IN 1821 IN PICCADILLY, Giovanni Battista Belzoni staged a spectacular full-scale reproduction of royal tombs he had uncovered in the Valley of the Kings. Crowds of paying visitors milled through rooms at the Egyptian Hall, marveling at enormous stone artifacts and at colorful wall paintings replicating ancient Egyptian tomb interiors. About half a century later and around the globe, tens of thousands of guests, including many European luminaries, witnessed the grand 1869 opening of the Suez Canal and fêted the achievement of its chief engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps, with fireworks and extravagant feasts. The driving forces behind these exhibitions were very different — one was an entrepreneur’s packaging of ancient Egypt into a leisure excursion for Londoners, the other evidence of Egyptian acquiescence to European pressure for enhanced trading routes; one was available for a middle-class, fee-paying popular British audience; the other to specially invited international guests traveling thousands of miles — but both were public displays that rendered Egypt, past and present, into a cultural and visual commodity for the West. Dickens’s final, unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870), written during the excitement and controversy over the Suez Canal and drawing on both de Lesseps and Belzoni as partial models for the title character, is deeply aware of such Egypt-gazing, but Egypt’s presence within the novel is in fact highly unspectacular, almost invisible.