May Her Likes Be Multiplied: Biography and Gender Politics in Egypt

By Marilyn Booth | Go to book overview

4
May Our Daughters Listen
Readers, Writers, Teachers

She is an excellent writer in whom it is our right to take pride— and to adorn Young Woman of the East with her portrait. No wonder, for she has distinguished herself by the noblest qualities and most exalted sensibility. To the loveliness of her attributes she has added the beauty of her hard work as she has exerted herself to acquire knowledge…. She spends her time serving humanity, sowing the seeds of learning and refinement in the Coptic Girls' School of Asyut…. We ask God to reward her well and to multiply her likes among women so the East will advance. For no country ascends except by means of its women.

“Miss Victoria Tannous, ”Young Woman of the East, 1912

How wondrous are concealed strengths when stirred by justice's demand; and how much more wondrous that a woman alone would shoulder this, relying after God on herself and her unswerving courage…. Such was Madame Popp—or wretched, despised worker Adelheid… whose struggle [jihad] was crowned with success; who through resolute ambition acceded to a seat in the Municipal Council of Vienna. Shortly thereafter she won a seat in the Austrian parliament and is now a leading member, one of those whose voices are heard in every session offering apposite opinions, criticizing proposals, and executing projects!

Conceived in destitution, raised in surroundings of hardship, growing up in misery's embrace, and coping with poverty, this woman reached such a high position, member of Parliament, through her own resolve, self-reliance, and fine patience… after suffering what many men of today would be incapable of bearing. How many have reached a state of despair.

She arrived after heroic struggle on life's battlefield. She attacked difficulties head on and broached the chasm that separated a poor, feeble, female worker from… centers of influence and authority, such that she could dictate her will to the government…. So to my excellent female countrywomen I proffer these lines, this pure white page full of so many exemplary lessons and sermons from the life of a woman who strove and endured, not letting despair into her heart, until she attained the highest of positions.

-109-

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May Her Likes Be Multiplied: Biography and Gender Politics in Egypt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Technical Note xi
  • Prologue xiii
  • 1 - Zaynab Fawwaz, Arabic Biographical Writing, and a Canon of Female Visibility 1
  • 2 - A Politics of Address 35
  • 3 - Biography in the Journal for Women 62
  • 4 - Readers, Writers, Teachers 109
  • 5 - Discursive Domesticities 171
  • 6 - Community, Identity, and Difference 233
  • 7 - Women's Biography as Spectacle 270
  • 8 - Gender, Nation, and Life Writing in Today's Egypt 281
  • Notes 311
  • Selected Bibliography 427
  • Index 443
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