A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's Edward William Lane's 212th Birthday

Edward William Lane
Once again, as I do every year, I pause to note that it is Edward William Lane's birthday. He would be 212 today. I've posted about Lane many times, especially on his birthday which I happen by a stroke of luck to share. His huge Arabic-English Lexicon remains a major tool; his translation of the Arabian Nights may have been superseded but still has valuable notes; but Lane's greatest work remains The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, the classic description of life in Cairo in the reign of Muhammad ‘Ali. A great work of cultural anthropology before the field existed, it still repays reading.

Manners and Customs is dated, but that's part of the point: it preserves a glimpse of everyday life in Egypt at a time when Egyptian chroniclers were mostly preoccupied with the doings of the rulers. If you know Egypt today you should read it. Besides, you have no excuse not to, since you can find it online free from Google Books.

A happy 212th to Lane.

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