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The Spell of Egypt

Robert Smythe Hichens

Book Overview: 

The author, a British journalist and novelist, is interested in the feel of the places he visits. He describes at length a visit he has made to Egypt, with emphasis on the emotional response the places generate.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Copts destroyed; wander through the deserted courts, desirous of looking upon the faces that have long since been hacked to pieces. A more benign spirit informs our world, but, alas! Hathor has been sacrificed to deviltries of old. And it is well, perhaps, that her temple should be sad, like a place of silent waiting for the glories that are gone.

With every step my melancholy grew. Encompassed by gloomy odors, assailed by the clamour of gigantic bats, which flew furiously among the monstrous pillars near a roof ominous as a storm-cloud, my spirit was haunted by the sad eyes of Hathor, which gaze for ever from that column in the first hall. Were they always like that? Once that face dwelt with a crowd of worship. And all the other faces have gone, and all the glory has passed. And, like so many of the living, the goddess has paid for her splendors. The pendulum swung, and where men adored, men hated her—her the goddess of love and loveliness. And as the h. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This isn't a bad book, but it's not a particularly good book either. I've read a fair bit about Egypt over the years (though I've never been there), and I found this rather dry in places. What I did enjoy was that it wasn't purely about Ancient Egypt, but included more recent, though still very o...more

This is a gorgeous book. Hichens' descriptions of Egypt's most famous monuments are painterly and poetic. More of a romantic evocation than a 'mere' travel book, he takes you back to a more relaxed and serene era of gentle exploration in which it was still possible to commune with the Great Pyram...more

Good, but limited, book

The author focuses on the feel of places, not their appearance or history. So the book has an odd tone. Pleasant if that's what you are looking for, but lacking meatiness if you are wanting more history.

A travelogue written in the early 1900s, I found this book very easy reading. Hichens captures the allure and mystery of Egypt as it was. In the opening Hichens asks the reader: "Why do you come to Egypt? Do you come to gain a dream, or to regain lost dreams of old; to gild your life with the dro...more

A good starter travel memoir. The author is able is beautifully describe his emotional connections with places he visited.

If only all travel books were written as beautifully descriptive as this one was!

“The Spell of Egypt†was written by Robert Smythe Hichens (1864-1950), an English journalist, lyricist, novelist, critic, and playwright. This book was publish