Advertisement

British Women Write the East after 1750: Revisiting a ‘Feminine’ Orient

  • Felicity A. Nussbaum

Abstract

Though European interest in the Orient derives from biblical, classical and medieval times, its most celebrated eighteenth-century manifestation, Galland’s Thousand and One Nights in English translation beginning in 1704 (published in four editions before 1712 and serialised by the London News in 455 instalments over three years), constitutes a significant cultural event. The collection of stories marks the beginning of the Oriental tale in English and presents a coherent, compelling way of imagining the Muslim East. This ‘Moorish fantasy’, as Shaftesbury termed England’s intoxication with alterity, was modulated after the Seven Years’ War had significantly widened the scope of British imperial power when ‘for the first time … in conquering Bengal, Britain achieved decisive land victories and subsequent authority over Islamic powers’.1 British interest in the East continued to proliferate into literature, travel accounts, and Oriental goods after 1750, but not without public alarm.

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Female Captive British Woman East India Company Male Tradition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Linda Colley, Captives (New York: Pantheon Books, 2002), p. 146.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Clara Reeve, The Progress of Romance (1785), in Bluestocking Feminism: Writings of the Bluestocking Circle, 1738–1785, ed. Gary Kelly, 6 vols (London and New York: Pickering and Chatto, 1999), V I.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A number of critics, including Srinivas Aravamudan, Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999),Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991)Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Harriet Guest, The Great Distinction: Figures of the Exotic in William Hodges’ Work’, in New Feminist Discourses: Critical Essays on Theories and Texts, ed. Isobel Armstrong (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), pp. 296–334,Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, ed., ‘On Alternative Modernities’, in Alternative Modernities (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2001), p. 51.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Balachandra Rajan, ‘Feminizing the Feminine: Early Women Writers on India’, in Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1999)Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context (London: Routledge, 1995);Google Scholar
  9. Lee Wallace, Sexual Encounters: Pacific Texts, Modern Sexualities (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Robert Mack, for example, in the introduction to Oriental Tales (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992),Google Scholar
  11. See also Srinivas Aravamudan, ‘In the Wake of the Novel: The Oriental Tale as National Allegory’, Novel 33 (1999), 5–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 11.
    Billie Melman, Women’s Orients: English Women and the Middle East, 1718–1918: Sexuality, Religion and Work (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), p. 316.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Nigel Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing 1770–1840: From an Antique Land’ (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Mita Choudhury, Interculturalism and Resistance in the London Theater, 1660–1800: Identity, Performance, Empire (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2000), pp. 109–31.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    John Barrell, The Infection of Thomas De Quincey: A Psychopathology of Imperialism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 8;Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ziauddin Sardar, Orientalism (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1999), p. 35.Google Scholar
  17. See especially Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    See Betty Joseph, ‘Gendering Time in Globalization: The Belatedness of the Other Woman and Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 21 (2002), 67–84,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Margaret Doody, ‘Frances Sheridan: Morality and Annihilated Time’, in Fetter’d or Free? British Women Novelists, 1670–1815, ed. Mary Anne Schofield and Cecilia Macheski (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1986), pp. 350–56,Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    See Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Selected Letters, ed. Isobel Grundy (London: Penguin, 1997).Google Scholar
  21. Betty Joseph, Reading the East India Company 1720–1840: Colonial Currencies in Gender (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003)Google Scholar
  22. Laura Brown’s formulation in Fables of Modernity: Literature and Culture in the English Eighteenth Century (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), p. 6.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    Khalid Bekkaoui has edited the British Library version, The Female Captive (Casablanca: Moroccan Cultural Studies Centre, 2003).Google Scholar
  24. 22.
    Linda Colley, The Narrative of Elizabeth Marsh: Barbary, Sex, and Power’, in The Global Eighteenth Century, ed. Felicity Nussbaum (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  25. 24.
    See Ketaki Kushari Dyson, A Various Universe: A Study of the Journals and Memoirs of British Men and Women in the Indian Subcontinent, 1765–1856 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1978).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Felicity A. Nussbaum 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felicity A. Nussbaum

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations