At home in Southern Egypt: Lucie Duff Gordon’s life on the nile

Capancioni, C. (2022) At home in Southern Egypt: Lucie Duff Gordon’s life on the nile. de genere Rivista di studi letterari, postcoloniali e di genere / Journal of Literary, Postcolonial and Gender Studies (7). pp. 23-35. ISSN 2465-2415

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Brought up in Germany, France, and England, Lucie Duff Gordon was a distinguished English translator of literary and scholarly texts with an atypical but rigorous education. Her intellectual and linguistic talents found a renewed purpose in Southern Egypt, where she spent the last seven years of her life. In search of a warmer, dry climate to improve her serious health conditions, she created a meaningful Egyptian life in Luxor where she connected with the community, learnt Arabic, practised as an amateur doctor, and studied the local culture, traditions, and religions. Her perceptive letters also bear witness to the controversial rule of the Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, to the poverty of the working classes, and to those forced to work on the Suez Canal. Published during her life as Letters from Egypt, 1863-65 (1865), her epistolary travel literature remains an original contribution to travel writing because it is distinguished by her gendered, multilingual, and intercultural perspective that does not suffer of what Duff Gordon herself claims to be “the usual defect – the people are not real people” (2021, 92) of nineteenth-century travel books. Her correspondence focuses on human interactions and interconnecting the local with the global. Moreover, her letters bring to light her transnational subjectivity, her abilities as a cultural mediator and compelling storyteller, as well as her inquisitiveness and intercultural knowledge. An acute and perceptive translator, this article posits Duff Gordon established a multilingual and intercultural home on the river Nile that challenged both nineteenth-century British and Egyptian expectations.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 Edizioni Labrys. This is an author-produced version of a paper accepted for publication in Journal of Literary, Postcolonial and Gender Studies. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Divisions: School of Humanities
Depositing User: Dr Claudia Capancioni
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 09:38
Last Modified: 16 May 2022 09:38

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