Journeys across Blankness
- Dislocating the Orient: British Maps and the Making of the Middle East, 1854-1921 by Daniel Foliard
Chicago, 336 pp, £45.00, April, ISBN 978 0 226 45133 6
On display in the Dutch House at Kew Gardens, the nursery of George III’s children, is a map copied by one of the royal infants from the jigsaws used by their governess, Lady Charlotte Finch, to teach them geography. It indicates, with affecting but spurious precision, the territorial boundaries of the 12 tribes of Israel, in what the children, like almost everyone else in the 18th and 19th centuries, called the Holy Land. When in 1856 the civil service tried to haul itself into the modern world by holding competitive entry examinations, candidates for junior clerkships in the education division were required to draw a map of old Palestine, ‘indicating the position of the Jewish tribes’.
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