Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922) was a member of the landed aristocracy well connected with the inner circle of late Victorian high society and high politics. He is known as a poet and a translator of Arabic poetry, as well as an adventurous traveller and an ardent anti-imperialist controversialist. He rates, in fact, as something of a precursor, and a fellow traveller, of J.A. Hobson. However, in the Seventies, at the beginning of his Arabophilia, he might have easily been mistaken for an ambitious patrician bent on making the East his ‘career’ (in the line of Disraeli’s Tancred) at a time when the decline of Turkish religious and political authority over Islamic lands seemed to open up exciting opportunities for nations which were not ‘afraid of growing great’, as well as for enterprising individuals. It was only in 1881-82, through his commitment to the Egyptian nationalists, that his vague political sympathies were reshaped into a coherent critical attitude towards British colonial policies. Focusing on his autobiographical writings, his poetry and other sources (published and unpublished), I examine the details of Blunt’s ‘political education’ from his orientalist beginnings to his reaction to Urabi’s Nationalist Movement and Britain’s involvement in its repression. I underline how Blunt’s conflicting class and personal allegiances (to the British government, to the British consular authorities in Egypt and to the Egyptian nationalist intelligentsia) sharpened his awareness of the complexities of the ‘informal empire’ and the contradictions of British ‘liberal’ foreign policy.

A 'Political Education': Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, the Arabs and the Egyptian Revolution (1881-1882)

VILLA, LUISA
2012

Abstract

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922) was a member of the landed aristocracy well connected with the inner circle of late Victorian high society and high politics. He is known as a poet and a translator of Arabic poetry, as well as an adventurous traveller and an ardent anti-imperialist controversialist. He rates, in fact, as something of a precursor, and a fellow traveller, of J.A. Hobson. However, in the Seventies, at the beginning of his Arabophilia, he might have easily been mistaken for an ambitious patrician bent on making the East his ‘career’ (in the line of Disraeli’s Tancred) at a time when the decline of Turkish religious and political authority over Islamic lands seemed to open up exciting opportunities for nations which were not ‘afraid of growing great’, as well as for enterprising individuals. It was only in 1881-82, through his commitment to the Egyptian nationalists, that his vague political sympathies were reshaped into a coherent critical attitude towards British colonial policies. Focusing on his autobiographical writings, his poetry and other sources (published and unpublished), I examine the details of Blunt’s ‘political education’ from his orientalist beginnings to his reaction to Urabi’s Nationalist Movement and Britain’s involvement in its repression. I underline how Blunt’s conflicting class and personal allegiances (to the British government, to the British consular authorities in Egypt and to the Egyptian nationalist intelligentsia) sharpened his awareness of the complexities of the ‘informal empire’ and the contradictions of British ‘liberal’ foreign policy.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/316255
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