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South African Journal of Cultural History

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Die Kaapse Briewe van Lady Lucie Duff Gordon (1821-1869)

Schalk Le Roux

Abstract


The Cape letters of Lady Lucie Duff Gordon (1821-1869)


Letters from Egypt was published in 1865 and immediately became a critical and popular success. The letters, since republished from time to time in several editions (the last in 1997), relates the Egyptian sojourn and experiences of Lady Lucie Duff Gordon from 1862 until her death in 1869.


Her Letters from the Cape are less well known. They relate a similar record of a year-long stay in Cape Town and Caledon in the years 1861 to 1862. In this series of letters to her husband and her mother she relates the lifestyles, habits and ways of the Cape citizens and their rural cousins. Her impressions are critically astute and humane, not always historically accurate, but offer a fresh and uninhibited image of the Cape Colony in the Victorian period. There she became acquainted with the Muslims, their rituals and their sense of community and offers some of the first and most comprehensive descriptions of these ways and of their local mosques.


In this article a sketch of her life is presented, her experiences given synoptically and reasons sought for her predilection and empathy with the Cape Muslim community. In conclusion the enduring value and meaning of these letters are investigated.


Letters from Egypt is in 1865 gepubliseer en was onmiddellik 'n sukses by beide kritici en die algemene leserspubliek. Die briewe, wat sedertdien verskeie kere herdruk is (die laaste keer in 1997), verhaal die Egiptiese verblyf en wedervaringe van Lady Lucie Duff Gordon vanaf 1862 tot haar dood in 1869.


Haar Letters from the Cape is minder bekend. Hulle bied 'n soorgelyk rekord van 'n jaarlange verblyf in Kaapstad en op Caledon in die jare 1861 to 1862. In hierdie reeks briewe aan haar man en haar moeder vertel sy van die lewenwyse, gewoontes en gebruike van die Kaapse burger en sy plattelande eweknie. Haar indrukke is krities en mensgerig, nie altyd histories korrek nie, maar bied 'n vars en ongeïnhibeerde beeld van die Kaapkolonie teen die middel van die Victoriaanse tydperk. Sy raak nou betrokke by die Moslems, hulle rituele en hulle gemeenskapbewussyn en bied van die eerste en mees volledige beskrywings van hierdie gebruike en van die plaaslike moskees.


In hierdie artikel word haar lewe kortlike geskets, haar ondervinding in die land opsommenderwys bespreek en redes gesoek vir haar vooringenomendheid met en aanklank by die Moslemgemeenskap. Ter afsluiting word die briewe se blywende waarde en betekenis ondersoek.



SA Journal of Cultural History Vol.16(2) 2002: 25-45



http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sajch.v16i2.6339
AJOL African Journals Online