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

By Marilyn Booth | Go to book overview

6
Jeanne d'Arc, Egyptian Nationalist
Community, Identity, and Difference

What could be more amazing than a weak girl of sixteen standing alone to save France, raising to the throne a weak king, expelling the English from their fortresses and castles, breathing into the souls of the French the spirit of noble audacity and boldness, and elevating them to the highest rank of nations?

“Jan Dark, ”The Bride, 1929

Her education along European lines merely kindled the hatred her heart held toward the European politics that is consummating the East's enslavement. When the British tried to put her in political detention, she disguised herself in a green turban and fled like a Hajji going to Mecca. She appeared on the battlefield to ignite the fire of zeal in the soldiers, as if she were the Turks' Jeanne d'Arc. Halide's boldness opened the Eastern woman's Awakening—that woman who had slept the sleep of slavery for so long.

“Nabighat al-Turkiyyat: Awwal wazira fi al-'alam mar'a
sharqiyya: al-Sayyida Khalida Adib Hanim wazirat al-ma'arif, ”
Ladies' and Girls' Revue, 1923

From Hatshepsut to Safiyya Zaghlul, from Alexandra Avierino, Marie Antoinette, and Juliet Adam to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sarujini Naidu, and Helen Modjeska, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Betsy Taqla to Jeanne d'Arc, biographical subjects “East” and “West” are united textually by “love of nation. ” Taqla “took pride in her Easternness and jealously guarded its honor with a fervor that knew no bounds, despite being raised in Europe and in European schools. ” She favored appropriating Europe's “good aspects” but criticized those who scorned the heritage of their ancestors. She “detested those who did not work for the watan, and was not afraid to say so. ” 1 If women's work for the watan is biographically inscribed most vociferously in a vigorous domesticity, we have already seen that a different page could be taken out of exemplars “West” and “East. ” Recall the profile of Winteringham, British MP, in the Egyptian Woman's Magazine, expressing the hope that “our 'parliamentary dreams' will be realized when Egypt reaps the fruits of its national struggle, so it will have a free legislature like the British Commons, its chairs honored by the seating there of a refined

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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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