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  • Examine the original source. Our first step will be to gather enough information from our primary source, the digitized copy of theoriginal Egyptian Red Book , to provide a basis for our research.
  • Search for a variety of sources. To get a sense of the research landscape, we will gather information about the primary charactersby searching the library catalog for resources that present different sides of the story.
  • Compare primary source materials. Once we have a practical understanding of the people, places and events in the work, we will beable to compare contemporary perspectives on them. At this point we will peruse primary sources in addition to "The Egyptian Red Book," such as parliamentary debates , newspaper articles, dispatches and letters.

Excavating the story from the red book

Our first cartoon, entitled "The Egyptian Puzzle," makes a bold statement and provides a few clues for us.

The interspersed text in the cartoon reads "The too late Govt. in Egypt." There are words scattered throughout, such as "war, GOM, Sec. for Foreign Affairs,Mahdi, the Nile," among others. The design of the cartoon references hieroglyphics, thus satirically locating the scene of the conflict in Egypt.

The preface elaborates the meaning of these terms a bit.

“I CONSIDER that every moment's delay in preparing an expedition diminishes Gordon's chances of escape. I think that the Government willultimately, but too late, send a relieving force, not because Mr Gladstone wishes it, but because public indignation will compel him, nolens volens, to doso; and, little as the Prime Minister may value Gordon, the Prime Minister cares a great deal for Mr Gladstone. The danger to Gordon is owing to the dawdlingpolicy of the Government, which never carries out to-day what it can put off till to-morrow. The more pressure is brought to bear upon Mr Gladstone to compelhim at once to commence preparations for an expedition, the better chance for Gordon's life. Every day wasted is one more nail in the coffin of himself andgarrison.” (The late COLONEL FRED. BURNABY, 16th May 1884.)
This quotation sets up the basic situation. It appears that the "Liberal Government," in relation to its "Egyptian policy," may be "too late" to save"Gordon" from deadly danger. A "Mr. Gladstone" appears to have some sort of leadership role in the Government, one favored by the "Prime Minister" over theneeds of Gordon, who is in possession of a "garrison," indicating his affiliation with the military. The "16th May 1884" is an active date in this story, the datethis letter was written by the now "late Colonel Fred. Burnaby," but a date at which time the Government was not yet "too late."

If the first cartoon in our work represents the Liberal government as "too late," then we may assume that Gordon met a sad fate. Our story would appear tocenter on Gordon and his adventures in Egypt. But we don't know Gordon's first name, and it's not immediately clear what this pamphlet is all about. The essential termsfor a search for materials on this subject will be "Gordon" and "Egypt". Let's take a look at what the library catalog can locate with these terms alone.

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Source:  OpenStax, Studying political satire: "the egyptian red book". OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2006 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10290/1.6
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