By Peter Stothard
While Peter Stothard, editor of the days Literary complement, reveals himself stranded in Alexandria within the wintry weather of 2010 after his flight to South Africa has been cancelled, he units out to discover a kingdom near to revolution. Guided by way of local Egyptians, Stothard lines his personal life-long curiosity within the background of Cleopatra, and his repeated failure to put in writing the ebook approximately her that he had continually sought after to.
In Alexandria, half memoir and half commute literature, Stothard used to be the attractions and sounds of the traditional urban to reconnect with the formative stories of his youth schooling, and his literary profession. depression and infrequently funny, Alexandria bargains a first-hand glimpse into the fracturing police country of Hosni Mubarak, sooner than the rebellion in Tahir sq. replaced every little thing.
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Extra info for Alexandria - The Last Nights of Cleopatra
Next to this sat a collected Tennyson, in a spongy leather cover. On the shelf below was a cricket scorebook in which someone had copied improving philosophical precepts; and beside that, The First Test Match, a slim, slate-green hardback. This was the one of them that looked read and reread. The fifth book is the only one that is with me in Alexandria fifty years on, my Nottinghamshire grandfather’s copy of the second half of Virgil’s Aeneid, Books 7–12, with the name B. Stothard, in a firm, faded script, inside the flyleaf.
And what do I know about them to make me wait? The answer is still almost nothing except that they share an interest in one of the very few tourists in town. This interest may be official or entrepreneurial. It is hard to say. What they cannot know about me is that waiting with paper and pen at a table is what I am here to do. I am writing about Cleopatra for the last time. If, as Socratis suggests, this needs to be a day of caution lest al-Qaeda has begun an Egyptian campaign, there is no harm for me in that.
Euclid, the Alexandrian ‘Father of Geometry’, was the best and only Greek. Physics was the first step to a working future, a future in paid employment in a world which itself worked well. Many Rothmans pupils with no aptitude at all for figures – who could draw a dive-bomber but never do equations – were pummelled onto numerical paths. Jill resisted. To my mother’s frustration she was a brilliant resistor, an early lesson to me of female will. But how possibly, asked our neighbour on the other side of the clay mountain, could anyone pull themselves up by any other route than mathematics?
Alexandria - The Last Nights of Cleopatra by Peter Stothard