Yes, Ladies! The Man is a Cad…

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Maurice el-Milick was born in Tunis in 1899 to the lawyer Albert El-Milick. At some point in the 20th century they moved to Egypt and Maurice got a job as a Maths Professor. Throughout his twenties he published prolifically both works of mathematics and of literature. He even seems to have written a scientific study of the occult.

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El-Milick later moved to France and kept on living in his rather eccentric way. Instead of writing books, this 1949 Life Magazine profile shows him making “surfaces”.

Milick 1949 Life

A few years ago I found a copy of a curious book that he had written called “Yes, Ladies! The Man is a Cad….”

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It is a curious little pamphlet which seems to have been written first in Hebrew and then translated into French (presumably  by El-Milick). It was broadcast on Egyptian radio in 1930, though I can’t tell which language it was in.

It is exactly the kind of thing that this blog likes. Firstly, it is a curious piece of inter-war Egyptian ephemera. Secondly, its print history is complicated and quite interesting. El-Milick was not able to publish it in a conventional way. He decided to go about self-publishing it. To get it printed by a “typographer” would have been prohibitively expensive. So, he typed the 64 page essay out on his typewriter and found a man who could make a “zincographic” copy called Kalfa. So he managed to find an affordable way to distribute his thoughts.

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The result of this process was that the text is quite small on the folded A4 paper. El-Milick, though, even managed to make a virtue out of this fault and included an advert for a glasses shop in the back of the book. “If you are having trouble deciphering the letters in this book from a normal distance (45. cm), then you need glasses.”

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Everything about this book ticked all my boxes before I had even read it. Then, when I actually started to read it, I was less thrilled. “I am,” he says on the first page “an anti-feminist.” This book is a satire attacking the dangerous new social movement that was sweeping Egypt in the 1920s and 1930s: “feminism”.

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I have to admit that I cannot quite place the tone of this pamphlet. Obviously, it is supposed to be funny but is his anti-feminism all just an ironic gag or is that part serious. He does bring some (admittedly slightly weak) jokes to the feminist cause: Q: What’s stupider than an anti-feminist A: Two anti-feminists. I get the feeling, though, that he is genuinely baffled by this new beast called “feminism”. This is how he concludes:

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Exciting as this little pamphlet is, it also helps to hold me back from a whistful romanticisation of inter-war Egypt (something that I slip into quite easily).

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