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Hieroglyphic ModernismsWriting and New Media in the Twentieth Century$
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Jesse Schotter

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474424776

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474424776.001.0001

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The ‘Essence’ of Egypt

The ‘Essence’ of Egypt

Chapter:
(p.127) 4 The ‘Essence’ of Egypt
Source:
Hieroglyphic Modernisms
Author(s):

Jesse Schotter

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474424776.003.0005

The fourth chapter restores hieroglyphs to their historical and cultural context in post-Revolutionary Egypt, exploring how interpretations of the Pharaonic past and its hieroglyphs intervened in Egypt’s twentieth century struggles for cultural and national identity. The first novels by Naguib Mahfouz and Tawfiq al-Hakim, from the 1920s and 30s, draw on the ‘Pharaonicist’ movement of the period, co-opting the European Orientalist discourses with which Egypt was defined in order to forge their own definitions of the racial and cultural ‘essence’ of Egypt. Yet these national concerns remain linked with an interest in the ontology of media forms; the chapter concludes by focusing on Shadi Abd al-Salam’s film al-Mummia, from 1969, which looks back to early twentieth century Pharaonicism and connects its attempt to reclaim the past with film’s ability to record and preserve Egyptian hieroglyphs and artifacts.

Keywords:   Egypt, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Naguib Mahfouz, Film, Orientalism, Pharaonicism, Modernism

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