Seminar paper from the year 2013 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, University of Alexandria (Faculty of Arts (English Dept.)), course: Biography & Autobiography, language: English, abstract: Sophia Lane was the sister of the famous orientalist Edward William Lane, who suggested that she and her sons join him in Egypt so that she could report on the female side of Egypt's gender-segregated society. The result was her book of letters "The Englishwoman in Egypt: Letters from Cairo". Like her brother, Lane adopted local customs and dress in order to gain acceptance in Egyptian social circles. However, Lane herself hated veiling, and writes that she veiled only in order to gain access to harems, bathhouses, and other "women-only" areas. Her autobiography is extremely interesting for the average European reader who reads about the exotic strange Orient with its weird habits and customs as well as the modern scholar who finds it a rich source of information about an important period in the history of Egypt specially that it covers the everyday life more than the historical events as seen from an external point of view. She writes "Imagine the face covered closely by a muslin veil, double at the upper part, the eyes only uncovered and over a dress of coloured silk an overwhelming covering of black silk extending in my idea in every direction. I looked with dismay at the donkey I must mount which was waiting for me. Nothing can be more awkward and uncomfortable than this riding dress." (Lane 38) There are lots of other bizarre incidents (according to the Europeans) in the book like the belief of the appearance of the "Efreet" and the servants leaving the family, the phenomenon of "el sarab" or the mirage, Ramadan habits including the severity of fasting, the night call of prayer by the "Mueddins" and "el mesaharaty" calling people to have a final last chance meal before fasting, the description of mosques from the inside through her dashing adventure, marriage without seeing the future wife, Muslim ceremonies regarding the dead, cemeteries and the hired mourners, the description of public baths for females and the harem.
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