Fictions of the East in England 1662-1785
By (author) Ros Ballaster
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Fabulous Orients by Ros Ballaster
Book DescriptionNarrative moves. Stories migrate from one culture to another, over vast distances sometimes, but their path is often difficult to trace and obscured by time. Fabulous Orients looks at the traffic of narrative between Orient and Occident in the eighteenth century, and challenges the assumption that has dominated since the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism (1978) that such traffic is always one-way. Eighteenth-century readers in the West came to draw their mental maps of oriental territories and distinctions between them from their experience of reading tales 'from' the Orient. In this proto-colonial period the English encounter with the East was largely mediated through the consumption of material goods such as silks, indigo, muslin, spices, or jewels, imported from the East, together with the more 'moral' traffic of narratives about the East, both imaginary and ethnographic. Through analyses of fictional representations (including travellers' accounts, letter narratives such as Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy, and popular sequences of tales such as the Arabian Nights Entertainments) of four oriental territories (Persia, Turkey, China and India), Ros Ballaster demonstrates the ways in which the East came to be understood as a source of story, a territory of fable and narrative. Fabulous Orients is structured according to territory rather than genre. Each section opens by re-narrating an oriental story in which a feminine character serves to 'figure' western desire for the territory she represents: the courtesan queen of the Ottoman seraglio Roxolana; the riddling Chinese princess Turandocte; and the illusory sati of India, Canzade. The book goes on to explore the range of fabulous writings relating to each territory in order to illustrate how certain narrative tropes can come to dominate its representation: the conflict between the male look and female speech staged in the seraglio in the case of Turkey and Persia, the inauthenticity and/or dullness associated with China and its products such as porcelain, and the illusory dreams that are woven in the space of India and associated with its textile industries. This is the first book-length study of the oriental tale to appear for almost a century. Informed by recent historiographical and literary re-assessments of western constructions of the East, it develops an original argument about the use of narrative as a form of sympathetic and imaginative engagement with otherness, a disinvestment of the self rather than a confident expression of colonial or imperial ambition.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780199267330
(223mm x 145mm x 26mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 20-Oct-2005
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Ros Ballaster
History of British Women's Writing, 1690-1750, Paperback (September 2010)
This volume, now in paperback, charts significant changes for a literary history of women in an era that saw the beginnings of a discourse of 'enlightened feminism', revealing that women engaged in forms old and new, seeking to shape and transform the culture of letters rather than simply reflect or respond to the work of their male contemporaries.
History of British Women's Writing, 1690 - 1750, Hardback (September 2010)
This volume charts the most significant changes for a literary history of women in a period that saw the beginnings of a discourse of 'enlightened feminism'. It reveals that women engaged in forms old and new, seeking to shape and transform the culture of letters rather than simply reflect or respond to the work of their male contemporaries.
Sense and Sensibility, Hardback (November 2008)» View all books by Ros Ballaster
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo.
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Author Biography - Ros Ballaster
Born in Bombay, India, in 1962, Ros Ballaster has had an abiding interest in eastern culture and narrative. She was a visiting Fellow at Harvard University 1988-89; Lecturer in English Literature at University of East Anglia 1989-1993; and Leverhulme Major Research Fellow 2000-2003. She is currently College and University Fellow in English Literature at Mansfield College, Oxford.
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