August 20, 2009

Anglo-Egyptian Fiction

As I putter away at my project on Ahdaf Soueif, I've been trying to think of other modern novels that qualify as "Anglo-Egyptian": that is, novels by English novelists but set primarily (or at least significantly) in or about Egypt. For my purposes, I think I would exclude novels about Ancient Egypt (which in my experience tend to be of the costume-and-jewelry form of historical fiction--not that there's anything wrong with that, and also Pauline Gedge's Child of the Morning is an old favourite of mine). I would also not expect to be interested in lighter fiction, such as mysteries, for which Egypt is really just a conveniently exotic setting. I could be persuaded, of course, to look at interesting examples from either of these categories. But I'm mostly looking for "serious" or literary fiction, fiction with some ambition, if you like, primarily because that's where I would expect to find interesting ideas about what it means for an English novelist to write about Egypt. The obvious examples I'm aware of are Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, Olivia Manning's Levant Trilogy, and Penelope Lively's Cleopatra's Sister and (another old favourite) Moon Tiger. Other suggestions?

Update: Now that I've read it, I realize that Lively's Cleopatra's Sister is not actually about Egypt.


JRussell said...

Parts of John Fowles's _Daniel Martin_ are set in Egypt. The protagonist is doing research for a film about the Lord Kitchener. Too early, perhaps , but interesting, is Trollope's _The Bertrams_.

JRussell said...

PS also Evelyn Waugh's _Sword of Honour_ trilogy. I think the second part is the one that contains the Egyptian section, very much concerned with military matters, as far as I remember.

Rohan Maitzen said...

Thanks: I'll look these up. I put The Bertrams on my Sony Reader already--and searched for "Egypt," which was a quick cheat but did take me straight to a bunch of good scenes. I also downloaded his "An Unprotected Woman at the Pyramids," which is an odd little piece.