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Title: From culture to empire : 'The Thousand and One Nights' Orientalist discourse and the invasion of Egypt in 1882
Author: Bastawy, Haythem
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 3518
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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My thesis is that fantasies and stereotypes about the Near-Eastern Orient in translations of The Thousand and One Nights were reflected in nineteenth-century English literature and art, effectively creating a cultural bias that ultimately influenced the decision to invade Egypt in 1882. William Blake's comment, 'Empire follows art not vice versa as Englishmen suppose' is significant in light of Edward Said's statement that, 'the great likelihood that ideas about the Orient drawn from Orientalism can be put to political use, is an important yet extremely sensitive truth.' I examine this sensitive truth by analysing stereotypes such as the despotic sultan, the effeminate entourage, the good liberator genie (European), the ineffectual indolent people and the lewd princess/sultana. Drawing on Derrida and Saussure, I trace the shifting signifiers used to refer to the Near East, from Saracen to Barbarian to Moor to Turk and ultimately Arab. I examine the further development of these stereotypes in the pseudo-Oriental genre, particularly William Beckford's Vathek (1782) and Byron's The Giaour (1813), then in examples of other forms, including Dickens's Hard Times (1854) and Ruskin's The King of the Golden River (1850). I argue that George Eliot's Adam Bede (1859) shows Egypt's ancient Biblical past being claimed alongside its 'modern' Nights-based counterpart, further supported by analysis of timeless deserts and inert Bedouins in paintings by Lewis and Dadd. The cultural constructions of the Arab developed thus far find their fruition in Disraeli's Tancred (1847), in which he expresses his colonial views. The novel is one mode of discourse he adopted, in the steps he put in place to fulfil his vision, and which I suggest influenced Gladstone's views on the subject in his published pamphlets, and in his annotations on his reading. I conclude by examining how Gladstone's decision to invade Egypt in 1882 was influenced by the very stereotypes - particularly of the despotic ruler and the indolent ineffectual people - which I trace from the beginning of the thesis through the Arabian Nights discourse.
Supervisor: Alyal, Amina ; Sayer, Karen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available