Published in 1672, the English translation of Murtada ibn al-Khafif's The Egyptian History contains a section on the romance of Gebir and Charoba that Landor knew via Clara Reeve's work.
By borrowing from this Islamic-hermetic tradition, Landor's Gebir shares a close affinity to the anticlerical historiographies written by radical Protestants and hermetic philosophers in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Given Landor's affiliation with early radical Protestantism, this essay argues that the political significance of esoteric and oriental motifs in Gebir needs to be reconsidered in relation to the genre of the oriental tale.
In comparing Landor's unorthodox views to Thomas Paine's deistic interpretation of the bible, the second half argues that Landor's appeal to Islamic-hermetic humanism in the 1803 edition of Gebir is, in effect, an attempt to forge a revolutionary, anti-colonial politics.
Originally appended to Poetry by the Author of Gebir (1800) and later removed for its potentially treasonable contents, Landor's supposed translation of the "Extract from the French Preface" voices outspoken support for Napoleon's Egyptian campaign during 1798-99.
The hermetic romance of Gebir and Charoba first appeared in John Davies' English translation of The Egyptian History (1672).
Faithful to Murtada's unorthodox account of biblical-Islamic history, Landor deploys the motif of Moses' Egyptian wisdom in Gebir.
31) Landor makes use of this Koranic motif even as he deviates from the Islamic and biblical accounts; Dalica takes a journey to Cairo with the purpose of concocting a magical potion to poison Gebir and save Queen Charoba.
35) Hence, the British Critic in February 1800, a periodical "intended to uphold the tenets of the Established Church and the Tory politics of the ruling government" (quoted in Elwin 70), attacked Gebir for its blasphemous views on Christianity.
This social vision is especially significant given that Tamar is the poor shepherd who, as the nymph prophecizes, will become the ultimate hero in the future, superseding the epic grandeur of King Gebir and his doomed people.
This trope of the New Jerusalem reemerges as part of the utopian vision found in Gebir.