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Old 09-25-2012, 11:04 AM   #16
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I was surprised at the book's description of Dervishes as "howling dervishes". Whirling Dervishes I've heard, so-called because of the ecstatic dances performed by these Sufi ascetics, but never heard them described as howling.
There are different kinds of dervishes. Howling dervishes are just lesser known. They all believe in ecstatic devotion through continued exertion.
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:27 PM   #17
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There are different kinds of dervishes. Howling dervishes are just lesser known. They all believe in ecstatic devotion through continued exertion.

Thank you. I have learned something today.
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Old 09-25-2012, 02:29 PM   #18
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Currently reading Black Swan Green (another bookclub choice) and haven't even started this yet .
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:32 PM   #19
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[T]he first zikr, as it is called, came abruptly to an end. Some few, however, could not stop immediately, but kept on swaying and muttering to themselves; while the one in the fit, having ceased to shriek, lay out stiff and straight, apparently in a state of coma. There was a murmur of relief and a simultaneous rising among the spectators. It was announced that another zikr, with a reinforcement of fresh dervishes, would soon begin; but the Europeans had had enough of it, and few remained for the second performance. Going out, we paused beside the poor fellow on the floor, and asked if nothing could be done for him. "He is struck by Mohammed," said gravely an Egyptian official who was standing by.
I don't wish to start a religious discussion here, but I couldn't help but notice the similarities between the state of the dervish in that passage who was "struck by Mohammed" and those charismatic/pentecostal Christians here in the United States who have experienced being "slain in the Spirit." Even the language is similar.
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:07 AM   #20
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I don't wish to start a religious discussion here, but I couldn't help but notice the similarities between the state of the dervish in that passage who was "struck by Mohammed" and those charismatic/pentecostal Christians here in the United States who have experienced being "slain in the Spirit." Even the language is similar.
I find all references to religion in this book highly interesting. They are in some way much more "pure" than what we today can read about the Islam.
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:48 PM   #21
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I find all references to religion in this book highly interesting. They are in some way much more "pure" than what we today can read about the Islam.
i agree. I think that is because she is more reportorial in style; she tends to avoid judgmental comments concerning religious beliefs.

I am impressed by her skillfully organised vivid descriptive passages which combine evocative imagery and very precise detail. Here's a nice sample from Chapter 4:

"It might be thought there would be some monotony in such a scene, and but little beauty. On the contrary, however, there is beauty of a most subtle and exquisite kind – transcendent beauty of colour, and atmosphere, and sentiment ; and no monotony either in the landscape or in the forms of the pyramids. One of these which we are now approaching is built in a succession of platforms gradually decreasing towards the top. Another down yonder at Dahshûr curves outward at the angles, half dome, half pyramid, like the roof of the Palais de Justice in Paris. No two are of precisely the same size, or built at precisely the same angle ; and each cluster differs somehow in the grouping.

"Then again the colouring! – colouring not to be matched with any pigments yet invented. The Libyan rocks, like rusty gold – the paler hue of the driven sand-slopes – the warm maize of the nearer Pyramids which, seen from this distance, takes a tender tint of rose, like the red bloom on an apricot – the delicate tone of these objects against the sky – the infinite gradation of that sky, soft and pearly towards the horizon, blue and burning towards the zenith – the opalescent shadows, pale blue, and violet, and greenish-grey, that nestle in the hollows of the rock and the curves of the sand-drifts – all this is beautiful in a way impossible to describe, and alas! impossible to copy. Nor does the lake-like plain with its palm-groves and corn-flats form too tame a foreground. It is exactly what is wanted to relieve that glowing distance."

As is the case with so many Victorian writers she enjoys meditating on a scene and moralizing on its special meaning to her. As one would expect in Egypt, she is impressed with the huge sweep of time. Here are her comments on the "lesser" Pyramids:

"As for the Pyramid in platforms (which is the largest at Sakkârah, and next largest to the Pyramid of Khafra) its position is so fine, its architectural style so exceptional, its age so immense, that one altogether loses sight of these questions of relative magnitude. If Egyptologists are right in ascribing the royal title hieroglyphed on the inner door of this pyramid to Ouenephes, the fourth king of the First Dynasty, then it is the most ancient building in the world. It had been standing from five to seven hundred years when King Khufu began his Great Pyramid at Ghîzeh. It was over two thousand years old when Abraham was born. It is now about six thousand eight hundred years old according to Manetho and Mariette, or about four thousand eight hundred according to the computation of Bunsen. One's imagination recoils upon the brink of such a gulf of time."

Edwards give a great deal of detail on the material contained in each specific Chapter in the Table of Contents, which makes this an easy book to browse and return to favourite passages {something I see myself doing}.

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Old 09-28-2012, 03:11 PM   #22
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Reminds me of her description of certain sights along her travels in the Sudanese city of Wady Halfeh:

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I made no sketch. I felt that it would be ludicrous to attempt it. And I feel now that any endeavour to put the scene into words is a mere presumptuous effort to describe the indescribable. Words are useful instruments; but, like the etching needle and the burin, they stop short at form. They cannot translate colour.
"Words ... cannot translate colour." Well said.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:35 PM   #23
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I am still reading this and the first thing that stood out for me was that her writing reminded me of old family letters. Older members of the family would write in detail and we would "experience" the setting, people, and conversation, just like we were there.

Also, the pictures, that I zoom on my Fire, are fantastic.
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Old 10-14-2012, 06:02 PM   #24
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It took me quite a while to finish this book but I liked it very much and found it highly interesting. Until now I don't know very much about ancient Egypt history but this book definitely has arisen an interest in this field.

As I've never been to Egypt this quote from the book
Quote:
That second hand-knowledge goes for nothing, however, in presence of the reality.
could have worked as a motto for my reading too. I can imagine that "A Thousand Miles Up the Nile" works as a perfect travel guide: it precisely describes what one sees today and what one could have seen along the same path about one hundred years ago. It must be fascinating to compare these two aspects on the spot.

So, Harry, thank you very much for proposing this book and "forcing" me to read something totally new, and thanks to all the others for voting for this book.

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Old 10-14-2012, 06:49 PM   #25
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Yes, I second the thanks to Harry. I too have just finished reading the book and found it fascinating. Beautifully written and illustrated and giving a flavour of the attitudes of the time.

The event that others have written about already, where the Idle Man managed to inflict some apparently minor damage on a small child with his gun, seems to me to say a lot about the English of that time - well, probably Europeans generally - in terms of the need to report and have punished the fact that the natives dared to retaliate when the child was injured.

The brutal punishment inflicted on Aboriginals who dared to spear sheep for food (because the kangaroos had been slaughtered to make room for the sheep) and the savagery of the punishment if they actually killed or injured a white person were more extreme examples of the same attitude here in Australia. And of course the same sort of thing was happening in various other parts of the world.

It is appalling to us of course, but it was how things were at the time.

To finish on a happier note, I thought the way she ended the book was beautiful, with the image of the Nile melting into the distance and leading back to Thebes, Philae and Abou Simbel.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:42 PM   #26
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For what it's worth, The book didn't really work for me. I would rather the Club had chosen a more up to date and more readable account if it was going to go with a travelog. To me it appeared that no detail was trivial enough to be left out. I didn't need the exact measurements of every room they visited. But that's me. Different strokes, as they say.

But the formatting was nice.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:06 PM   #27
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For what it's worth, The book didn't really work for me. I would rather the Club had chosen a more up to date and more readable account if it was going to go with a travelog.
I was the opposite. If I had wanted an up-to-date version of a place to visit, then I would have looked on the web for photos and information. This was something that I may have just skipped if it hadn't been chosen. I can also say that yes, I am of the impatient generation and my eyes do glaze over and I think "just get on with it", but I would just put the book down and come back to it later.
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To me it appeared that no detail was trivial enough to be left out. I didn't need the exact measurements of every room they visited. But that's me. Different strokes, as they say.
To me, this was a fascinating view of how people and places were described to those not there, especially when photos were not in use. There were no "vacation" photos to be shared with family and friends when you arrived home. Words painted and gave the picture. I think we have lost the art of doing this along with the art of being able to listen (or read).

I have a better understanding of historical accounts about people who had writing desks or boxes and spent daily time on their correspondence. I better understand why they were excited about any letter that arrived. A time when correspondence was excitedly received and different from today where we are overwhelmed by the amount of information all around us. A letter was cherished and read and reread, but today we pick and choose to read and delete or look and click to change sites/channels and then move on.
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But the formatting was nice.
And after saying all the above, I am still reading the book.
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