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Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians Paperback – June 15, 2005
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This book is written in 1830s and marks the Egypt of that time. People who aim at reading about "Egypt" should know that reading a book about an early 19th century Egypt, is not going to inform them about today's Egypt.
This said, the book is a remarkable anthropological work that records in amazing details the everyday life of Egyptians in the 1830s. This of course is a time of change for Egypt. Mohammad Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt is already sending young Egyptians to study European sciences to come back to "Modernize" Egypt according to western standards. Within 30 years of the publication of this book, Egypt was transformed into a totally westernized island in the Middle East (which came with the horrible consequences of the British colonization of Egypt in the 1880s).
This book observes Egypt before the change.
The book is filled with drawings by Lane in which he records with an amazing eye for detail, every little aspect of the Egyptian way of life. The women's attire and men as well; the different classes, the traditions, celebrations, religions, different Sufi sects, political views, and music. I myself being a native speaker of Arabic, am very amazed by Lane's ability to not only learn Arabic but to be able to record with so careful an ear for detail, the different accents of Egyptian and to also write down the lyrics of many of their songs.
This book is often cited by Orientalists and is looked at carefully by Edward Said in his 1978 book Orientalism.
To read this book, one has to also read Edward Said's Orientalism afterwards to look at how Edward W. Lane is like many other Orientalists, relying on stereotypes to assert stereotypes.
I repeat again, that this book is not for anyone. It is only to be enjoyed by specialists who wish to know more about early 19th Century Egypt, and those who study the history of Orientalism.
Note that this book is in the public domain, so you can legally find it for free online. I bought it for about $5 on Amazon, though...well worth the price for a hard copy.