The Essence of Alexandria

Khaled Fahmy

In 1977 Lawrence Durrell revisited Alexandria to participate in a BBC film about the city. Titled Spirit of Place, the film, we are told, shows “palatial villas overgrown with bougainvillaea… abandoned, confiscated or left to rot by their impoverished owners, their rusting gates opening into wild and unkempt gardens where marble fountains and crumbling statuary testified to a glory since departed.” Attempting to guide the crew through the city he is supposed to have known well, Durrell found himself filled with anxiety, and “feared that Nasser’s puritanical socialist revolution had destroyed the city”:

The city seemed to him listless and spiritless, its harbor a mere cemetery. Its famous cafés, Pastroudis and Boudrot, no longer twinkling with music and lights… All about him lay ‘Iskandariya’, the uncomprehended Arabic of its inhabitants translating only into emptiness.1

These feelings of bewilderment, anxiety and sadness at the fate of “the Alexandria we have lost”2 that Durrell felt during this visit are common tropes characteristic of much of the literature about modern Alexandria. Idealizing the cosmopolitanism that is seen to have infused life in the city in its modern golden age3 (c. 1860–1960), novelists, poets, literary critics, travel writers and others typically turn with disgust and repugnance to the natives who are implicitly (and at times, explicitly) blamed for the city’s fall, and who are referred to in what is supposed to be a pejorative term: “Arabs”.

This essay (which is part of a larger study) deals with the location of “Arabs” in the discourse of cosmopolitan Alexandria, “the paradigm case of Middle Eastern cosmopolitanism”.4 It identifies a number of curious moments of silence that all but erase the very long and vibrant presence of these “Arabs” in the city and attempts to analyze the manner in which “Arabs” have been left out and have always been associated with what is considered to be the city’s loss. In addition, this essay explores themes of disgust, filth and squalor, commonly associated with the “Arabs”, and takes its cue from the olfactory sense. Given its inherently ambivalent nature, smell offers a suitable guide to identify both the ephemeral, spiritual nature of “cosmopolitan Alexandria”, and, at the same time, the filthy, squalid material of its antithesis, i.e. Arab Alexandria. 

Ancient Alexandria: A Fallen City

In the Western imagination Alexandria has always been associated with loss. In Plutarch’s Life of Antony, the great Roman soldier is seen in the city awaiting the final confrontation with Augustus and ordering his soldiers to pour wine and to feast him generously when he realizes that his luck has run out and that defeat is inevitable. It was during that night of clear insight that strange and harmonious music was heard coming forth from Alexandria, music which “those who sought [its] meaning… were of the opinion that the god to whom Antony always most likened and attached himself was now deserting him.”5 In the great poet Constantine Cavafy’s imagination, the tragedy of Antony is transformed into a universal human tragedy, and in the process Alexandria becomes both the goddess that inspires this only too-human self-realization and at the same time the object of the ensuing inevitable loss of divine life. Two other famous literary figures constitute what has been called the “Alexandria Archive”,6 namely, E.M. Forster and Lawrence Durrell, who have also dwelt on this link between Alexandria and loss. Unlike Cavafy, however, they do not consider Alexandria’s loss to be evocative of a general human tragedy; rather, this loss refers to a decline from the previous splendor that the city used to enjoy in its classical golden age, and it is a decline for which the “Arabs” are mostly to blame. Durrell saw the Arab invasion of the seventh century CE only as a signal of the city’s doom. In the introduction of the 1986 edition of Forster’s Alexandria: A History and a Guide, he wrote that “[w]ith the arrival of Amr and his Arab cavalry the famous resplendent city took a nosedive into oblivion; the sand dunes encroached and covered it.”7 Likewise, Forster, in his famous Guide, remarks that the invading Arab armies in 642 CE could not comprehend the significance of the city they had captured and that their onslaught could only lead to its ruin. Forster adds that the Arab leader, Amr ibn al-‘Ās, wrote to his superiors in Arabia, remarking with indifference that he had “taken a city of which I can say that it contains        4 000 palaces, 4 000 baths, 400 theaters, 1 200 greengrocers and 40 000 Jews.”8 Forster comments that in spite of having “no intention of destroying her”, the Arabs failed to comprehend that “there was no other [city] like it in the world,” and ended up destroying it “as a child might a watch.”9

Typical of the western understanding of Alexandrian history, Forster’s Guide devotes only five pages to the thousand-year-long “Arab Period”, a period he designates as “a thousand years of silence”.10

Modern Rebirth and Loss Again

These “thousand years of silence” are said to have finally ended at the beginning of the nineteenth century with the auspicious appearance of the reform-minded governor Mehmed Ali Pasha (a.k.a. Mohamed ‘Alī Bāshā), and modern Alexandria is seen to be the “errant child of [his] hopes.”11 Stressing the fact that he was born in “Cavalla on the Macedonian coast”12 and highlighting how he was tolerant to Jews, and to Greeks, Italians and other Europeans,13 Mehmed Ali is usually seen as the founder not only of modern Egypt,14 but also, like his Macedonian “predecessor”, as having contributed in a unique manner to Alexandria’s history. The “rebirth” of modern Alexandria and its growth from a town that numbered around 8 000 dwellers at the beginning of the century to a large city of some 100 000 inhabitants at the time of Mehmed Ali’s death in 1849 is commonly described as the result of a number of factors, chief among them was the government policy of tolerance to Europeans, a policy that the European community acknowledged in 1860 when they unveiled an equestrian statue of Mohamed Ali in a square named after him.

An economy geared to European markets; a “founder” famous for his tolerance to Europeans and who is anecdotally, but significantly, described to be of Macedonian origins; and a plethora of European communities who were vibrant, entrepreneurial and mutually accepting of each other and of the open world: these are the factors commonly stressed to explain what is seen as the remarkable, if brief, case of modern Alexandrian cosmopolitanism. As in mediaeval Alexandria, conspicuously absent from the history of the modern city are the majority of its inhabitants, the “Arabs”. When these “Arabs” are finally introduced into the city’s narrative it is either to highlight how much they did not really belong there, or to stress how the responsibility of the city’s final demise falls squarely on their shoulders, and theirs alone.

The first grand appearance of “Arabs” in modern Alexandria is usually taken to be that of Nasser when on a fateful hot July evening in 1956 he stood in Mīdān al-Manshiyya (formerly Place Muhammad Ali) announcing the nationalization of the International Maritime Company of the Suez Canal to the cheerful masses of Egyptians in front of him and to a stunned audience abroad. This famous coup de théâtre triggered what is known in the West as the “Suez Crisis” and in Egypt as the “Tripartite Aggression” when Britain, France and Israel conspiratorially attacked Egypt in October of that year. In retaliation, orders were issued to Jews and to British and French nationals to be expelled from Egypt, their property either confiscated or put under sequestration. While it is acknowledged that Nasser, by this and other gestures and policies that “gave Egypt back to the Egyptians”15 was indirectly reacting to a colonial situation represented by, among other things, the Alexandrian “modern palaces—homes for the established members of the foreign colony that brought much exploitation and snobbery, some progress, and a strong cosmopolitan flavor to Alexandria”,16 many of those who wrote about the end of cosmopolitan Alexandria blame Nasser and his “puritanical socialist revolution [for] destroy[ing] the city… the uncomprehended Arabic of its inhabitants translating only into emptiness.”17

While the fame of Alexandrian cosmopolitanism owes a lot to the three literary “Alexandrian” figures of Cavafy, Forster and Durrell, the themes of the fallen city, of loss and of ensuing exile, as demonstrated by Robert Mabro, have been perpetuated by numerous semi-autobiographical novels which “have been coming out of the press at an alarming rate.” These “memoirs”written by people who were forced to leave the city in the late 1950s and early 1960s, reflect an urge by “those former Alexandrians… to take advantage of the mystique created by Durrell and Constantine Cavafy… Alexandria sells. The Exodus sells”, Mabro adds cynically. In spite of the questionable nature of some of them (as shown below), these “memoirs” about lost childhood and adolescence have nevertheless been instrumental in perpetuating the Western image of Alexandria as the city of loss.

Alexandria, the Capital of Memory

Given this association between Alexandria and loss, it is no wonder that much of the discourse of the city deals with history, memory and nostalgia. Forster, who found himself trapped in Alexandria during a world war, drew upon Alexandria’s ancient history in writing his major Alexandrian work, Alexandria: A History and a Guide, and as he admits the city’s present and topography gain significance only if read against its glorious past: “The ‘sights’ of Alexandria are in themselves not interesting, but they fascinate when we approach them through the past, and this is what I have tried to do by the double arrangement of History and Guide.”18 Likewise, Cavafy, the “old poet of the city”, had used the city’s history as part of his creative effort to cast a “detailed and coherent image of the human predicament that would be less idiosyncratic and nationalistic […] an image more universal than those his Alexandrian preoccupation occasioned.”19 Cavafy’s ability to sift through the city’s ancient history for moments that could speak to the modern sensibilities of loss and exile, in addition to attesting to the poet’s creativity, has further entrenched the image of Alexandria as a lost city.

The Essence of Alexandria

Describing the essence of the city that he was losing, Durrell curiously takes this essence literally. When he anticipates the impending loss he alludes to the smell of the city: “I began to walk slowly, deeply bemused, and to describe to myself in words this whole quarter of Alexandria for I knew that soon it would be forgotten and revisited by those whose memories had been appropriated by the fevered city, clinging to the minds of old men like traces of perfume upon a sleeve: Alexandria: the Capital of Memory.”20

Forster, too, made a similar remark connecting memory with an odor clinging to a piece of garment. In a letter to a friend of his in England soon after his arrival in Egypt and after his initial disappointment for not finding the landscape “oriental” enough he wrote that “[t]o one who has been to India, it is almost irritating—the ‘real East’ seems always vanishing ‘round the corner, fluttering the hem of a garment on the phantom of a smell.”21

Commenting on this association between smell and memories of the lost Alexandria, Haag remarks:

Cavafy, Forster and Durrell all knew that perfume. [Quoting Durrell, he adds], ‘I inhaled the warm summer perfume of her dress and skin—a perfume which was called, I don’t know why, Jamais de la vie’—the phrase means ‘never’. Haunted by failure and haunted by glory, for a while there was a resonance between the modern cosmopolitan city and the one Alexander founded long ago on this African shore.22

“Une Odeur d’Arabe”

Proust, Alexandria, smell and memory come together in the works of André Aciman, a Proust scholar and author of one of those memoirs about Alexandria that have appeared in recent years, and one which received much critical praise.

In an article that appeared in the New Yorker Aciman describes his first encounter with Proust, an encounter which took place in Paris, but which was connected to his memories of Alexandria. Referring to a Livre de Poche edition of Swann’s Way, he describes how he had bought it with his father, when he was fifteen, one summer evening in Paris.

We were taking a long walk, and as we passed a small restaurant I told him that the overpowering smell of refried food reminded me of the tanneries along the coast road outside Alexandria, in Egypt, where we had once lived. He said he hadn’t thought of it that way, but, yes, I was right, the restaurant did smell like tanneries. And as we began working our way back through strands of shared memories—the tanneries, the beaches, the ruined Roman temple west of Alexandria, our summer beach house—all this suddenly made him think of Proust. Had I read Proust? He asked. No, I hadn’t. Well, perhaps I should.23 

In a true Proustian moment, the smell of refried food drifting from a Parisian restaurant takes Aciman back to his early childhood years in Alexandria, where memories of the family’s summer house, ruined Roman temples, beaches, and tanneries immediately flow through his mind. This particular set of memories is very characteristic of the Western discourse on Alexandria, a discourse that is replete with references to the supposedly open Alexandrian society of artists, intellectuals, flâneurs and dilettantes (represented, as will be elaborated on below, by “the family house”); to the lost glory that was Alexandria (“Roman temples”); to the manner in which Alexandria had always been thought to be not in Egypt, but ad Ægyptum,24 (“the beaches”), and to the filth and squalor that had come to dominate modern Alexandria (“the tanneries”).

In his much acclaimed book, Out of Egypt, Aciman eloquently recreates this lost Alexandrian society;25 but according to an interview he gave to the CNN, he does so by “pretend[ing] to remember” it.26] His large and jovial family occupies center stage in his depiction of Alexandrian society in its “Golden Age”, and the book, described by the publisher’s blurb as a “richly colored memoir” that “chronicles the exploits of a flamboyant Jewish family”, has been praised on the back cover as “an extraordinary memoir of an eccentric family.” At the center of everyone is the author’s great uncle, Uncle Aaron, nicknamed Vili, who we are told, was “an octogenarian Turco-Italian-Anglophile-gentrified fascist Jew who started his professional life peddling Turkish fezzes in Vienna and Berlin and was to end it as sole auctioneer of deposed King Farouk’s property.”27 However, according to meticulous research in contemporary phone and business directories as well as in Le Mondain Egyptien (Egypt’s Who’s Who), Robert Mabro corroborated the findings of S. Raafat, author of Maadi 1904–1962: History and Society in a Cairo Suburb, in concluding that Uncle Vili’s character looks suspiciously similar to that of a certain Moïse G. Levi who was indeed involved with the sale of King Farouk’s property, but who most certainly lived in Maadi and therefore was a Cairene and not an Alexandrian. More to the point, Mabro argues that Levi “was related to the Acimans but it is doubtful that he was as close as being André’s great uncle.” Mabro convincingly argues that, disguised as an “extraordinary” memoir when it could be more correctly described as a first novel, but which nevertheless won a literary prize under the category of “memoirs”, Aciman’s Out of Egypt could be described as “only in part a memoir”.

The point, however, is not one of an author’s supposed plagiarism or a publisher’s clever marketing tactics; rather, it is about the need, both literary and political, for a character like that of Uncle Vili’s to be inserted in the “memoir” of a Jewish family in cosmopolitan Alexandria. For the cosmopolitanism of cosmopolitan Alexandria that is much celebrated by Western novelists, poets, literary critics and travel and memoir writers depends for its very existence on the presence of such figures of dilettantes, flâneurs, bohemian artists and polyglot intellectuals such as Uncle Vili. What is characteristic of Alexandrian cosmopolitanism is the need to stress the flamboyancy of such figures in order to highlight the concomitant themes of exile, loss and exodus that are so central to the myth of modern Alexandria. The exodus theme is pivotal in Aciman’s work, expressed by its title, Out of Egypt.

That “exodus” is never really contextualized, and we are not given an explanation for it. For example, in that same CNN interview, the host argues that the author’s exodus from Alexandria is crucial for understanding his subsequent work: “Aciman’s loss of Alexandria—‘the capital of memory’ as he calls it—is ground zero for the feelings of nostalgia and loss that pervade his stories. Aciman and his family left Egypt in 1965 when he was fourteen. They were among the last Jews in Alexandria, the remnants of a 2 000 year-old community forced out by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalist regime.”28 Besides the fact that Aciman’s family arrived in Egypt at the end of the nineteenth century—his maternal side from Aleppo and his paternal side from Constantinople—and was not part of a 2 000 year-old community, the expulsion of Egyptian Jews and of British and French nationals, as unjustified as it is, cannot be explained simply as the result of “ungrateful Egyptian nationalism.”29 One has to wonder, alongside Mabro, “What about seventy years of British occupation, Dinshaway, or the creation of Israel—causing the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to wretched refugee camps, not to the ‘hard’ life of Rome, Paris, Geneva, Montréal, Rio, New York, or Tel Aviv? And what about the simple fact that Egypt was invaded by France, Britain, and Israel in 1956?”30

The silence about these important political aspects is characteristic of the discourse of cosmopolitanism, and Aciman feels no need at all to dwell on such “trivial” matters as imperialism, colonial wars and racism when reconstructing the idyllic life his family had in Alexandria. Nor do we see in that discourse a credible account of how Arabic-speaking Alexandrians, those who are disparagingly referred to as “Arabs”, actually interacted with members of the polyglot, dilettante, cosmopolitan elite. In Out of Egypt, however, they do, and what a scene they make! Noteworthy, first, is that the only Arabs to appear in the book, and to whom Aciman graciously grants a name, are the servants who worked for his family; furthermore, it is telling that they are all described as being physically deformed. There is Om Ramadan, the washerwoman, who, besides being one-eyed, had lost the pigmentation on the skin of her arms as a result of the powerful bleach that she used.31 And there is the one-armed waiter, Hisham, who, incredibly, had to set the table and serve food at the large and festive family gatherings.32 Then we are introduced to the cooks, both called Abdou, one of whom was an alcoholic, and the other, his much older cousin, had a “terribly ulcerated leg, which my grandmother suspected was leprous”.33 Young Abdou, the one with the healthy leg, we are told, and his nephew, Mohammed, were in the habit of stealing Aciman’s grandfather’s clothes and shoes, which, one is asked to believe, they were incapable of wearing properly: “The servants did not appreciate shoelaces, so they would pull them out, walking with the instep wide open, their shoe tongues sticking out insolently.”34 Next, there is Fatma, who limped, and Aziza, who was deaf. Finally, we are introduced to Latifa, the maid, who was in the habit of fainting apparently for no good reason, and would complain in an inarticulate manner of bodily pain that she could not even locate. It had to fall to the European doctor, Alcabès, to explain Latifa’s mystery: Latifa had a cancerous tumor blocking her liver, and when it eventually grew to touch the spinal cord, the pain became unbearable. Soon thereafter Latifa died after only two weeks’s illness.35

However, what is wrong with the “Arabs”, Aciman asserts, is not how they appear, not their physical deformities, as grotesque as they may be. Rather, it is their very essence; their smell that makes them repugnant. For Egyptians, we are told, all drank hilba, “an auburn-colored substance” that is believed to have “curative properties”, but which “made their bodies exude what Europeans considered a repellent, dirty odor. My father called it une odeur d’arabe (an Arab smell), and he hated to find it trapped in his shirts, his linens, his food.” Aciman then goes on to elaborate further on why the Arabs could never really be admitted to Alexandrian, cosmopolitan society, in spite of their earnest efforts to look and act as Europeans:

This odor was so unmistakable and so over-whelming that one could immediately distinguish Westernized Egyptians, who used strong aftershave, from those who affected Western habits but whose minds, homes, and regimes were still steeped in the universe of hilba. Even if an Egyptian had completely adopted Western ways, shed his native customs to become what my parents called an évolué, and wore a suit every day, learned table manners, kissed mazmazelles’s hands whenever he greeted them, and knew his wines, his cheeses, and the required number of La Fontaine fables by heart, the fact that his clothes gave off the slightest trace of that telltale scent would make one think twice about his professed inclination for the West and suspect that not everyone in his household—himself included—had risen above the dark, sinister underside of Arab hygiene.36

In the travel literature from mid-nineteenth century Egypt the present inhabitants of this ancient city come across as “a degraded nation… It is a continuous theme of this tourist literature to associate, or rather to identify [Egyptians] with earth and with their habitations.”37 The intimate connection that the “Arab” population is believed to have always had with earth and mud proved to be an enduring characteristic of much of the writing about Alexandria. In a letter to a friend, for example, Forster writes of Egypt “the soil is mud, the inhabitants are mud-moving, and exasperating in the extreme.”38

The Ambivalence of Smell

Smell plays an ambivalent role in the discourse on cosmopolitan Alexandria. On the one hand, through its association with memory, the olfactory sense is evoked to refer to the “essence” of Alexandria, i.e. the belief that it can only be approached as a lost city. Hence, the attempt to retrieve this lost essence by talking about memories, by searching for lost time, and by the remembrance of things past. In the process, an idyllic city is created; a city whose credibility is premised not on faithfulness to historic realities but on its approximation to a poetic image. Here the essence of the city persists precisely because of its fragility, its unsubstantial form. This city, the Capital of Memory, cosmopolitan and open, endures and persists through the countless memoirs and literary works that struggle to retrieve those memories that “cling to the minds of old men like traces of perfume upon a sleeve”.39

On the other hand, the olfactory sense is poignantly used to refer to those who do not belong to this idyllic city, those whose presence in the city is only accidental, and never essential, and who, in fact, pollute and defile it.

This double role that smell plays in the discourse of modern Alexandria is also a reflection of the ambivalent nature of the olfactory sense itself. In both the Western and the Arab-Islamic medical traditions, smell occupied a curious position amongst the five senses, the number and order of which were fixed from early times. Unlike the immaterial qualities of light and color, smells were thought to have a material quality, making the odor of a rose, for example, linger in the air even after the rose itself has been removed. But at the same time, the very materiality of smell was thought to be quite distinct from the materiality of taste and touch. Not only was the materiality of smell different from that of touch and taste, it was also different from the immateriality of sight and sound: “The nose was not equivalent to the eye in seeing, the ear in hearing, or the tongue in taste. In smell alone the brain was the primary organ of perception.”40

It is this ambivalent nature of the olfactory sense that partly explains the contrasting manner in which the “cosmopolitan” and the “Arab” Alexandrias are written about: given that the first is believed to be a lost city, smell, through its close association with memory, i.e. with a cerebral function, is evoked to reconstruct it by piecing together the unsubstantial, immaterial fragments of memory. By contrast, in describing the second city, smell is again evoked, but in a drastically different manner. Here it is the filth and squalor of the city that are provided as keys to understanding it, and it is the very debased functions of the bodies of their residents—their eating, urinating, defecating and procreating functions—that are stressed as markers of that “Arab” city.

End of Part 1


  • 1. Michael Haag, Alexandria: City of Memory (Cairo, The American University of Cairo Press, 2004), 1–2.
  • 2. In reference to A. Kitroeff’s article, “The Alexandria We Have Lost”, Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, v.10, nos.1–2, 1983, 11–21, which, in turn, echoes Cavafy’s famous poem, “The God Abandons Antony”.
  • 3. As opposed to the “ancient” golden age under the Ptolemies.
  • 4. Sami Zubaida, “Cosmopolitanism and the Middle East,” in: Cosmopolitanism, Identity and Authenticity in the Middle East, ed. Roel Meijer (Richmond: Curzon, 1999), 26.
  • 5. Plutarch, The Life of Antony, par. 75.
  • 6. Hala Youssef Halim Youssef, “The Alexandria Archive: An Archaeology of Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism”, Diss. University of California, Los Angeles 2004.
  • 7. Lawrence Durrell, “Introduction”, in: Alexandria: A History and a Guide, First Reprint Edition (London: Michael Haag, 1982), xvi, quoted in John Rodenbeck, “Alexandria in Cavafy, Durrell, and Tsirkas,” Alif, v. 21, 2001, 141–160; quotation from 148.
  • 8. E.M. Forster, Alexandria: A History and a Guide (London, 1986), 61. Forster derived this information from Alfred J. Butler’s The Arab Conquest of Egypt (Oxford: Clarendon, 1902). According to Haag, however, Butler’s text indicates Amr’s amazement, not indifference; Haag, Alexandria: City of Memory, 338, n. 52.
  • 9. Forster, Alexandria: A History and a Guide, 62.
  • 10. Forster, Alexandria: A History and a Guide, 58, quoted in Halim, “The Alexandria Archive”, 171.
  • 11. Robert Ilbert, “International Waters,” in: Alexandria 1860–1960: The Brief Life of a Cosmopolitan Community, ed. Robert Ilbert and Ilios Yannakakis with Jaques Hassoun (Alexandria: Harpocrates, 1977), 13.
  • 12. Katerina Trimi and Ilios Yanakakis, “The Greeks: ‘The Parikia’ of Alexandria,” in: Alexandria 1860–1960, 64.
  • 13. See, for example, Jacques Hassoun, “The Jews, a Community of Contrasts,” in: Alexandria 1860–1960, 38.
  • 14. See, Henry Dodwell, The Founder of Modern Egypt: a Study of Muhammad Ali (Cambridge: The University Press, 1931).
  • 15. Edmond Keeley, Cavafy’s Alexandria (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 5.
  • 16. Keeley, Cavafy’s Alexandria, 4–5.
  • 17. Haag, Alexandria: City of Memory, 2.
  • 18. Forster, Alexandria: A History and a Guide, xxvi; quoted in Halim, “The Alexandria Archive”, 133.
  • 19. Keeley, Cavafy’s Alexandria, 135.
  • 20. Durrell, Justine, Alexandria Quartet, 152.
  • 21. EMF to Florence Barger, 28 April 1916. E. M. Forster archive, library of King’s College, Cambridge; quoted in Haag, Alexandria: City of Memory, 11.
  • 22. Haag, Alexandria: City of Memory, 10.
  • 23. André Aciman, “Letter From Illiers-Combray: In Search of Proust”, in: The New Yorker, December 21, 1998, 81.
  • 24. Or in the words of Forster, “a coastal strip on which since the days of Herodotus European influences have rained”: E.M. Forster, The Uncollected Essays of E.M. Forster, ed. Hilda D. Spear and Abdel‑Moneim Aly (Dundee: Blackness Press, 1988), 37; quoted in Halim, “The Alexandria Archive”, 129.
  • 25. André Aciman, Out of Egypt (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1994).
  • 26. See CNN interview
  • 27. Aciman, Out of Egypt, 7.
  • 28. See CNN interview
  • 29. Robert Mabro, “Nostalgic literature on Alexandria,” in: Historians in Cairo: Essays in Honor of George Scanlon, ed. Jill Edwards, (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2002), 237–65; quotation from, 250.
  • 30. Mabro, “Nostalgic literature”, 250–251.
  • 31. Aciman, Out of Egypt, 105–06.
  • 32. Ibid., 108.
  • 33. Aciman, Out of Egypt, 108–09.
  • 34. Ibid., 126.
  • 35. Ibid., 185–93.
  • 36. Aciman, Out of Egypt, 104–105.
  • 37. J. Barrell, “Death on the Nile: Fantasy and Literature of Tourism, 1840–1860”, in: Essays in Criticism, v. 41, no. 2 (April 1991), 97–127; quotations from 106–107.
  • 38. E. M. Forster, Selected Letters of E.M. Forster, v. 1, ed. M. Lago and P.N. Furbank (London and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983), 233.
  • 39. Durrell, Justine, Alexandria Quartet, 152.
  • 40. Richard Palmer, “In Bad Odor: Smell and its Significance in Medicine from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century,” in : Medicine and the Five Senses (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 61–68; quotation from 62.