In 1856, after traversing the frontiers of the New World past the Atlantic to the Pacific, Herman Melville ventured back, into “the republic of cousins,” the Old World of the Mediterranean Levant. The trip to Cairo and then Constantinople managed to stir something in him, a certain “spontaneity”:¹
To the Bazaar. A wilderness of traffic. Furniture, arms, silks, confectionary, shoes, sandals—everything. (Cairo). Crowded overhead with stone arches, with side openings.
Immense crowds. Georgians, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, & Turks are the merchants. Magnificent embroidered silks & gilt sabres & caparisons for horses.
You loose yourself & are bewildered & confounded with the labyrinth, the din,...