by Sylvia Modelski
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PORT SAID REVISITED
My tribute to Port Said (Egypt) was born out of a warm sentiment for a town that, as I knew it, has disappeared. Its successor on the map, today's Bur Said, is a different place and of another age.
The Suez Canal's Mediterranean port was founded in 1859. Ten years later, upon completion of the waterway, Port Said was the scene of the opening ceremony for the festivities that followed, rated by some as "the party of the centurey" (for which Verdi's Aida was originally commissioned). The Canal was part of universal hopes for planetary cooperation. It also was the focus of great power maneuvers and disputes over its control. Against this background I revisit the multicultural community of Port Said in the 1930s as seen through the eyes of a schoolgirl absorbed with her immediate surroundings and coping with the joys and fears of growing up. The Great Depression and a crescendo of crises in the run-up to World War II provide a muffled soundtrack for more mundane concerns.
This is the only book-length treatment of the city in English that I know. The literary neglect of Port Said is nothing new for the region of the north-east Nile Delta where ancient sites are only now being brought to light.
-- Sylvia Modelski
For more information on Port Said Revisited, visit the Faros 2000 web site.
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