steamer or caravan has started.1 It is November 1902. Mark Sykes details a comedic vision of the train at Rayak railway station, Lebanon. He is a rich, young Englishman, fresh from
him, Amara is circumcised, as is Sabaiti. The two stayed with Thesiger all the time that Thesiger visited Iraq. Rather than receiving regular payment, the relationship Thesiger held with his crew or gang was rather more flexible. Each was under the financial patronage of Thesiger: ‘I clothed them and in fact gave them more money than they could have hoped to earn. Later, when they married, I helped them with their bride price’ (138). Their duties included a nightly ‘thorough massage’ of
longer maintain a position as dictated by the missionary and so opts for friendship with the ‘eastern folk’ even though such an attitude threatens his ruination as an Englishman. In person, Marmaduke Pickthall went much further in his conversion. For the final twenty years of his life, he was a leading light of the British Muslim community. Yet his religious convictions were only part of his identity. His political position was far more intricate than merely extolling blanket approval of