Monday, September 17, 2012
Today is not only the first day of Rosh Hashona, it is also Edward William Lane's birthday.
Longtime readers know that Lane's birthday is celebrated annually on this blog. The man born in Hereford, England, on September 17, 1801, gave us the richest anthropological description of Egypt in the age of Muhammad Ali (The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians) and the hefty eight-volume Lane's Lexicon, the fullest Arabic-English dictionary of the classical language, not to mention a version of the Arabian Nights, with extensive cultural notes. Lane was perhaps the first truly great English Arabist, and founded a dynasty that included his sister Sophia Lane Poole, who wrote about women in Egypt, and his nephew, Sophia's son Stanley Lane-Poole (who acquired a hyphen somewhere), who wrote widely on Arab and Islamic history.
I posted on his birthday in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and on the Lane dynasty here,
His contributions to anthropology/sociology (Manners and Customs), literature (1,001 Nights), and linguistics (the Arabic-English Lexicon) would make his birthday worth noting, even if, 146 years after Lane, I hadn't come along to share the birthday.
For much more detail, please see the earlier posts. And let's dance with the Ghawazi (or Ghawazee as Lane spelled it), whose sensual public dances, said to be one origin of the belly dance, so shocked Lane's Victorian (and pre-Victorian) sensibilities, that he wrote (at great length) about them, and provided illustrations. Happy birthday, Ed: