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

By Marilyn Booth | Go to book overview

7
From Sober to Salacious
Women's Biography as Spectacle

She stands out as one of the most able and skilled of Eastern women, one of those refined, educated women who manage their duties excellently and handle their affairs with wisdom and vision. Moreover, she is one of those who take in their stride the advances of the age, to the extent that these suit Eastern customs and do not transgress sacred religious principles.

“The Begum of Bhopal, ”The Bride, 1926

And thus did death put an end to the evils of Mata Hari, the dancer who infatuated thousands.

“The Most Famous Spy in the World:
Mata Hari, Part 8, ”The Bride, 1926

On January 26, 1927,The Bride carried three pictures under its masthead. The largest showed the prince of Wales offering a farewell kiss to his brother's wife. To the side appeared two faces, the first belonging to the “leader of the women's awakening in Persia, Zuhra Hanim Haydar. ” Iranian women had been hugely influential in their country's “modern awakening, ” explained the caption. They were “distinguished by their dedication to their nation and great desire to acquire learning, so that you even find among village women those who compose poetry and discuss philosophy on the basis of knowledge and reading. ” The caption below the lower photograph was quite different. “This is not a portrait of a pretty actress, ” announced the magazine, “but of a thief, a highway robber and famous murderer. Her name is Rebecca Bradley, and she was recently arrested in America as she stormed a bank. ” 1 The masthead carried the description The Bride had borne since its 1925 founding: “Al-Arusa is a magazine of entertainment, literature, science, and history, featuring photographs of contemporary events and famous ladies of the world, published weekly by Iskandar Makariyus. ”

The family names of magazine proprietors were not changing as quickly as were magazines themselves. A contemporary of the Egyptian Woman's Magazine, the Magazine of the Women's Awakening, and Young Woman

-270-

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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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