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Scenes and social life from the Cosmopolitan era of Alexandria

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Published on Apr 8, 2014

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don't mourn your luck that's failing now,
your work that failed, your life's plans
all proving deceptive—don't mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Constantine Cavafy [1863-1933]
..Cosmopolitan Alexandria is a term that is usually applied for a period in the history of the Egyptian city of alexandria lasting from [1860 -1961]. Large numbers of Greeks, Italians, French, English,Maltese, Armenians, Lebanese, Syrians,Turks,Bulgarians,Jews ,etc,lived in harmony within each other and with the local people . . In the featured video,I will present a collection of photos,mainly of notable people and social life from the vanished cosmopolitan era of Alexandria

The cosmopolitan era of Alexandria inspired the talent of many poets,writers and historians.Among these were the Greek Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy[1863-1933],the Britons E. M. Forster [1879-1970] , Lawrence Durrell [1912-1990] and the current Michael Haag.
Forster wrote- Alexandria: A History and Guide (1922)
Pharos and Pharillon (1923).
Lawrence Durrell was famous for his [Alexandria Quartet]. The Alexandria Quartet is a tetralogy of novels, published between 1957 and 1960., the books present four perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Alexandria,Egypt, before and during World War II.
Michael Haag is a writer, historian and photographer. He has written for major newspapers and magazines in Britain and America, and he has broadcast for the BBC. He lives in London, England.He authored several books on Alexandria as
1.Alexandria: City of Memory 2004
2.Vintage Alexandria: 2008
Photographs of the City 1860-1960

From the more than 200 photos presented by Haag in [Vintage Alexandria].I chose some,among which are:

.Photograph of Rose de Menasce, She was married to Baron Edmund de Menasce, a cousin of Baron Felix de Menasce, both members of a prominent Jewish family of the Alexandrian society. She was a friend of Cavafy and Durrell
The legend tells us Rose is attending an event at the Sporting Club in 1914
Another photo shows her at the beach about 1928

2.Haag's farewell to Cosmopolitan Alexandria is represented by a photograph of wealthy Greeks celebrating the end of 1957.
3.Anna Bajocchi leans on her balcony over Rue Fuad and looks at the city below It's 1952,. In the Alexandria of the imagination, she resembles Clea Badaro, the artist who becomes Clea Montis in the Quartet. The caption traces Anna's lineage back to "an Italian doctor in the service of Muhammad Ali and Ibrahim Pasha."

4. A photograph from Vintage Alexandria shows Eve Cohen at the Scottish Girls School, Alexandria. Eve later became Lawrence Durrell's second wife and a model for Justine in the Alexandria Quartet

5.Other photographs feature some places in Alexandria dating from the late 19th century till the late 1950 s
as Sidi Gaber railway station,Greek girls celebrating their national day,others working in the tobacco industry,some streets,etc.A prominent presence of foreign communities is always seen,men wearing hats and blazers,elegant women in European dress,clean streets,etc.
Finally,some photos show figures from the cosmopolitan era of the
City,as some multi ethnic students and teachers from E.G.C. English Girls College or El Nasr Chatby College in the 1940s and 1950s,
some members of the Jewish community in everyday life and in synagogues,notable people who were born and spend their youth years at Alexandria as:
Demis Roussos born June 15, 1946) (Greek singer)
Eric Hobsbawm (born 9 June 1917) (British historian)
Georges Moustaki (born in Alexandria, Egypt May 3, 1934) (Greek-French singer and composer)
Giuseppe Ungaretti (8 February 1888 -- 2 June 1970) (Italian poet)
Penelope Delta (1874--1941) Greek author
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (December 22, 1876 -- December 2, 1944) (Italian poet and artist, founder of Futurism)
Constantine P. Cavafy (1863--1933) Greek poet
Chantal Chamandy (born at Alexandria, with Greek and Lebanese heritage), a Canadian singer and entertainer based in Montreal, Quebec
The accompanying music is an old Greek tune of unknown composer titled:_Alexandriani Mou Glastra [My Alexandrian Flower Pot]
References
1.Michael Haag [2008]
Vintage Alexandria
Photographs of the City, 1860--1960
An intriguing collection of archival photographs that reveals the forgotten heart of a great cosmopolitan city [152 pages].The American university in Cairo press


2.Bruce Redwine 2010
Haag's Many Alexandrias
Arion Vol.17.3 Winter 2010


3. Flickriver: alexandria42's photos tagged with alexandria


4. AAHA = Amicale Alexandrie Hier et Aujourd'hui : www.aaha.ch

  • Category

  • Song

  • Artist

    • Various Artists
  • Album

    • The Greek Wedding -
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • The Orchard Music (on behalf of FM Records), and 1 Music Rights Societies

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