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The Arabian Nights in Historical ContextBetween East and West$
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Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554157.001.0001

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White Women and Moorish Fancy in Eighteenth‐Century Literature

White Women and Moorish Fancy in Eighteenth‐Century Literature

(p.153) 6 White Women and Moorish Fancy in Eighteenth‐Century Literature
The Arabian Nights in Historical Context

Khalid Bekkaoui

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws parallels between the English nation's fascination with The Arabian Nights and the rise of particular generic paradigms. Taking examples from Penelope Aubin and other 18th-century writers, it analyzes stories about captive English heroines and travelers who, intensely attracted to Moorish heroes, chose to remain with their Muslim lovers rather then returning to their conventional life at home. The sensual and luxurious appeal of the Orient is displaced onto European women whose intense attraction to Moorish heroes becomes a familiar trope. The East paradoxically offers greater social class mobility for European women in their ascent from slave girl to favored queen. Female renegades, the chapter argues, serve as vulnerable receptors of Eastern eschatologies and as signs of the West's failure to persuade itself of European sexual, religious, and cultural superiority. Situated in a textual battling ground for Western ideology, these captives and defectors reveal how troubled Europe becomes as it imagines sacrificing its profligate women to an imagined alterity.

Keywords:   Moor, captive, Aubin, Orient, sexuality, alterity, sultan, Roxalana, sultana, Muslim, Christian, harem

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