Representations of the East in English and French travel writing 1798-1882 : with particular reference to Egypt
The aim of the thesis has been to offer a comparative analysis of discourses within English and French travel writing in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of how the East was represented in this type of literature than that offered by Edward Said in his book Orientalism. The thesis considers the degree to which the latent racism and imperialism of western attitudes was universally expressed in this type of writing. While dates have been set for this study, the main reason for this has been to limit the vast body of archive material potentially relevant to its theoretical base. On occasion it has been necessary to step outside these dates in order to examine earlier eighteenth-century work or point out the relevance of this type of study to more recent western approaches to the East. The thesis shows a decline in the nineteenth century in popular belief in a fiction of the Orient as an imagined site of luxury and sensual indulgence, as travel writing countered this image with reports of real countries and peoples. The place of the aesthetic in French writing is considered here, as it offers a challenge to the more political perspective offered by Said. The thesis concludes by suggesting that there were other discourses in travel literature in this period which lie outside specifically racist and imperialist constructs, and therefore deepens and broadens the investigations undertaken by Said with reference to British and French travel writing of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.