The noted British writer and traveller J. A. St John journeyed through Egypt and Nubia in 1832. Proficient in Arabic and travelling mainly on foot, he gathered material for this account of the manners, customs, and everyday life of the Arab people then under the rule of the Pasha, Muhammad Ali. Beginning in the slave markets of cosmopolitan Alexandria, St. John proceeds south for a thousand miles to the Second Cataract of the Nile. Appreciative of the antiquities and of a landscape that offered many opportunities for hunting, his main interest was in the people and their pursuits, and he is tireless in following them. Architecture and interiors, food and festivals, bath houses and bazaars are all described. But it is the people themselves that fascinate him -- their character, beliefs, sense of humor, hopes and fears that he describes so acutely. St John consider Arab society as a whole, peasants as well as princes, the Bedouin, and the townspeople who have to deal with taxation and government restrictions. He gives unusually full accounts of the women he encounters, a rarity at the time. This is no Orientalist fantasy, but a portrait of a living oriental culture described in all its complexity.
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