Peernajmodin, Hossein (2002)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This study aims at investigating the representations of Persia in a number of canonical and non-canonical texts in English literature. The theoretical framework comes from Edward Said’s analysis of orientalism. It is argued that the case of Persia instances the heterogeneous and striated character of orientalism (‘representations’ rather than ‘representation’ in the title). It is shown that while a number of relatively similar set of motifs and topoi, mainly derived from classical tradition and contemporary travel writing, circulate in the works of the three Renaissance authors included (Spenser, Marlowe, Milton), they are differently inflected and serve different thematic and ideological purposes. It is also suggested that the somewhat nascent orientalism of these authors develops into a more fully-fledged one in Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh where a basically Romantic notion of Persia as an exotic land is overridden by its construction as a realm fallen to foreign domination and cultural dispossession so as to displace the poet’s radical political views. Finally, it is shown how the motifs and topoi teased out in the analysis of the matter of Persia in the works of the authors preceding James Morier find their characteristic form and their most effective articulation in his fiction, especially the Hajji Baba novels which arrogate the representation of the ‘real’ Persia. Central to the analysis is the point that though Said’s theorisation of orientalism is immensely useful, and essential, to any consideration of the orientalist canon, issues such as masquerading and displacing as well as the specificities of each text, of its context, and of the object of representation, compound the notion of orientalism as merely a mode of Western domination and hegemony.
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