Saturday, December 04, 2010

Napoleon's Egypt -- a significant quote

For students in history 3805, wrestling with the paper on Juan Cole's Napoleon's Egypt, And how to relate Egyptian attitudes to French ones, here's a quotation from pages 174-5:

The French employed public celebrations and spectacle both to commemorate Republican values and to instill a sense of unity with regard to revolutionary victories. Such "festivals reminded participants that they were the heroes of their own revolutionary epic." The universal wearing of the cockade, the flying of the tricolor, the intricate symbology of columns and banners, the impressive military parades and cannonades, all were intended to invoke fervor for the Revolution and the remaking of society as republic. That some of the French appear seriously to have expected the conquered Egyptians to join them in the festivities demonstrates how little they could conceive of their own enterprise on the Nile as a colonial venture. The greatest use of Republican ideology appears to have been precisely to hide that fact from themselves.

Depending on the exact point of view you are taking in your paper, this insight might be very useful. There are lots of examples in the book to back it up.

Update:  Page 204:

[During a revolt one French leader heard Bonaparte say,] "Shall we be the plaything of some hordes of vagabonds, of these Arabs whom one barely counts among the civilized peoples, and of the populace of Cairo, the most brutish and savage rogues who exist in the world?"

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