Ancient Egypt in the aesthetic and decadent imaginary
This chapter turns to ancient Egypt in the literature of the aesthetic and decadent movements, exploring how this differs from the so-called classical ‘ideal’ of Greece and Rome. Beginning with Baudelaire’s influential use of ancient Egypt in the ‘Spleen’ poems of Les Fleurs du mal (1857), it locates three interrelated, but also competing and seemingly contradictory, discursive deployments of ancient Egypt in literature of the period: firstly, in an argument derived from Hegel’s Aesthetics (1818–29), Egypt as ‘Symbolic’ mystery, whose art is underdeveloped by comparison to the ‘Classical Ideal’, waiting for the day of the ‘Greek spirit … with its power of speech’; secondly, Egypt as a site of ennui, where the ‘symbolic’ dimensions are linked intrinsically to a melancholic decadence and to death; and thirdly, Egypt as exoticism, and Orientalist sensuality, linking also to the significance of contemporary fin-de-siècle Egypt in homosexual culture. This chapter examines Walter Pater’s essay on ‘Winckelmann’ from The Renaissance (1873), and Oscar Wilde’s poem The Sphinx (1894) amongst other materials to argue that ancient Egypt was a marginal but nevertheless significant subject for the aesthetes and decadents.
This chapter addresses the ancient Egyptian dimensions of George Eliot’s Adam Bede (1859). Using Eliot’s opening lines likening authorship to Egyptian sorcery as a springboard, this chapter argues for the continued significance of this reference throughout Adam Bede, demonstrating an interconnectedness between established Christian motifs and ancient Egyptian religion and mythology. In addition to the Wesleyan Methodist aspects of the novel, this chapter demonstrates a discernible recreation of the biblical Genesis story running throughout the text, combined with tangible references to ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. This analysis is contextualised through references to other works on ancient Egypt that likely influenced Eliot, including Edward William Lane’s Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), his translations of The Thousand and One Nights (1838–40), and Charles Knight’s The Pictorial Bible (1836–38). Overall, this chapter places Eliot’s first novel within its contemporary Egyptological culture and, in doing so, proposes that Adam Bede retells the biblical story of Adam and Eve with a distinctly ancient Egyptian inflection.
This chapter focuses on a British illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s satirical short story ‘Some Words with a Mummy’ (1845), which was published posthumously in an anthology of his works in 1852. This illustration is the earliest known visual depiction of a revived Egyptian mummy, a character that later became an archetypal figure in Victorian literature. This chapter situates the unknown artist’s vision of the fictional mummy Allamistakeo within the history of visual and literary depictions of mummies and the sociopolitical discourses they articulated, comparing the illustrator’s engagement within contemporary debates with those suggested by Poe’s text. While Poe does not assign a racial identity to Allamistakeo, the illustrator gives the mummy an African appearance, evoking scientific disputes about the racial origins of the ancient Egyptians. In bringing to light this illustration and analysing it as part of the wider corpus of mummy literature as well as the racial debates that this body of literature responded to and furthered, this chapter demonstrates that both Poe and his illustrator invited contemporary readers to question commonly held racial stereotypes and European imperialist ideology.
Pondichéry as an imperial city in the Mughal state system
This chapter examines the French station and later colonial centre in the Indian Ocean trade region of Pondichéry. It gives an account of the city’s building history since its founding by a director of the East India Company, a short interludium of Dutch occupation, and the city’s flourishing under the governor-general Dupleix. Compared to the Antilles, the colonial architecture in Pondichéry was much more impressive and lavishly styled. The main structure in the city, Fort Louis, was, however, a construction site over many years until it achieved its intended ideal form in the Vauban fashion. The chief engineers had a large Indian workforce at their disposal that had to be paid to the customs of the land. Therefore expertise for masonry, brickworks, carpentry, etc. was available through the mediation of local contractors who organized the logistics, supply for materials, and most of the work at the construction site. Under Dupleix the most elaborate French architectures emerged, like the government palace, that were supposed to awe the Indian princes of the neighbouring kingdoms. The intention for forming an imperial standing by visual and material means was directed not to Europe, but to the subcontinent itself with its complicated system of states that was loosely bound together by the rule of the Mughal. Thus Dupleix’s ambition to empire was to be recognized by the Indian emperor and not by another European power.
It has been argued that BIE won the referendum because of their likeable campaigners, superior finances and organisation and widespread media support. But is this the case? This chapter explores these advantages and asks whether they were the decisive factors in securing a ‘yes’ vote in 1975. In doing so, it examines BIE’s established ‘insider’ status, the impact of the renegotiation, and BIE’s connections to Westminster and other organisations as key aspects of their campaign.
This study explores the shared history of the French empire from a perspective of material culture in order to re-evaluate the participation of colonial, Creole, and indigenous agency in the construction of imperial spaces. The decentred approach to a global history of the French colonial realm allows a new understanding of power relations in different locales. Traditional binary models that assume the centralization of imperial power and control in an imperial centre often overlook the variegated nature of agency in the empire. In a selection of case studies in the Caribbean, Canada, Africa, and India, several building projects show the mixed group of planners, experts, and workers, the composite nature of building materials, and elements of different ‘glocal’ styles that give the empire its concrete manifestation. Thus the study proposes to view the French overseas empire in the early modern period not as a consequence or an outgrowth of Eurocentric state building, but rather as the result of a globally interconnected process of empire building.
The renegotiation has been seen as a political strategy designed to manage the Labour Party rather than as a genuine attempt to redress the UK’s terms of membership. While it is clear that Wilson was trying to manage his party-political problem, the renegotiation was also continuous with the Heath government’s attempts to reform the EC. This chapter examines Minister of Agriculture Fred Peart’s attempts at reforming the CAP and the extent of his achievements.
While 1973 was a bad year to join the Community, there were other factors that contributed to the difficulties in UK–EC relations. The decision, taken during the accession negotiations, to accept the CAP despite the knowledge that it would contribute to the UK’s position as a net contributor to the EC budget was justified by the belief that the UK could ‘join now and negotiate later’. Thus, following entry, the Heath government’s approach to EC agricultural policy was shaped by the need to reform the CAP. This chapter examines the extent to which the government achieved its aims.
This chapter focuses on the French military engineer and architect François Blondel, known for the construction of several monumental structures in metropolitan France. Blondel devised several plans and accounts on the feasibility of developing existing strongholds in modern fortresses or choosing completely new sites for a rayon of fortified towns, forts, and batteries. Blondel’s maps represented the islands as seemingly homogenous entities, where local differences between French and Carib settlements were blurred. This spatial construction of the islands of French territory on representations such as maps or plans was preceded by the so-called seigneurial period on the islands, including next to Guadeloupe and Martinique also Saint-Christophe (Saint-Kitts and Nevis) and Tortuga Island. It was then that French feudal proprietors tried to enclose land with a combination of manorial economy with a kind of baroque representation practice resulting in the creation of several more or less magnificent ‘castles’ on the islands. It is important to consider this ‘feudal’ period in order to understand how it prefigured the effort in the later seventeenth and in the eighteenth century to form a territory from only a few individual and scattered settlements and strongholds that could be regarded as a coherent empire.
The example of the fortified port city of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island (formerly Île Royale) gives a different outlook on large building practices and the community it fostered. Thanks to more available resources in Canada large structures of the city that were destroyed in the Seven Years’ War are not only being reconstructed as a national lieu de mémoire, but also much more thoroughly researched. The towers of this Atlantic coastal town were a landmark that were reputed for not only representing French power in the region against other nations, but also representing the enormous costs figuring in the budgets of the Versailles government. Louisbourg was indeed exceptional to the other colonies in the sense that workers employed at the construction site were predominantly of European origin. The Mi’kmaq, the indigenous nation of the Île Royale, were neither included in the construction of the town nor were they part of its community. The exclusive confinement of Louisbourg, however, can be seen as a spatial practice typical for French expansion in the Canadian Upper Country, where they pursued the establishment of a series of fortresses as a claim to empire in North America. Thus the building practice in Louisbourg was segregationist in nature and did only produce a space that served few French settlers as the condition for forming their French identity.