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date: 23 August 2017

Orientalism in the Victorian Era

Summary and Keywords

Orientalism in the Victorian era has origins in three aspects of 18th-century European and British culture: first, the fascination with The Arabian Nights (translated into French by Antoine Galland in 1704), which was one of the first works to have purveyed to Western Europe the image of the Orient as a place of wonders, wealth, mystery, intrigue, romance, and danger; second, the Romantic visions of the Orient as represented in the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Gordon, Lord Byron, and other Romantics as well as in Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh; and third, the domestication of opium addiction in Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

Victorian Orientalism was all pervasive: it is prominent in fiction by William Thackeray, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Joseph Conrad, and Rudyard Kipling, but is also to be found in works by Benjamin Disraeli, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, and Robert Louis Stevenson, among others. In poetry Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat is a key text, but many works by Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning also show the influence of Orientalist tropes and ideas. In theater it is one of the constant strands of much popular drama and other forms of popular entertainment like panoramas and pageants, while travel writing from Charles Kingsley to Richard Burton, James Anthony Froude, and Mary Kingsley shows a wide variety of types of Orientalist figures and concepts, as do many works of both popular and children’s literature. Underlying and uniting all these diverse manifestations of Victorian Orientalism is the imperialist philosophy articulated by writers as different as Thomas Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx, supported by writings of anthropologists and race theorists such as James Cowles Pritchard and Robert Knox.

Toward the end of the Victorian era, the image of the opium addict and the Chinese opium den in the East End of London or in the Orient itself becomes a prominent trope in fiction by Dickens, Wilde, and Kipling, and can be seen to lead to the proliferation of Oriental villains in popular fiction of the early 20th century by such writers as M. P. Shiel, Guy Boothby, and Sax Rohmer, whose Dr. Fu Manchu becomes the archetypal version of such figures.

Keywords: the Orient, the East, imperialism, empire, exoticism, fantasy, stereotypes, opium, Orientalism

Edward Said and the Discourse of Orientalism in the Victorian Era

Edward Said’s Orientalism offers several productive avenues for approaching the many different forms of Orientalism in the Victorian era. As Said says in his introduction to Orientalism, Orientalism can mean many different things. He specifies three main meanings: the academic study of the Orient, “a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) ‘the Occident,’” and finally, beginning in the late 18th century, a “corporate institution for dealing with the Orient,” that is, “dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it,” and so on.1 That is, the Western taste for the exotic, already well established in the 18th and early 19th centuries, developed alongside Britain’s imperial ambitions and projects. As Said says, “an Oriental world emerged [which was] governed not simply by empirical reality but by a battery of desires, repressions, investments, and projections.”2 Hence the taste for the exotic, imperial projects, and the complex relation between them took many different forms to be found in the enormous variety of political, literary, artistic, and architectural responses to the Orient in the Victorian period. Said returns to the variety of possible types of Orientalist writing later when he offers the opposition between latent and manifest Orientalism, defining latent Orientalism as “an almost unconscious … positivity” that emphasized the Orient’s separateness, “ its eccentricity, its backwardness, its silent indifference, its feminine penetrability, [and] its supine malleability,” while seeing manifest Orientalism as “differences in form and personal style.”3 But this distinction does not seem to do justice to the variety of attitudes to the Orient to be found in the Victorian era, and the same can be said of Said’s earlier statement to the effect that “every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.”4 Even discounting the fact that the statement totally ignores women writers, there is a large range of perspectives, impulses, and agendas in Victorian Orientalism that cannot be reduced to differences of form and style. Said is on safer ground, however, when he observes that the distance between the Occident and the Orient was often “expressed in metaphors of depth, secrecy, and sexual promise,”5 or when he proposes that many types of Orientalist representation rely on the “textual attitude,” whereby a phenomenon is perceived through its textual representations rather than its objective reality.6 Similarly, his points that much Orientalist writing emphasized “lost, past classical Oriental grandeur” as opposed to the Orient’s contemporary decadence or barbarism, and that Orientalism produced not only “a fair amount of exact positive knowledge about the Orient but also a kind of second-order knowledge,” what might be called “Europe’s collective daydream of the Orient,”7 are valuable and suggestive. However, the daydream took many forms, and not all were equally racist, imperialist, or ethnocentric.

The “corporate institution” of Orientalism Said identifies as emerging in the late 18th century and dominating the 19th existed in a symbiotic relationship with imperialism; in the Victorian period, the two cannot be easily disentangled, as Said was to go on to demonstrate in Culture and Imperialism,8 and as a text like Thomas Babington Macaulay’s 1835 “Minute on Indian Education” shows. Moreover, the imperial project emphasized the sense of Western superiority to Oriental cultures that already characterized 18th-century Western conceptualizations of the East and that is described by Said as the view that Westerners are “rational, peaceful, liberal, logical, capable of holding real values, [and] without natural suspicion,” while those from the East are “none of these things.”9 Generally, three versions of Orientalism dominate in Victorian literature: exoticist Orientalism, imperialist Orientalism, and Orientalism used as part of a critical perspective on Victorian society itself.

Another area that has emerged recently in relation to 19th-century Orientalism in literature is that of Irish studies, where works by Paul Delaney, Jim Hansen, Joseph Lennon, and Emer Nolan have focused on texts by Maria Edgeworth, Edmund Burke, Thomas Moore, Sheridan Lefanu, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde, among others, demonstrating that these writers’ works often have a perspective on Orientalism which differs from that of their English counterparts.

Emily A. Haddad has emphasized somewhat different aspects of Victorian Orientalism in relation to poetry/travel writing; her argument complements and develops Said’s. Haddad argues, in relation to Victorian poetry, that “[t]he Orient’s single most important trait is its ontological unnaturalness.”10 In relation to art, Linda Nochlin and Rana Kabbani have both developed some of Said’s ideas. Nochlin’s essay, “The Imaginary Orient,” a version of which originally appeared in 1983, acknowledges its debt to Said and argues that Orientalist paintings, notably those of Jean-Léon Gérôme and Eugène Delacroix, can and should be analyzed in terms of the “political domination and ideology” of imperialism, and that they reproduce standard tropes, like that of “the mystery of the East,”11 while occluding the context of Western power and the Western gaze. She provides three different versions of the “ideologization” of artistic forms, would-be realist depictions with their “authenticating details” (which can also articulate Western criticism of Islamic society), the painting as a “fantasy space” onto which fantasies of power and sexual domination are projected, and paintings as works that demonstrate the will to “ethnographic exactitude.”12 As Nicholas Tromans says, Nochlin’s essay “has enjoyed an afterlife … scarcely less prolonged than Orientalism itself,” which, he argues, can only be explained by the fact that nobody (including Nochlin) has “ever extended the ambitions of that article to the length of a full book.”13 Kabbani puts the emphasis on the Orient’s promise of “a sexual space … an escape from the dictates of the bourgeois metropolis.”14 Although Kabbani develops one of Said’s more debatable points, the association between “the Orient and the freedom of licentious sex” or “a different type of sexuality, perhaps more libertine and less guilt-ridden,” and although Haddad and Kabbani perhaps both overstate their points somewhat, their ideas and those of Nochlin are useful complements to Said’s analysis.15

18th-Century Origins: The Arabian Nights, the Romantics’ Vision of the Orient, and Opium

Orientalism in the Victorian era has origins in three main aspects of 18th-century and Romantic European and British culture: first, the 18th-century fascination with the Arabian Nights; second, the English Romantic poets’ visions of the Orient, as well as those of Thomas Moore in Lalla Rookh (1817), James Moirier in the Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824), and those in some of Sir Walter Scott’s novels; and third, the depiction of opium addiction in a English context in Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821). But the Orientalist linguistic and cultural scholarship of William Jones, and William Carey, and the Indian “Orientalists”’ appreciation of Indian cultures were also significant factors; Jones established the Asiatic Society of Bengal (the equivalent of England’s Royal Society) and published extensive studies of Indian laws, culture, and languages, as well as translations from Sanskrit and Persian, while Carey was a linguist, printer, and missionary in India. These literary and cultural phenomena must be seen in the light of Victorian imperialist expansion and racial theories, as well as events like the abolition of slavery (1833), the Indian Mutiny (1857–1858), and the Governor Eyre controversy (1865), which also influenced Victorian perceptions of the Orient. Moreover, imperialism played a key role in making Oriental locations, objects, and products available for consumption by the inhabitants of Britain, most obviously through such phenomena as the Great Exhibition, but also through forms of popular entertainment like panoramas and dioramas, shows of exotic peoples, exhibitions of alien cultures, museums, and entertainment venues, and the importation of Oriental commodities.

The Arabian Nights or The Thousand and One Nights was a key text in purveying to Western Europe the image of the Orient as a place of wonders, wealth, mystery, intrigue, romance, and danger; it was translated into French by Antoine Galland in 1704–1717, and thereafter translated many times into English in the 19th century, notably by Edward Lane (1838–1841) and Richard Burton (1885–1886), among others.16 The work gradually came to be seen as a book for children, perhaps partly because, as Ross Ballaster speculates, in the period of imperialist expansion, “Oriental empire increasingly came to be identified as a primitive model of government superseded by new forms of European colonialism.”17 Certainly both William Wordsworth and Alfred Lord Tennyson recall the pleasure of reading the stories in their youth,18 and Dickens, who refers to the Nights very frequently, often associates them with both the world of the marvelous and the innocence and happiness of childhood.

The influence of The Arabian Nights was supplemented by that of such Romantic works as George Gordon, Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812, 1814, and 1816) and his six Turkish Tales: The Giaour (1813), The Bride of Abydos (1814), later the subject of an 1857 painting by Eugène Delacroix), The Corsair (1814), Lara (1814), The Siege of Corinth (1816), and Parisina (1816). These are noteworthy for the Byronic hero, but also for their treatment of Islam. The Giaour is told partly from an Islamic viewpoint,19 while The Bride of Abydos, set in the court of the Turkish Sultan, is a tale of palace intrigue, male rivalry, sex, and danger, the same elements that will later characterize Cantos V and VI of Byron’s Don Juan, which take place in the Sultan’s harem in Constantinople. Both Selim, the piratical chief in The Bride of Abydos, and Conrad, the protagonist of The Corsair, are given Islamic backgrounds and cultures. As Peter Cochran argues, all of Byron’s Turkish Tales owe a debt to William Beckford’s Vathek (1786), of which he was a great admirer and which was reprinted later in the same year that The Siege of Corinth was published, that is, 1816.20 Moreover, as Nigel Leask argues, Byron’s Turkish Tales represent a historical change in Europe’s relation to the East. By the second decade of the 19th century, he argues, “European orientalism, like European colonialism” had become a part of “the civilizing mission … [and] the expansionist dependence on colonial markets.”21

Other Romantic authors to use Oriental settings were Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Thomas Moore, and James Moirier. Southey’s Thalaba the Destroyer (1799) and The Curse of Kehana (1810), according to Peter Cochran, were designed to provide Islam and Hinduism respectively with the epics supposedly lacking in their cultures.22 Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” completed in 1797 but not published until 1816, and Shelley’s The Revolt of Islam (1817), too, show the impact of Orientalism, although more cursorily; as Shelley said in a letter to his publisher of October 1817, “The scene is supposed to be laid in Constantinople and modern Greece, but without much attempt at minute delineation of Mahometan manners.”23 In Lalla Rookh, the eponymous heroine of the frame narrative is the daughter of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, who is engaged to the young king of Bukhara (the site of one of Matthew Arnold’s Orientalist poems). On her journey to meet him, she falls in love with Feramorz, a poet in her entourage, and the poem consists largely of four interpolated tales with Oriental themes sung by the poet: “The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan,” “Paradise and the Peri,” “The Fire-Worshippers,” and “The Light of the Harem.” When Lalla Rookh enters the palace of her bridegroom, she discovers that Feramorz is in fact the king to whom she is engaged. The frame narrative, the Oriental setting, and probably the happy ending made Moore’s work very popular among the Victorians: Dickens, for example, was a great fan of Moore’s and referred to the poem several times in his novels.24 But the romance can also be seen as at least partly allegorical: as Joseph Lennon argues, “the Ghebers in ‘The Fire-Worshippers’ represent the rebellious Irish, hounded by the invading Muslim and British forces,” and in one of the notes to “The Paradise and the Peri,” Moore glosses the word “liberty” insisting that it applies “to that national independence, that freedom from the interference and dictation of foreigners, without which, indeed [sic] no liberty of any kind can exist,”25 suggesting the influence of Moore’s Irish origins on his version of Orientalism. Another equally influential work was Moirier’s Adventures of Hajji Baba, a novel disguised as a travel book, supposedly narrated by the Persian Hajji Baba and, like Lalla Rookh, using the device of the frame tale typical of The Arabian Nights. The Persian narrator of Lalla Rookh anticipates the later ventriloquistic Orientalism (the use of Oriental speakers in poetry and, more rarely, prose) in works by Philip Meadows Taylor, Robert Browning, Rudyard Kipling, and others. Finally, as Peter L. Caracciolo has demonstrated, several of the novels of Sir Walter Scott reveal the influence of the Nights in their images, allusions, and motifs.26

Some of Thomas Moore’s other works, notably his Irish Melodies, published between 1808 and 1834, and his novel, Captain Rock (1824), offer a distinctively Irish take on the Orientalist perspective. In many of the Irish Melodies, Ireland is portrayed as divided between a heroic distant past of resistance to foreign invasion and a much more banal and unheroic present. “The Minstrel Boy,” for example, ends, “Thy songs were made for the pure and free, / They shall never sound in slavery!" while “The Harp that Once through Tara’s Hall” ends: “Thus Freedom now so seldom wakes, / The only throb she gives / Is when some heart indignant breaks, / To show that still she lives.”27 Emer Nolan argues that “Moore in effect consigns both the heroism of ancient Ireland and the United Irishmen’s brand of revolutionary activism [embodied in the 1798 rebellion] to the past,” and that he evokes “Ireland’s semi-historical, semilegenday past, but it is not a past that proves usable in any clear way,” so that “The history of Irish resistance is thereby converted into cultural opposition.”28 Moore’s contrast between a grand and heroic past and a degenerate present is also, somewhat ironically, one of the common Orientalist tropes that Said identifies in the description of non-European places and peoples by Europeans. In Moore’s case, it is the colonized subject himself who uses the tropes, and although he drew the inspiration for his songs from Irish folk culture, he, along with his collaborator, John Stevenson, arranged them “for the pianofortes of ‘the rich and the educated’” in both England and Ireland.29 Moore’s novel, Captain Rock, is a different matter. The novel’s title is derived from the generic name for the anonymous perpetrators of countless acts of insurgency against the British in Ireland, and draws on “the Irish folk tradition of the heroic bandit” (perhaps similar to the English tradition of the popular highwayman in Newgate novels), but a bandit who becomes a “transindividual subject whose history is offered as the key to the history of the nation,” so that he becomes “an expression of communal identity.”30 Both Moore’s novel and his Irish Melodies were well received in England and Ireland, and although they predated the Victorian period, their influence was long lasting.

The final element to influence the development of 19th-century Orientalism was Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater. The text portrays Eastern figures and cultures as dangerous to both life and sanity, notably in the figure of the Malay who inexplicably turns up on the narrator’s doorstep and who is described as “ferocious looking”: the Oriental man is reduced to a collection of body parts, with “small, fierce, restless eyes, thin lips, [and] slavish gestures and adorations,” and he is stereotyped as being “used to opium.”31 The Malay haunts De Quincey’s dreams and is the occasion for a more generalized condemnation of “Asiatic things … institutions, histories, modes of faith, &c.” in which the author amalgamates China, “Indostan,” and Egypt as sources of potential madness; finally De Quincey describes the crocodile that haunts him “for centuries,” and its effects on him: “I … sometimes … found myself in Chinese houses, with cane tables, &c. All the feet of the tables, sophas, &c. soon became instinct with life: the abominable head of the crocodile, and his leering eyes, looked out at me, multiplied into a thousand repetitions: and I stood loathing and fascinated.”32 The passage suggests John Jasper’s opium dream at the beginning of Dickens’s Edwin Drood, but also the tendency of inanimate things in Dickens’s novels to become animate, and, more generally, the Victorian fascination with things Oriental and the tendency, in Victorian fiction, for “domesticity, the Gothic, and Orientalism [to] spectacularly coincide.”33

Charles Dickens: From The Arabian Nights to the Opium Den

In many ways, Dickens’s writings may be taken as representative of several of the broader trends in Victorian Orientalism, notably in his use of allusions to the Arabian Nights and James Ridley’s Tales of the Genii in his writings, in his references to the opium trade, the opium den, and the opium addict, and in his (often satirical or ironic) evocations of non-European peoples and places. Dickens’s works reveal a remarkable familiarity with The Arabian Nights. As Michael Slater observes, the allusions to the Arabian Nights and the Tales of the Genii work in two main ways: they either “evoke a sense of the marvelous, whether it be charming and beautiful or grim and terrible,” or they make a satirical point.34 Dickens uses such allusions to exemplify his protagonist’s capacity for wonder and/or to emphasize how such tales may function as a source of consolation for children and adults in difficult times. Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1843), revisiting his childhood self abandoned at Christmas at school, declares “in ecstasy” to the Ghost of Christmas Past, “It’s dear old honest Ali Baba”; Tom Pinch in Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), seeing books in a shop window, is reminded of “the Persian Tales,” of “Abudah, the merchant, with the terrible little old woman hobbling out of the box in his bedroom,” and of “the mighty talisman—the rare Arabian Nights—with Cassim Baba … hanging up, all gory, in the robbers’ cave,” and thus he remembers “the happy days before the Pecksniff era”; and the eponymous hero of David Copperfield (1850) declares that “the Arabian Nights, and the Tales of the Genii” were among the books that “kept alive [his] fancy” and his hope of escaping the punitive Murdstone regime.35 With Scrooge and Tom Pinch, the allusions also function as a touchstone for their moral status, as Slater notes.36 The story, “The Ghost in Master B.’s Bedroom,” that Dickens contributed to The Haunted House, the 1859 Christmas Book for Dickens’s journal, All The Year Round, shows Dickens exploiting the exotic setting and characters of The Arabian Nights (the harem, the Sultan as the Commander of the Faithful, the “Favourite,” “the Fair Circassian,” and “Mesrour, the celebrated chief of the Blacks of the Harem”) while at the same time emphasizing the childish innocence of the child’s fantasy (by neglecting to mention that the “Blacks of the Harem” were eunuchs, for example, and by downplaying the sexual implications of the seraglio),37 thereby perhaps contributing to the transformation of the Nights into reading matter for children. Finally, a major plot twist in Great Expectations (1861) is signaled through an allusion to one of the Tales of the Genii, “the Eastern story,” of “The Enchanters; or, Misnar the Sultan of India,” when Pip is shown to be unaware of the disaster about to unfold with Magwitch’s return toward the end of volume two.38

In Dickens’s fiction and journalism, Oriental allusions are sometimes used to criticize society. For example, in the articles “The Thousand and One Humbugs,” “The Story of Scarli Tapa and the Forty Thieves,” and “The Story of the Talkative Barber” (all published in 1855), allusions to or parodies of the Arabian Nights satirize parliamentary proceedings, aristocratic dominance of power, and Lord Palmerston, respectively.39 Dickens also uses the opium trade and opium addiction for critical purposes. Society’s hypocrisy and destructiveness can be seen in the figures of the opium addicts, Nemo in Bleak House (1853), and, more centrally, John Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870); the latter novel also contains the depiction of the opium den with its Chinese-looking English mistress, the Princess Puffer. Hypocrisy in business is the target of Dickens’s use of the Chinese opium trade in the background to the Clennam family business in Little Dorrit (1857),40 while in Our Mutual Friend (1865), when Bella Wilfer imagines her father sailing to China “to bring home opium, with which he would forever cut out Chicksey Veneering and Stobbles,”41 Dickens targets the lack of morality as well as substance in British business. His works thus provide a transition from Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” and De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater to Tennyson’s “Lotos-Eaters,” Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and now-neglected works that were very popular in their day, like Guy Boothby’s Dr. Nikola series and Sax Rohmer’s Fu-Manchu novels.

Dickens’s journalism offers examples of key Orientalist tropes such as the Noble Savage, the unchanging and regressive Chinese Empire, or the savagery of non-European races, emphasizing the last of these especially after the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Generally Dickens strikes a pose of European superiority, although on occasion he uses the foreign to mock certain aspects of British life as he does in the essay “Medicine Men of Civilization.” Dickens’s ironic or satiric use of references to non-European races is to be found (among other places) in the essays “The Niger Expedition” (1848), “The Chinese Junk” (1848), “The Noble Savage” (1853), and “The Lost Arctic Voyagers” (1854); it also characterizes the short story “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners” (1857), written with Wilkie Collins in response to the Indian Mutiny; and the depiction of Mrs. Merdle in Little Dorrit. Such works show that Dickens homogenizes all non-European races as inferior to Europeans, whether they be African, Inuit, Chinese, mulatto (in “Perils”), or South Sea Islanders (in Little Dorrit). However, in American Notes (1842), the Choctaw chief, Pitchlynn, is represented through the lens of Romantic primitivism as a gentleman “of Nature’s making,”42 perhaps indicating the role of class in partially negating the negative influence of Dickens’s vision of non-European races. Dickens also evokes India and other imperial possessions in Dombey and Son and elsewhere. Britain’s overseas missionary activities also come in for satirical treatment, as in the drunken and philandering minister, Mr. Stiggins, in The Pickwick Papers (1837), the articles “The Ladies Societies” (1836) and “The Niger Expedition” (1848) and, more famously, Mrs. Jellyby and the Borrioboola-Gha scheme in Bleak House.

Finally, in Dickens the empire functions as a place of last resort or of a second chance for characters who do not fit into English society: India is the destination of the surgeons-to-be Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen in The Pickwick Papers and of Jack Maldon in David Copperfield, while at the end of The Pickwick Papers Jingle and Job Trotter are packed off to the West Indies, which is also the (temporary) destination of Walter Gay before he and Florence embark for China toward the end of the novel in Dombey and Son (1848).43 In later novels Mr. Clennam Senior lives and trades in China, and in Great Expectations Pip and Herbert Pocket are merchants in Egypt, which is also the intended destination of Edwin Drood, although of course he never gets there. Australia receives both transported criminals like Alice Brown in Dombey and Son and Magwitch in Great Expectations as well as more respectable colonists like the Micawbers, Mr. Peggotty, Little Em’ly, and Mrs Gummidge at the end of David Copperfield. The very multifariousness of Dickens’ engagement with matters Oriental means that his writings can be taken as representative of some of the main directions that Orientalism was to take in the Victorian era as a whole.

Orientalism in Victorian Poetry

Orientalism in Victorian poetry is a predominantly male domain. Apart from the various incidental Orientalizing references in poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and a few other women poets,44 it is in Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edward Fitzgerald (especially in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1859),45 Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, and Rudyard Kipling that Orientalist elements are to be found. Tennyson, Fitzgerald, and Arnold were influenced both by Orientalist (especially Persian) scholarship and by the works of travelers to the East, just as their Romantic predecessors had been.46 In analyzing Orientalism in Victorian poetry, Chris Bongie’s distinction between “imperialist and exoticizing exoticism47 (the word “exoticism” is effectively a synonym for Orientalism) is useful. Imperialist exoticism “affirms the hegemony of modern civilization over less developed, savage territories,” while exoticizing exoticism “privileges those very territories and their peoples, figuring them as a possible refuge from an overbearing modernity.”48 Some of Tennyson’s poetry (notably after he became Poet Laureate in 1850) bears the imprint of imperialist exoticism or imperialist Orientalism, and indeed this aspect of Orientalism is more marked in Tennyson than in other Victorian poets, at least until Kipling. But many poems by Tennyson, Fitzgerald, and Arnold are characterized by exoticizing exoticism (which I shall call exoticizing Orientalism), that is, the use of Oriental themes and settings as images of an alternative to or an escape from a rapidly evolving capitalist society. This second type of Orientalism sometimes develops into a more explicit critique of Victorian society, as it does in fiction and travel writing.

Persia in Victorian Poetry: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam

Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Oman Khayyam is a key work in the field of Orientalist Victorian poetry. The poem, a “translation” of Omar Khayyam’s work that is in fact in many places a free adaptation of the original, is unusual in several ways: it was published anonymously,49 its Orientalism, as Daniel Karlin says, “began as a linguistic exercise, not a literary choice,”50 and, unlike much Orientalist writing, the poem suggests the possibility of combining East and West. The Rubáiyát can also be seen as a transition between Romantic Orientalism (with its connections to the Orientalist scholarship and translations of William Jones and others) and late Victorian skepticism and the philosophy of art for art’s sake, because it is characterized by the nostalgia for lost Oriental glory and heroism present in poets like Tennyson, Browning, and Arnold, and the Orientalist ventriloquism typical of many poems by Browning, as well as by the tendency for Oriental images to represent an alternative to the prosaic world of 19th-century Britain. But, paradoxically, and partly perhaps because of the affinity Fitzgerald felt with Omar Khayyam due to their shared nonconformity,51 the Rubáiyát was recognized by contemporary reviewers as representing certain aspects of the “thought and sentiment” of the Victorian age,52 notably in its religious skepticism, and the “materialistic Epicureanism” that Charles Eliot Norton identified in Fitzgerald’s conception of Khayyam.53 As David G. Riede notes with some qualification, Fitzgerald’s poem also looks forward to Swinburne’s “Laus Veneris.”54

Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát combines East and West in its poetic form: Khayyam’s discrete ruba’i (four-line poems or stanzas) are, in Fitzgerald’s own words, “‘tesellated into a sort of Epicurean Eclogue in a Persian Garden,’”55 that is, transformed into a more or less coherent narrative. The poem offers images of Oriental pleasure seen through the lenses of European carpe diem and 19th-century melancholy. Karlin argues that Fitzgerald was at pains to distinguish his work from the productions of the “‘excessive [sic] light and fragile Orientalism’” to which the author of the first (anonymous) review believed the poem belonged.56

Fitzgerald is also important as a translator of other significant Persian poems, such as the important Sufi poems Jámi’s Salámán and Absál (1856) and Attar’s Mantiq ul-teyr or The Conference of the Birds (1177–1178), on the second of which he worked for almost two decades but never published.57 Fitzgerald’s theory of translation seems to be split between two potentially contradictory imperatives: on occasion he argued that an Oriental text should be kept “as Oriental as possible,” but in The Rubáiyát he followed the opposing dictum that “a Thing must live: with a transfusion of one’s own worse Life if one can’t retain the Original’s better. Better a live sparrow than a stuffed Eagle.”58 Fitzgerald also relied on William Jones’s scholarship, notably his Persian–English grammar,59 and, in the representation of Persia in The Rubáiyát, he used Robert Binning’s travel book on Persia, A Journal of Two Years’ Travel in Persia, Ceylon, etc. (1857). In Fitzgerald’s “Preface” to the poem, he described Omar Khayyam as belonging to a time “before the native Soul of Persia was quite broke [sic] by a foreign Creed [Islam] as well as foreign Conquest [by the Selcuks],”60 thus demonstrating the common Victorian Orientalist tendency to relegate positive images of the Orient to the past.

In the Rubáiyát, the Orientalist theme of past glory is represented through famous historical and mythical Persian figures. Stanza V begins, “Irám indeed is gone with all its Rose, / And Jamshýd’s Sev’n-ring’d Cup where no one knows,” while stanza VIII declares that “this first Summer Month that brings the Rose / Shall take Jamshýd and Kaikobád away.”61 However, Fitzgerald places greater emphasis on present enjoyment rather than on the loss of the legendary heroic past: stanza IX advises the reader: “But come with old Khayyám and leave the Lot / Of Kaikobád and Kaikhosrú forgot; / Let Rustum lay about him as he will, / Or Hátim Tai cry Supper—heed them not.”62 Later, stanza XLIV is equivocal: it evokes “The mighty Mahmud, the victorious Lord,” and the “misbelieving and black Horde [of the conquered Indians].”63 But while Fitzgerald’s note to these lines states that “This alludes to Mahmút’s Conquest of India and its swarthy Idolaters,” the syntax of the stanza as a whole transforms the “misbelieving and black Horde” of the inhabitants of India into “the misbelieving and black Horde / Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul,” so that the allusion to a conqueror whose empire, according to Gibbon, “surpassed the limits of the conquests of Alexander” becomes also an invocation of Victorian ennui or melancholy.64

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tennyson’s poetry reveals his familiarity with the writings of William Jones and such travel works as Claude-Étienne Savary’s Lettres sur l’Egypte (1783, with an English translation in 1787).65 It also demonstrates the three types of Orientalism: the exoticist, the imperialist, and, occasionally, the socially critical. In the early exoticist poems, Tennyson’s use of Oriental images seems to fit Said’s description of Orientalism as “a free-floating mythology of the Orient,”66 while Tennyson’s imperialist or socially critical uses of Orientalism are more typical of his later works.67

Poems by Two Brothers (1827) and “Timbuctoo” (1829) generally evoke the loss of past Oriental glory, although “Timbuctoo” also undermines this glorifying Orientalizing vision when “keen Discovery” reveals the “brilliant towers” of “this fair City” to be “huts, / Black specks and a waste of dreary sand, / Low-built, mud-wall’s [sic], Barbarian settlements,”68 anticipating the ambivalent Orientalism of later poems like “Locksley Hall” (1842). Poems by Two Brothers focuses on the former glory of various Oriental empires,69 and the texts echo with the words “glory” and “splendour.” To take just two examples among many: “By An Exile of Bassorah” evokes “Bassorah! in splendour retiring,” its “majesty,” and “the bright glory” of its “pinnacles,” although the glory and splendor are lost to the speaker, and in “The Expedition of Nadir Shah,” the narrator mourns the destruction of Mughal Delhi, since “thy glory is past and thy splendour is dim.”70 Another leitmotif (and one to be found in incidental Oriental references in later Tennyson) is that of Eden; in “Persia,” for example, Tennyson describes the “blooming bower / Of Schiraz or of Ispahan, / In bower untrod by foot of man,”71 and in “The Expedition of Nadir Shah,” Mughal India before the Persians’ arrival is also Edenic.72 By contrast, a few poems evoke contemporary Oriental degeneration, like “Ignorance of Modern Egypt,” where “Science droops … / Beneath the Turkish despot’s hand,” or oppose the power of Biblical or classical Roman sources to the vainglorious boasting of the Egyptian Pharaoh, as in “God’s Denunciations Against Pharaoh-Hophra, or Apries.”73 There are also references to Hindu Gods—Cama, the Hindu God of Love, and Camdeo, the Hindi Cupid, attesting to the influence of Tennyson’s readings of William Jones.

“Recollections of the Arabian Nights” (1830), with its refrain celebrating “the golden prime / Of good Haroun Raschid,” continues the themes of past glory and Oriental exoticism through such tropes as “Bagdat’s shrines of fretted gold,” “the Persian girl,” the “solemn palms,” the “rich Throne of massive ore,” “the garden,” “the great Pavilion of the Caliphat,” and so on,74 and “To Ulysses” (1889) dedicated to the traveler W. G. Palgrave, also revisits these tropes.75 In some of these later poems, notably “You Ask Me, Why, tho’ Ill at Ease” (1842), Orientalist exoticism expresses a desire for escape from 19th-century England, which is presented as superior to the East, and yet unsatisfactory:76 England is the land of freedom, “settled government,” and greatness; nonetheless, the speaker ends by declaring “I seek a warmer sky, / And I will see before I die / The palms and temples of the South.”77

In later poems, Orientalist images become still more ambiguous. In “Locksley Hall” (1842) the Orient is both desired and feared by the speaker, “a fiercely disappointed young man whose beloved has married a lout rather than remaining faithful to him.”78 The East is first evoked as “yonder shining Orient, where my life began to beat,” a place of light and joy, but the speaker immediately describes the loss of his father in “wild Mahratta-battle,” which leaves him “a trampled orphan,” the ward of “a selfish uncle.”79 But then comes the Edenic Eastern fantasy: the speaker calls up “Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies, / Breadths of tropic shade and palms in cluster, knots of Paradise,” and “Summer isles of Eden lying in dark-purple spheres of sea,” never visited by “the trader,” which never see “an European flag,” where, he declares, “methinks would be enjoyment more than in this march of mind, / In the steamship, in the railway, in the thoughts that shake mankind.”80 There, he decides, “The passions cramp’d no longer shall have scope and breathing-space; / I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race.”81 But no sooner is the speaker’s “dream” or “fancy” expressed than it is dismissed as “wild,” since he “count[s] the grey barbarian lower than the Christian child”; it is therefore demeaning for a man like himself who is “the heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time” to mate “with a squalid savage.”82 He ends by stating, Macaulay-like, “Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.”83 The Orient seems to offer escape from modernization and technology, but this idea is quickly rejected as delusory: Western progress may not be comfortable, but it is inevitable.

The Princess (1847) and Maud (1855) continue the negative exoticist Orientalizing references. In the former, Princess Ida refers to women as “up till this / Cramp’d under worse than South-Sea-isle taboo,” and the Prologue lists “the curs’d Malayan crease [kriss], and battle-clubs / From the isles of palm” in the imperial clutter of Sir Walter Vivian’s stately home.84 In Maud (1855) the initial Arabian Nights allusion suggests a pleasurable exotic tale: the speaker sees his story as “an echo of something / Read with a boy’s delight, / Viziers nodding together / In some Arabian night,”85 and Maud is evoked as an example of Eastern grace in the synecdoche of “the delicate Arab arch of her feet.”86 But the poem’s Orientalism soon becomes more sinister. Maud herself is described as a dangerous Oriental femme fatale and associated, “Cleopatra-like,” with “coquettish deceit”; her brother is referred to as an “oil’d and curl’d Assyrian Bull,” and a “Sultan” whose “essences turn’d the live air sick, / [While] barbarous opulence jewel-thick / Sunn’d itself on his breast and his hands.”87 The Sultan image implies crass materialism, overbearing patriarchal power or despotism, and brutality, confirming the speaker’s earlier assertion that it is better to “keep a temperate brain” “Than to walk all day like the sultan of old in a garden of spice,” and rejecting the langorous, quasi-erotic images of the earlier Orientalist poems; finally the speaker joins a just war “in defence of the right” so that he can “hail once more to the banner of battle unroll’d.”88 The image of the banner recalls the later imperialist “The Defence of Lucknow” (1879), with its refrain of “And ever upon our topmost roof our banner of England blew.”89

The second major strand in Tennyson’s Orientalizing poetry is the imperialist vision, more obvious after he became Poet Laureate in 1850.90 “Ode Sung at the Opening of the International Exhibition, 1862” (1862) and “To the Queen” (1873) evoke the power of the British Empire, the “Ode” through the images of “Polar marvels, and a feast / Of wonder, out of West and East,” “To the Queen” in the references to “Our ocean-empire” and the Queen’s “throne / In our vast Orient.”91 “Montenegro” (1877) praises the Montenegrins as “warriors beating back the swarm / Of Turkish Islam for five hundred years,” and they are also described as “Chaste, frugal, [and] savage.”92 “The Defence of Lucknow” (1879) is written in sixteen-syllable lines that suggest the pace of marching soldiers, with the refrain, “And ever upon the topmost roof our banner of England blew”; it denounces the rebellious Indians laying mines as “murderous mole[s],” “dark pioneer[s],” and “our myriad enemy,” although two lines toward the end of the poem praise the loyal sepoys: “Praise to our Indian brothers, and let the dark face have his due! / Thanks to the kindly dark faces who fought with us, faithful and few.”93 “Locksley Hall Sixty Years After” (1886) invokes both the speaker’s Crusading ancestor, “the warrior, my forefather, with his feet upon the hound. / Cross’d! for once he sailed the sea to crush the Moslem in his pride,” and the contemporary politics of the “Great Game” in the words “Russia bursts our Indian barrier, shall we fight her? shall we yield?” It also refers to “Those three hundred millions under one Imperial scepter now” in the empire.94 “Akbar’s Dream” (1892) offers a plea for religious tolerance in the guise of the idealization of the Mughal ruler, Akbar, who declares, “I hate the rancour of their castes and creeds,” but then praises the British as the “alien race” who bring “Truth, / Peace, Love and Justice” to India by putting an end to the “Fires of Suttee, [and the] wail of baby-wife, / Or Indian widow.”95 Later short occasional poems like “The Opening of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition by the Queen, 1886” (1886) and “On the Jubilee of Queen Victoria” (1887), respectively, idealize the empire as “one imperial whole” and boast of “Fifty years of ever-widening Empire,”96 suggesting the development of the imperialist form of literary Orientalism in the works of Kipling.

Matthew Arnold

Like Fitzgerald and Tennyson, Arnold was influenced by travel writing and Orientalist historiography and scholarship,97 although as Hasan Javadi says, Arnold’s Orientalism was part of a broader “cultur[al] cosmopolitanism,” encompassing “Greek, Roman, and Oriental antiquity.”98 In some of Arnold’s poems, like “Inspired by Julia Pardoe’s The City of the Sultan” (written in 1838), “Mycerinus” (1849), and “The Strayed Reveller” (1849), the Orientalist imagery is little more than an exotic and incidental stage setting.99 Two early poems, “Constantinople” (written in 1839) and “Land of the East” (written in 1838), recall the early Tennyson’s exoticizing Orientalism; they evoke, respectively, the idea of “glories gone” in relation to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453,100 and to the conquest of Jerusalem by the Romans, where the speaker mourns the “palmy days of old, forsaken Israel,” where, now, “the triumphant Roman’s conquering race / Pollute[s] thine own Jehovah’s resting place” whose former glory is “Vanished.”101

But in other works by Arnold, such as “The World and the Quietist” (1849), “A Southern Night” (1861), and “Obermann Once More” (1867), Eastern wisdom and detachment become part of Arnold’s criticism of contemporary English—and by extension Western—society. Thus “The World and the Quietist” praises the detachment from the “activity” and the “passionate will” of the West in “these mournful rhymes / Learned in more languid climes,” and uses the Persian monarch, Darius, as an example of a ruler who wished to be constantly reminded of the limits (and perhaps the ultimate futility) of power.102 In relation to this poem, in “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time,” Arnold praises “the Indian virtue of detachment,” and he told Arthur Hugh Clough in a letter that he was “disappointed the Oriental wisdom [of the Bhagavad Gita] pleased you not.”103 “A Southern Night,” an elegy for Arnold’s brother, William, seems at first to use Oriental images simply as a stage setting when William, dying in Gibraltar, is seen as “With Indian heats at last foredone,” or when William’s wife’s grave is pictured in the shadow of “The snowy Himalayan mount,” but in the course of the poem the speaker also criticizes the unthinking materialism of people, including himself, who “pursue / Our business with unslackening stride” and “traverse in troops … / The soft Mediterranean side, / The Nile, the East, / And see all sights from pole to pole / … And never once possess our soul / Before we die.”104 Finally, in “Obermann Once More,” in the course of the rapid diorama of Western history that the poem offers, the speaker describes the reaction of the East to the Roman conquest: “The brooding East with awe beheld / Her impious younger world. / … The East bowed low before the blast / In patient, deep disdain; / She let the legions thunder past, / And plunged in thought again.”105 In this case, however, the insistence on the Orient’s version of William Wordsworth’s “wise passiveness” is followed by the assertion that the East is then saved by the “conquering, new-born joy” of Christianity, although, unlike Tennyson in Locksley Hall, Arnold does not attribute this salvation to British colonialism.106

Another poem, “The Sick King in Bokhara” (1849), suggests an equivocal attitude toward the East. The Islamic law involved in the story of the mullah is, as Emily A. Haddad says, “unforgiving, fearless, and harsh” in its insistence that the man (the mullah) who curses his mother must die (as the mullah himself asserts).107 But the poem also suggests that the Eastern ruler, the King of Bokhara, challenges this harsh morality. He tries to avoid sentencing the mullah to death, and, when forced to do so, he encourages his soldiers to let the man escape if he tries to (which he does not). Finally, the King complains, “And what I would, I cannot do,” and says that “[t]his man my pity could not save” will be buried in his tomb, and people will say, “[he] was not wholly vile, / Because a king shall bury him.”108 The Eastern King displays Christian-like pity and human feelings, and his words partially counter the critique of Eastern/Islamic law. Arnold’s interpretation of the monarch’s actions brings the poem close to the religious tolerance of Tennyson’s “Akbar’s Fane” or the openness to other religions and cultures of Browning’s Ferishtah’s Fancies.

“Sohrab and Rustum” (1853), Arnold’s most significant Orientalist poem, is so heavily dependent on a variety of sources and models109 that the editors indicate when an incident is Arnold’s own, as in Sohrab’s speech to Rustum toward the end of the poem, when he tells his father that he will “have peace” only when he returns “home over the salt blue sea, / From laying thy dear master in his grave.”110 Arnold’s main contribution is the poem’s heavy irony (which Javadi calls fatalism).111 There are many ironic moments: for example, when Sohrab decides to issue a challenge to single combat to the Persians, thinking that his father, Rustum, will hear of it, but unaware that the Persian champion will in fact be his father, or when Rustum wishes that he “had such a son” as Sohrab.112 Later, pitying Sohrab’s youth, Rustum appeals to him to “come / To Iran, and be as my son to me,” but then takes Sohrab’s question “Art thou not Rustum?” as a trick, seeing Sohrab as one of “these Tartar boys” who are “False, wily, [and] boastful,” the negative Orientalist stereotype adding to the irony of the father’s failure to identify his son.113 Other Orientalist elements includes the poem’s superfluity of epic similes, which Arnold declared that he “took a great deal of trouble to orientalize” to make them appropriate, but the comparison of Rustum to “some rich woman” looking at the “poor drudge” making her fire on a cold winter’s day is, as the editors say, a “vivid mid-Victorian image,” and is strikingly awkward.114 Near the end of the poem, in an Orientalist allusion that adds to the overall theme of past glory, like Fitzgerald in his Rubaiyat, Arnold refers to the ruins of “those black granite pillars, once high-reared /By Jemshid in Persespolis, to bear / His [Rustum’s] house” to evoke the grandeur of the final tableau of Rustum and his dead son.115 As in so much of the poetry of Tennyson and Arnold, the Orient is represented through its past.

Robert Browning, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Oscar Wilde

Browning’s poetry offers an unusual and ambivalent approach to the Orient. His dramatic monologues include a wide variety of speakers, both Christian European—English, Italian, Roman, Greek—and non-European: Jews, Arabs, and Persians.116 Two of the most important of Browning’s Orientalizing works are the plays The Return of the Druses (1843) and Luria (1846). Although they are nominally dramas, the first was rejected and never performed, and the second was not written for the stage,117 so they will be discussed as poetry. Both texts exploit and also partially undermine the usual binary oppositions between the West and the East, offering an ambivalent take on Orientalist perspectives.

Browning’s dramatic monologues dealing with Oriental subjects might be described as “Orientalist ventriloquism.” Many, like “Muleykeh” and “Clive,” occur in his later collection Dramatic Idyls, Second Series (1880), although there are also the earlier examples like “Through the Metijda to Abd-el-Kadr” (Dramatic Lyrics, 1842)118 or “Waring” (Dramatic Romances, 1845). They demonstrate Browning’s interest in Eastern (Arab or Persian) cultures. Gal Manor sees imperialist Orientalism in the poetry of Browning’s early and middle periods, like The Return of the Druses or Luria,119 compared to the more ambivalent vision of Ferishtah’s Fancies (1883). But The Return of the Druses already suggests ambivalence, and the openness to Persian culture and to Judaism and Islam that Manor sees in Ferishtah’s Fancies is also present earlier. Moreover, this openness is undercut to some extent in the late poems by the fact that Browning’s invention, the Hebrew-quoting Persian/Muslim sage, Ferishtah, is not seen as a contemporary but relegated to the past, a strategy that is typical of classical Orientalist thinking. Ferishtah’s Fancies can be compared to Tennyson’s Akbar’s Dream in its espousal of religious tolerance, although, unlike Tennyson, Browning does not go so far as to praise the British as a force for sweetness and light in the contemporary non-European world.120

“Waring” in Dramatic Romances (1845) provides a good example of Browning’s exoticizing Orientalism. The Orient appears first at the beginning of section 6 of part 1, when the narrator begins, “Ichabod, Ichabod, / The glory is departed!” and continues, “Travels Waring East away? / Who, of knowledge, by hearsay, / Reports a man upstarted / Somewhere as a god, / Hordes grown European-hearted, / Millions of the wild made tame / On a sudden at his fame?” and asks, “In Vishnu-land what Avatar?”121 The brief evocation of the East is remarkable (and unusual in Browning) in echoing Tennyson’s vision of peoples of different races united by the British Empire in the phrases “Hordes grown European-hearted” and “Millions of the wild made tame,” although the vainglorious boasting is undercut by several other elements in this part of the poem. The biblical allusion, “Ichabod, Ichabad, / The glory is departed,” refers to the naming of the son of Phinehas by his wife as a symbol of mourning for the capture of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4: 21–22), hardly a moment of glory, and the words “by hearsay,” and the repeated questions, which may not be simply rhetorical, cast doubt on the veracity and/or reliability of the image of imperial unity. In part 2, before the final invocation of the East as a land of infinite promise, the speaker introduces the second sighting of Waring outside England, near Trieste, as (seemingly) one of a group of locals or “long-shore thieves.”122 The narrator sees “the last / Of Waring!” and concludes, “Oh, never star / Was lost here but it rose afar! / Look East, where whole new thousands are! / In Vishnu-land what Avatar?”123 The poem ends with a double image of Waring, transformed into both an inhabitant of Trieste, with “great grass hat and kerchief black” and a “kingly throat,” and an incarnation of an unnamed deity, in the word “Avatar,”124 both exotic and decidedly un-English.

The Return of the Druses and Luria present encounters between Europe and the East. The Return of the Druses creates a complex multicultural and multiethnic world. The Druses (identified as Arabs but not Muslims), formerly in conflict with the Ottomans (referred to as “Osman”),125 are now oppressed by the Knights of Rhodes, and they turn to the Republic of Venice for aid against the Knights. Despite this implicit recognition of complex international relations, however, the play is structured around the familiar Orientalist oppositions of the superior West and the inferior East. For example, although Djabal realizes that the Breton knight, Loys, is capable of “[attaching himself] to what thou deemest / A race below thine own,” his words restate the familiar Orientalist binary opposition, even though they assert that Loys is an exception, and Loys himself criticizes the “serpentry” of the Druses.126 Conversely, while Djabal has previously explained that in their own estimation the Druses are “older than the oldest, princelier / than Europe’s princeliest race,”127 in the final scene, he resorts to more familiar stereotyping, declaring that he has been divided between his “Arab instinct” and his “Frank policy” because his “Frank brain” has been “thwarted by [his] Arab heart.”128 “As a Frank schemer or an Arab mystic,” he thinks, “I had been something,” but in fact “now, each has destroyed / The other,” and he does indeed kill himself.129 Browning may have wished to escape the East/West opposition, but his hero succumbs to it, as does Luria in the play of the same name.

Browning’s other Orientalizing play is Luria (1846). Like Othello, Browning’s play takes as its hero a Moor, Luria, in the service of the Republic of Florence. Like Othello, Luria is noble and utterly loyal to his foreign masters, but Luria’s self-identification is complex. At times he sees himself as a Moor, a creature of instinct and feeling rather than the reason and intellect that are associated with Europe/Florence, although elsewhere he reveals that he is also partially assimilated to European values, a contradiction that the play does not resolve.

In Luria, both the Orientalist opposition between West and East as one of reason versus feeling/brute strength, and the identification of Luria as an alien, are partially discredited because they are expressed most forcefully by the treacherous and double-dealing Florentine, Braccio. In act I Braccio describes Luria as “an utter alien here,” “a mercenary and a Moor” who has “No past with us, no future.”130 But, significantly, Luria himself also emphasizes his alienness, telling Domizia and Braccio that he is “Not one of you,” later calling himself “an alien force,”131 so that, confusingly, the familiar Orientalist binary is reconfirmed.

However, although Braccio declares, speaking of Luria, “Brute force shall not rule Florence! Intellect / May rule her, bad or good as chance supplies,”132 the opposition between the (potentially treacherous and evil) intellect of Florence and the brute force and feeling of the Moor is undermined by the fact that Luria is, at least in part, an assimilated Other. As early as act I, he states that he feels “the thrill / Of coming into you, of changing thus,-- / Feeling a soul grow on me that restricts / The boundless unrest of the savage heart!”133 Later he tells Tiburzio of the “firm-fixed foundation of [his] faith /In Florence,” emphasizing that “Life’s time of savage instinct [is] o’er with me,” and that his previous “desert creature’s heart” was often “at fault.”134 This assimilation is then partly contradicted, since in reaffirming loyalty to Florence at the end of act II, Luria avows to Tuburzio, “My simple Moorish instinct bids me clench / The obligation you relieve me from, / Still deeper!”135 So Luria both is and is not still a creature of “instinct” and thus of the East, as is revealed in another example in act III when he threatens Florence: “You will know all the strength / O’ the savage.”136 In act IV Luria suggests that his identification with Florence has been a mistake and a failure: “Ah, we Moors get blind / Out of our proper world, where we can see!” and by act V, after he has drunk the potion that will kill him, he declares that he was “born a Moor,” and although he has “lived half a Florentine,” now, “punished properly, [he] can end, a Moor.”137 He closes with a meditation on his double nature that recalls the Druse, Djabal’s, division between his “Arab instinct” and his “Frank policy,”138 suggesting that such hybridity cannot work. Luria contrasts the East and the North: the East is “nearer God,” a place where “man breathes nobly,” but it is also true that “the East’s gift, / Is quick and transient—comes and lo, is gone, / While Northern thought is slow and durable.”139 Luria thinks that his mission was to unite the two, but, like Djabal, he fails. Browning’s second dramatic attempt to transcend the East/West division results in contradictions and confusion.

Several of the poems in the Dramatic Idyls, Second Series, notably “Muleykeh” and “Clive,” develop a new use of Oriental images and perspectives.140 In “Muleykeh,” Browning presents a conflict between two Bedouins, Hóseyn and Duhl, over the eponymous mare, a conflict that ends when Hóseyn, ironically, tells Duhl, who has stolen “the Pearl,” Muleykeh, how to get the best speed out of the animal, because he cannot bear her to be beaten in a race, even if this means losing her, which he does; the poem ends with Hóseyn’s defending himself against his friends who mock him, as, weeping, he declares, “You never have loved my Pearl.”141 “Clive” presents a famous (and controversial) British hero, Robert Clive, who is initially represented by the speaker (a friend of the great man) as a patriot who conquered India: “he fought Plassy, spoiled the clever foreign game, / Conquered and annexed and Englished!”142 But the crux of the poem is the speaker’s inquiry about when Clive felt most afraid. There ensues a story of a card game during which Clive, then a young civilian, accuses a military man of cheating, and a duel, during which Clive misses his opponent only to be saved when the opponent admits that he did cheat at cards. The poem ends by evoking Clive’s suicide, and the speaker says, “If aught / Comfort you, my great unhappy hero Clive, in that I heard, / Next week, how your own hand dealt you doom, and uttered just this word / ‘Fearfully courageous.’”143 The speaker refuses to condemn the suicide and, indeed, describes it with the oxymoron, “fearfully courageous”; once again, Browning presents the imperial Orient from an unexpected and unheroic angle, contrasting greatly with the way Clive is presented in the essay by Macaulay, for example.

The twelve poems in Ferishtah’s Fancies (1884) take as their central character the Persian Shi‘ite sage and (probably Sufi) dervish, Ferishtah. Browning said that the Persian elements were little more than window dressing, “a thin disguise of a few Persian names and allusions,”144 while both Gal Manor and Reza Taher-Kermani have pointed out that the work and its protagonist may be seen as a response to Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyyat. Unlike Khayyam, Ferishtah is “a profound Muslim, a spiritual teacher,” and a believer.145 The poems periodically indicate Ferishtah’s development as a dervish. In the first, “The Eagle,” Ferishtah is described as “sage about to be, though simple still,” while the second, “The Melon-Seller,” has him “Half-way on Dervishhood,” and in the third, “Shah Abbas,” he is “full Dervish,” and in the last poem, “A Bean-Stripe: also, Apple-Eating,” he addresses his questioner as “Son,” thus emphasizing his role as an older, wise man.146 Taher-Kerman argues that, unlike both The Rubaiyat and Matthew Arnold’s “Sohrab and Rustum,” Browning’s poem is concerned with Persia’s religious culture rather than its poetic tradition.147 Like Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat, however, Browning’s poem is set in medieval Persia, thus relegating the image of Persia to the past in a conventional Orientalist move, although like Tennyson in “Akbar’s Fane,” Browning suggests, through Ferishtah and specifically through the use of Hebrew phrases in the poems, that, in Gal Manor’s words, “Christianity, Islam, and Judaism share the same great theological questions and respond to similar human needs.”148

If Browning offers his own idiosyncratic vision of what is primarily exoticizing Orientalism, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Oscar Wilde each develops the Oriental exotic theme in their very different ways. In “The Burden of Nineveh,”149 the arrival of one of the winged bulls of Nineveh at the British Museum causes Rossetti to move from the opposition between the eternity of the art of Greece and “the London din and dirt”150 to speculations about the ceremonies of worship of the Assyrian gods and the power of Nineveh’s rulers. He also invokes the timeless Orient and meditates, in “Ozymandias”-like fashion, on the transience of all empires, contrasting Christianity and the worship of the pagan gods of Nineveh. Rossetti also dramatizes the conflict between the alien Oriental location and role of the statue and its present status as a “god forlorn,” as it will be commodified as a museum exhibit and turned into an object lesson in the decline of empires.151 In a final fascinating twist, in the last three stanzas of the poem, Rossetti imagines the Nineveh status being rediscovered by “Some tribe of the Australian plough” who will “Bear him afar,—a relic now / Of London, not of Nineveh.”152 Thus linking and even identifying London and by extension the British Empire with Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire, and suggesting that neither the contemporary city nor the empire will survive the passage of time. Thus Rossetti’s exoticizing Orientalism takes on a critical, contemporary dimension as he identifies the God of Victorian England with that of Nineveh. The ambiguities of the poem’s title—“The Burden of Nineveh”—and its meta-poetic reference thus emerge completely only at the end: Nineveh is both a song, the poem itself, as well as a weight to be borne literally as the statue is initially “hoist[ed] in” to the museum,153 but it is also a psychological and even social and political weight as it represents both the past and the thought of the unsustainability of all imperial and perhaps all commercial ambition.

By comparison, Wilde’s “The Sphinx” (1894) seems to offer a textbook case of the fear and fascination identified by Said as typical of Orientalism.154 The poem is a long series of (often derivative) images that link the exotic and the uncanny through the speaker’s evocations of the “beautiful and silent Sphinx” that is also an “exquisite grotesque” that becomes “[his] lovely languorous Sphinx.”155 Like Rossetti’s museum visitor, the speaker here evokes the timelessness of the East through his portrayal of the Sphinx and imagines her connection to exotic locations, religions, animals, stones, and jewels, finally choosing to fantasize that “Great Ammon was [her] bedfellow!”156 He develops this fantasy at great and ornate length before imagining the destructive coupling of the Sphinx with lions and tigers. But in the two final sections, the poem becomes a poem about exoticizing Orientalism as well as an exotic Orientalist poem, when the speaker urges the Sphinx, “Why are you tarrying? Get hence! I weary of your sullen ways, / I weary of your steadfast gaze, your somnolent magnificence,” later twice repeating “Get hence!” and continuing, “You wake in me each bestial sense, you make me what I would not be. / You make my creed a barren sham, you wake foul dreams of sensual life, / And Atys with his blood-stained knife were better than the thing I am.”157 The speaker thus finally rejects the lure of the Orient, identifying it with sensuality, bestiality, and irreligion. The image of castration suggested by Atys (or Attis) who castrated himself when he was unable to keep his vow to Cybele that he would live a celibate life suggests a self-hatred on the part of the speaker that is as excessive as the earlier images of Oriental strangeness, splendor, and luxury.

Other poems by Wilde such as “Ave Imperatrix” and “Athanasia” (both 1881) offer examples of imperialist and exoticizing Orientalist imagery as well as ambiguous critiques of imperialism. “Ave Imperatrix” begins by celebrating “the steep road of wide empire,” and celebrating it with the familiar Orientalist tropes of the “lonely Himalayan height,” the “Indian sky,” and a list of places like “Samarcand, Bokhara,” “Oxus,” “Ispahan,” and “Cabool” (Kabul), but then the speaker seems disillusioned, asking, twice, “[w]hat profit?,” before finally asserting, somewhat surprisingly, that “The young Republic like a sun / [will] Rise from these crimson seas of war.”158 “Athanasia” portrays the mummified body of a young girl in a British museum whose hands hold the seed of an Oriental plant that produces a “wondrous snow of starry blossoms” when planted in English ground to exemplify both the “allure” and the possible “strange dream or evil memory” of the East, although the suggestion of evil is immediately dismissed, and the flower is represented in the poem’s last line as “the child of all eternity,”159 thus linking the Orient to transcendent wisdom. The most surprising aspect of some of Wilde’s poems is perhaps the at-times qualified praise for Oliver Cromwell to be found in some of them. “Ave Imperatrix” presents Cromwell ambiguously. The speaker introduces Cromwell in the lines “And thou whose wounds are never healed, / Whose weary race is never won, / O Cromwell’s England! must thou yield / For every inch of ground a son.”160 The first two lines may refer either to Ireland or to England, and the dead evoked in the final line, similarly, may be either the Irish or the English killed in imperial wars. “Quantum Mutata,” however, unambiguously praises Cromwell for his support of the Protestant Waldenses in Piedmont,161 while the sonnet, “To Milton,” ends with the lines “Dear God! Is this the land / Which bare a triple empire in her hand / When Cromwell spake the word Democracy!”162 As in “Ave Imperatrix,” the lines are ambiguous since even as he seems to praise Cromwell’s avowed democratic philosophy, the speaker nonetheless sees him as representing imperial control of Ireland and Scotland as well as England.

Orientalism in Victorian Fiction

If Orientalism in Victorian poetry can be described as generally belonging to three major trends—the exoticizing and escapist, the patriotic or imperialist, and the socially critical—these are also present in Victorian prose, although in somewhat different forms. In fiction, the Middle East, India, China, and the West Indies are primarily seen as sources of both wealth and violence or danger rather than exoticism, although Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (1868) evokes all of these in relation to India, while Palestine/Israel is the locus for references to a future Jewish state or biblical mythmaking; in novels, it is often the Arabian Nights that is the source of images of Oriental wealth, exoticism, and romance. 163 The leitmotif of past glory of various kinds is less present in Victorian fiction, though common in travel writing. Imperialist Orientalism does not figure strongly in fiction until the end of the century, when it appears in the “imperial Gothic” genre in Kipling and others,164 although there are earlier exceptions, like Dickens’s and Wilkie Collins’s 1857 “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners.” As in some Victorian poetry, Orientalist leitmotifs and images are also used in fiction to criticize the injustice, corruption, and alienation of contemporary English society and to offer an exotic alternative to it. There is also what might be called the reverse imperialist Orientalism of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and, to a certain extent, The Lady of the Shroud (1909), which orientalize Eastern Europe and offer a distinctive Irish take on Victorian Orientalism, suggesting resistance to English hegemony through its vampiric Transylvanian physical and psychological invasion of England and specifically of the imperial capital, London.

India is a constant and significant presence in Victorian fiction, and it often functions (along with China) as shorthand for exoticism, wealth (in the form of precious stones but also, more prosaically, of trade), and the violence or danger of a world that was little understood, despite the long-lasting British presence in the subcontinent. Occasionally, as in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), India figures as the setting for missionary activity, as St. John Rivers prepares to go to convert the Indians toward the end of the novel. The association of India with violence becomes much more pronounced after the Indian Mutiny of 1857–1858, but India is already associated with religious fanaticism and violence in Philip Meadows Taylor’s 1839 Confessions of a Thug, with its hero, Amir Ali, supposedly telling the story of his life as an adherent of Thuggee after he has been arrested and imprisoned, although as Máire ní Fhlathúin argues, the representation of Amir Ali is more ambivalent than that of later violent Indian characters, not least because he is the narrator of his own story, recounting it to a British sahib who is, for the most part, a silent listener.165

Numerous other novels take up the association of India with exoticism and wealth. In Cranford (1853) by Elizabeth Gaskell, Miss Mattie’s brother Peter returns from India with many stories that the narrator realizes are exaggerated but that “the ladies of Cranford” enjoy because they are, like their narrator “so very Oriental” and, “as Miss Pole said … quite as good as an Arabian Night.”166 In Dickens’s Dombey and Son and William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1848), India is more central. Dombey’s business is near the “rich East India House,” and the narrator imagines it filled with exotic Oriental goods,167 and in Thackeray’s novel Jos Sedley returns from his duties as a collector in India a rich man, a nabob. As Patrick Brantlinger says, he is a figure of fun rather than a satirical representation of the British administration of India, but his final promotion to “the revenue Board at Calcutta” surely implies criticism of British corruption in India.168 In the later The Newcomes (1855), much of the plot revolves around a Bengali bank, the Bundelcund Bank, in which a key figure is the Indian capitalist Rummun Loll, whose name indicates that he is a “rum ’un” (a strange one), and therefore not to be trusted. Such turns out to be the case, and Loll is finally revealed as an emblem of Oriental untrustworthiness, causing the downfall of the hero, Colonel Newcome.169 In Dombey and Son Dickens’s Major Bagstock (formerly of India) is a comic figure, although he is also a bragging sadist who brutalizes his “dark servant,” an Indian who is consistently referred to as “the Native”: although Dickens mocks Miss Tox’s ignorance since she “was quite content to classify [the servant] as a ‘native,’ without connecting him with any geographical idea whatever,” and expresses sympathy with the Indian on several occasions, his does not give him a name.170 Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone also evokes India as a country of exoticism and of a religion whose adherents devote their lives to regaining a sacred diamond, and hence as a place of danger as well as a source of (ill-gotten) precious stones, while in Edwin Drood not India but Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) figures as the country of origin of Neville and Helena Landless who are initially described as being “very dark” and “untamed,” while Neville admits that, because of his colonial upbringing “among abject and servile dependents, of an inferior race,” something “tigerish in their blood” had passed over to him.171 Mr. Sapsea, the absurd Mayor of Cloisterham, also implicitly accuses Neville of being the murderer of Edwin Drood, when he asserts that the case has an “Un-English complexion,”172 thus providing an example of the way various characters’ use of derogatory Orientalist stereotypes contributes to Dickens’s criticism of English ignorance, insularity, and xenophobia, although he and his narrators at times exhibit the same tendencies.

One example of these xenophobic tendencies is the work co-authored by Dickens and Wilkie Collins, “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners” (1857), which depicts “natives” in the person of the ironically named Christian King George as brutal and savage. The work is clearly a response to the Indian Mutiny, despite the story’s South American setting. The Indian Mutiny gave rise to many novels, most of which, like George Lawrence’s Maurice Dering (1864) or James Grant’s First Love and Last Love (1868), were rabidly pro-British; this type of novel continued to be published until the end of the century. Flora Annie Steel’s On the Face of the Waters (1897) presents an “apparently balanced view” of events but “leaves untouched the pervasive impression of the Mutineers’ barbarism, cruelty, and irrationality,” as Patrick Brantlinger argues.173 Meadows Taylor’s Seeta (1872) is an exception in criticizing British attitudes and suggesting the possibility of religious tolerance.174

Toward the end of the 19th century, the association of India with violence and savagery took on a new intensity; this can be seen in the figure of the murderous Andaman islander in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four (1890), where Dr. Watson has also been wounded in the course of his service as an army doctor in Afghanistan, and where the plot involves the historical context of the 1857 Indian Mutiny, the East India Company, the theft of Indian treasure, and a pact among four convicts. Other works by Conan Doyle also contain various versions of the trope of the mysterious and/or dangerous Orient: mummies that come back to life in “The Ring of Thoth” (1890) and “Lot. No. 249” (1892), an Afghan ghost in “The Brown Hand” (1899), and an Indian snake that becomes a murder weapon in “The Speckled Band” (1892), among others. The trope of Indian violence is also evoked in the figure of Juggernaut in relation to Edward Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde (1886). In the 1880s and 1890s, imperialist Orientalism comes to dominate many novels, including those of H. Rider Haggard, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Joseph Conrad. (See Africa in Victorian Fiction and The South Seas in Victorian Fiction.)

China generally functions in a similar way to India in Victorian fiction—that is, it suggests the possibility of wealth but is also sometimes connected with a critique of hypocrisy in English society—although in the 1880s and 1890s the tropes of the opium addict and the opium den also become important. Toward the end of Dombey and Son, Florence and Walter Gay set sail for China (thus continuing the family business, albeit under a new name), and in Little Dorrit, Arthur Clennam returns to London from many years of working in China. Thus China is associated with British guilt in relation to the opium trade, but also with the personal or family guilt of the Clennams. Opium is central to Edwin Drood, as the eponymous hero’s uncle, John Jasper, is an opium addict, and the “Princess Puffer,” who runs the opium den, appears in respectable provincial Cloisterham as well as in the London opium den itself. In Daniel Deronda (1876) Hans Meyrick takes opium to relieve the pain of his unrequited love for Mirah, and Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray has opium at home and patronizes an opium den in the East End of London, although Conan Doyle’s Doctor Watson criticizes the use of opium in “The Man with the Twisted Lip,”175 while Sherlock Holmes is an occasional user of cocaine.

Japan is a less obvious presence in Victorian fiction, although in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Japan is part of the novel’s eclectic Decadent artistic décor: Lord Henry Wotton is first seen in the “momentary Japanese effect” of the light on the curtains, lounging on “the divan of Persian saddlebags” in Basil Hallward’s studio, then smoking an “opium-tainted cigarette,” while his own library is “strewn with silk, long-fringed Persian rugs.”176 Later, Dorian burns “odorous gums from the East,” collects jewels (including the “bezoar, that was found in the heart of the Arabian deer”), and reads about the state bed of the King of Poland, “made of Smyrna gold brocade embroidered in turquoises with verses from the Koran.”177 Apart from this generalized Oriental exoticism, much of it derived from Joris-Karl Huysman’s 1884 A Rebours (Against the Grain), the novel also exploits the association of Oriental locations with homosexuality, which Richard Burton was to develop extensively in his idea of the Sotadic Zone (see Travel Writing in the Middle East), when the narrator alludes to “the little white-walled house at Algiers” where Dorian often spends the winter with Sir Henry and uses the tropes of the opium den and opium addiction, although there is no representation of the opium-induced state.178

The Middle East in Victorian Fiction

Like Asia, the Middle East in Victorian fiction is associated with Orientalist images of wealth and trade, although it also has very strong associations both with biblical sites and stories and with the exoticism of the Arabian Nights, where the story of Prince Camaralzaman and Princess Badoura seems to have been a favorite reference. Other key tropes are the Oriental despot or sultan, the harem, and the seclusion of women. Later in the Victorian period, more topically, the region is seen in relation to the Zionist movement and the movement to create a Jewish state, notably in George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, although there are also more conventionally anti-Semitic portraits of Jewish characters in many novelists’ works. Many of these representations of the Orient are types of exoticist Orientalism, although at times this merges with either imperialist Orientalism or Orientalism in the service of social criticism.

The images of the Oriental despot and its corollary in the oppression of women are to be found in several novels. In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, for example, Rochester, attempting to buy Jane expensive and garish clothes and meeting her resistance, declares that he would not exchange her “for the grand Turk's whole seraglio; gazelle-eyes, houri forms and all!” Taking up his Orientalist reference, Jane describes him as a “three-tailed bashaw [pasha],” saying that he should take himself off to “the bazaars of Stamboul,” where, in his words he can “[bargain] for so many tons of flesh and such an assortment of black eyes.”179 But the novel has already discreetly evoked Oriental sexuality (in a perhaps ironically suppressed form) in the name of Rochester’s black gelding, “Mesrour,” which is the name of the chief eunuch of the harem in the Sultan’s palace,180 the fact that Rochester rides a gelding, a castrated horse, and not a stallion perhaps casting an unintentionally ironic light on the hero’s virility. Thackeray’s narrator in Vanity Fair makes a similar connection between the Orient and sexuality when, musing on Amelia’s desire to believe in George Osborne’s fidelity, he states, “We are Turks with the affections of our women … We let their bodies go abroad liberally enough … But their souls must be seen by only one man, and they obey not unwillingly, and consent to remain at home as our slaves—ministering to us and doing drudgery for us.”181 Again, in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (1860), the narrator calls Tom “the young sultan” when he defies his aunt Pullet’s command not to leave the garden and taunts Maggie by talking to their cousin, Lucy.182 In all three cases, the exotic reference functions as direct or indirect criticism or mockery of male power and/or sexuality and gender inequality in English society.

The trope of the Middle East as a signifier of the exotic and of wealth, often also suggesting social criticism, figures in other works by Eliot and others, often in the recurrent references to The Arabian Nights. In Felix Holt (1866), for example, Harold Transome has made his money in Smyrna (Izmir). He identifies himself as “an Oriental, you know,” and has a servant, “the olive-skinned Dominic,” who is “one of those wonderful southern fellows that make one’s life easy,” and who is, in the words of Harold (who at this point sounds unnervingly like Dickens’s Miss Tox), “of no country in particular.”183 Transome also distinguishes between Western and Eastern women; the narrator notes that “Western women were not to his taste: they showed a transition from the feeble animal to the thinking being, which was simply troublesome. Harold preferred a slow-witted, large-eyed woman, silent and affectionate, with a load of black hair weighing much more heavily than her brains.”184 Like Rochester in Jane Eyre, Transome identifies exotic Oriental women in terms of their body parts: “flesh” and “eyes” for Rochester, “hair” for Transome. In Daniel Deronda, Mab Meyrick sees the eponymous protagonist as “Prince Camaralzaman,” which exoticizes him and emphasizes his “un-English” identity (and beauty), but also obscures his Jewishness.185 Eliot invokes the exoticism of The Arabian Nights to suggest that although Deronda is not a prince, in English eyes (especially those of an impressionable and romantic girl), he is exotic; more indirectly, when she has Mab refer to Mirah as “Queen Budoor,” she indicates to the reader who knows the story of Prince Camaralzaman in the Arabian Nights that Mirah and Deronda are destined for each other.186 The story of Prince Camaralzaman and the Princess is also indirectly alluded to by Dick Swiveller in The Old Curiosity Shop (1841), who, awaking after his illness, declares that he must be in “an Arabian Night,” where “The Marchioness is a Genie, and having had a wager with another Genie about who is the handsomest young man alive, and the worthiest to be the husband of the Princess of China, has brought me away, room and all, to compare us together.”187 Similarly, Nelly Dean in Wuthering Heights speculates that Heathcliff’s father was perhaps “Emperor of China,” and his mother “an Indian queen.”188

Later fiction that uses Orientalist stereotypes of the Middle East includes Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860), where Victorian society is identified with the Arabian Desert, and his novels Armadale (1866) and The Moonstone both use The Arabian Nights’ technique of the mise en abîme, while The Moonstone also reveals structural parallels with the Nights’ tale, “The Porter and the Ladies of Baghdad,” as Caracciolo has shown.189 Robert Louis Stevenson entitles his short story collections The New Arabian Nights (1882) and More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter (1885), and the first collection includes the four stories linked under the exoticizing title “The Rajah’s Diamond.”

A distinctive dimension of the representation of people of Middle Eastern origin in Victorian fiction is the focus on Jewish characters, culture, and history, both in England and outside it. Jewish characters are to be found in the novels of Benjamin Disraeli, Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot, among others, represented in a variety of ways, some sympathetically and in ways that go beyond a set of stereotypes going back at least to William Shakespeare’s Shylock, some in ways that recycle this stereotype in contemporary fashion in images of the Jew as dominating new types of commerce and speculation as well as old-fashioned usury, thus providing an example of Orientalism used in the context of racially-inflected social criticism.

In the 1830s and 1840s, the early novels of Disraeli like Contarini Fleming (1832), Alroy (1833), Coningsby (1844), and Tancred: or, The New Crusade (1847) reflect the period’s interest in Jewish history and in contemporary Judaism, and they include sympathetic representations of several Jewish figures, notably that of Sidonia. In Alroy, Disraeli transforms the medieval Jewish figure of David Alroy into “a Zionist before his time,” and the Holy Land is the focus of the novel’s religious vision and its political idealism;190 both of these imply criticism of the superficiality and corruption of English political life. Alroy and Contarini Fleming are both “Eastern tales,” reflecting Disraeli’s own travels to Constantinople and elsewhere, and offering traditional exoticist Oriental images and fantasies. Tancred, whose eponymous protagonist is named after the leader of the First Crusade, appeals to the idea of Eastern wisdom and what Sidonia calls “the spiritual hold which Asia has always had upon the North.”191 The novel’s subtitle evokes the trope of “pilgrimage,” which is later to be so important in travel writing about the Middle East and which recurs, highly ironized, in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899). Disraeli’s’ novel uses two contradictory tropes for the Arab people. Those of the desert embody “the true Oriental mind … free and faithful to the divine tradition,”192 a characterization that anticipates the later idealization of the Bedouin by Richard Burton and other travelers to Arabia. But there is also the corresponding negative stereotype of Arab peoples as untrustworthy political intriguers in the figure of Fakredeen, the Syrian emir who originally holds Tancred hostage, and whose sister, Eva, Tancred wishes to marry. Fakredeen is the emblem of the “Asiatic mendacity,’” which Thackeray embodied in Rummun Loll in The Newcomes, and which, as Brantlinger says, is particularly identified with the Bengali race by “Macaulay, Charles Grant, [and] James Mill,” as well as Thackeray.193 Thus, these overlapping discourses suggest that some Orientalist tropes and stereotypes were common to Victorian fiction, travel writing, and political analysis.

In Dickens’s novels, Fagin in Oliver Twist exploits the conventional associations between Jews and money (here in the form of stolen goods), treachery, viciousness, and cowardice, among others. Moreover, Dickens, like Trollope after him, plays on the stereotyped physical characteristics associated with the Jew: the long gown, the red hair, the hooked nose, the “greasy” appearance, and so on.194 Although in the later novel Our Mutual Friend Dickens created the “good Jew,” Riah (perhaps in response to a critical letter from a Jewish reader, Eliza Davis), ironically Riah is still associated with the inhumanity of usury, albeit through no fault of his own, because he is the representative of the Christian usurer Fledgeby, and the narrator still uses Oriental stereotypes such as Riah’s staff and long gown.195

In Trollope’s Nina Balatka (1868), the representation of the Jewish characters is ambivalent; at times, Trollope resorts to stereotyping, as in some of the characterization of Anton Trendellsohn and his father, who are identified as being commercially minded, suspicious, and both prejudiced against and wary of Christians.196 To some extent this wariness is justified; Trollope also dramatizes the anti-Semitism of the Christian Zamenoy family, and especially of Sophie Zamenoy and her son, Ziska, although Anton is also (unnecessarily) suspicious of Nina Balatka, the Christian girl whom he loves.197 However, Anton is also critical of the Prague Jewish community as being “Dark, ignorant, and foolish,” because they are content to stay in the Prague ghetto instead of opting for cities such as Vienna, Paris, or London, where, he has been told, Jews “lived among Christians … on equal terms, giving and taking, honouring and honoured.”198 Anton does finally remain faithful to Nina, and at the end of the novel they leave Prague for Frankfurt. The other dimension of the novel that is noteworthy, as Nadia Valman suggests,199 is its depiction of the Jewish female character Rebecca Loth. She is first introduced, unpromisingly enough, in terms of a negative type of Orientalist beauty: the narrator describes her face as “completely Jewish in its hard, bold, almost repellent beauty.”200 However, as the action of the novel unfolds, she first offers Nina her friendship (at first on condition that they both renounce Anton, whom they both love), but later provides her with practical and generous help, saves her from suicide (at Anton’s behest), and sacrifices her own love for Anton while promising continuing friendship to Nina. As Valman argues, it is Rebecca, the self-sacrificing, “beautiful and magnanimous” Jewess201, who makes possible the union of the Jewish man and the Christian woman at the end of the novel, showing that Trollope is recycling a stereotype harking back to Sir Walter Scott’s Rebecca in Ivanhoe (1820).

The representation of the male and female Jewish characters is similarly complex in Trollope’s 1875 novel, The Way We Live Now. Although Mrs. Melmotte is described as “a Bohemian Jewess,” as Paul Delaney observes, the origins of both the financier Augustus Melmotte and his daughter (by another woman) Marie “are left obscure,”202 thus hinting at Melmotte’s dubious morality and business practices, but not identifying them specifically as Jewish. Despite his power and the admiration the narrator sometimes reveals for his financial genius and his dogged acceptance of ruin, Melmotte is a swindler and a forger, ultimately committing suicide like his literary predecessor, Mr. Merdle in Dickens’s Little Dorrit. The banker, Ezekiel Brehgert, is initially described through the conventional negative stereotypes of Jewish appearance: he is “a fat greasy man … with hair dyed black, and beard and moustache dyed a deep purple colour,” and although his eyes create the “charm of his face,” they are “set too near together in his face for the general delight of Christians.”203 Despite this unpromising introduction, however, Brehgert progressively emerges as sympathetic. Sir Damask Monogram says he has the reputation of not being “a bad fellow,” adding that he is “A vulgar cad, and all that, but nothing wrong about him,” and Brehgert’s letter to Georgiana Longestaffe (explaining his much-impaired financial position when Melmotte’s ruin is all but certain) is described by the narrator as “plain-spoken and truth-telling,” showing the anti-Semitism of the Longestaffe parents up for the simple-minded racism it is.204 The wolfish menace of the other Jewish businessman (and Member of Parliament) in the novel is clearly conveyed by his name, Cohenlupe: he is heavily involved in Melmotte’s secrets and more-than-shady dealings, and absconds with much of the firm’s capital when Melmotte is ruined.205

Valman has analyzed the figure of Melmotte’s daughter, Marie Melmotte, in some detail. However, although she recognizes that Melmotte “may or may not be a Jew,” she argues that in Trollope’s novel, “the Jewish man of commerce is seen in opposition to his long-suffering, imaginative daughter,”206 a problematic statement for two reasons. First, the text is quite explicit in not identifying Marie or Melmotte as unambiguously Jewish. Valman is not alone in this misidentification of Marie: in the “Introduction” to the 1994 Penguin edition of the novel, Frank Kermode describes Marie Melmotte as “a tough little outsider, a Jew and a bastard to boot.” 207 She is not the current Mrs. Melmotte’s daughter; the narrator states that she has “no trace of the Jewess in her countenance,” and that she “could just remember the dirty street in the German portion of New York” where she was born,208 which may or may not mean that she is Jewish. Moreover, Valman overemphasizes Marie’s “repeated insistence on her capacity for suffering” and her “enthusiasm for self-sacrifice.”209 It is true that Marie repeatedly asserts that she will not marry Lord Nidderdale even if her father “chop[s her] to pieces,”210 but her growing sense of independence and self-validation is indicated from a very early point in the novel. In his initial description of her, the narrator says that she “began to have an opinion” (about marrying Lord Nidderdale) and that she “was now tempted from time to time to contemplate her own happiness and her own condition.”211 She is the one to take the initiative in her relationship with the spineless wastrel Felix Carbury, and when, toward the end of the novel, she accepts that she can never marry him, she is still possessed of the hundred thousand pounds that she has refused to sign away to her father and that make her an independent woman, and she decides that “go where she might, she would now be her own mistress.”212 Small wonder then that by the end of the novel she has become an “excellent … woman of business.”213 Valman argues that “the vindication of the Jewess [in The Way We Live Now] indicates the novel’s liberal accommodation of limited political progress,”214 but the point is surely that Marie, who is not necessarily Jewish, is allowed to follow in her father’s business footsteps, albeit in America.

Eliot’s Daniel Deronda reexamines several of the dominant Victorian Orientalist stereotypes of Jews and Judaism. These are both sociocultural and physical: socially, there is the image of “vulgar” and “ugly” Jews dominated by commerce and the idea of gain, represented (although also qualified) in the representation of Ezra Cohen and his family, and this is linked to the numerous incidental details that reveal the influence of this stereotype on the minds of many of the novel’s characters.215 This includes even Deronda himself, although on his second meeting with the Cohen family he is “almost ashamed” (my emphasis) of his initial “supercilious dislike” of them. In terms of physical stereotypes, as in Trollope, there is emphasis on eyes that are set too close together, and Hans Meyrick makes fun of the Jewish nose.216 However, Deronda himself offers a contrasting image of the Jew both physically and culturally; as he tells Alcharisi, his mother, because of his upbringing, his “Christian sympathies … can never die out,” and much earlier in the novel, the narrator has described him as someone who identifies himself as “an Englishman,” but one who wants “to understand other points of view.”217 However, toward the end of the novel, there is less and less stress on the cosmopolitan dimension of Deronda’s characterization and more on his desire to do “identify [himself], as far as possible, with [his] hereditary people” and “give [his] heart and soul” to any work he can do for them.218 Later, he tells Gwendolen, who is already reeling with “amazement” and “utterly frustrated” by his revelation that he is a Jew, that he is “possessed” by the idea “of restoring a political existence to my people, making them a nation again, giving them a national centre, such as the English have.”219

Although the novel establishes Deronda as a Jew who could easily be assimilated into English society—indeed, as someone who has been so assimilated—and although he acts as a spiritual guide to Gwendolen Harleth from quite an early point in the novel, thus providing another example of his wide sympathies, the fact that he is recognized as a Jew throughout the novel (by Joseph Kalonymos in Frankfort, by Mirah, and by Mordecai/Ezra) surely suggests a kind of racial essentialism undercutting any idea of cosmopolitanism. Deronda’s story and his gradual realization of his Jewish identity and his mission also highlight the hypocrisy, snobbery, and materialism of English upper-class society and its lack of any truly spiritual dimension. As Bryan Cheyette argues, the novel has a “double narrative”: it exposes the lack of “self-transcendence available in England at the time,” but it is also “confined by a racialized discourse.”220 Cheyette points out other characters who seem to offer different versions of Jewish cosmopolitanism: the musician, Klesmer and the opera singer, Deronda’s mother, Alcharisi (or the Princess Halm-Eberstein). While Klesmer is assimilated into English upper-class society, even though or because he is “a felicitous combination of the German, the Sclave, and the Semite,” readers do not see Alcharisi until she is ill and dying, characterized by a “worn beauty” which makes Deronda think of her “not quite a human mother, but a Melusina,”221 the fairy fated to be transformed into a serpent from the waist down one day of the week. Alcharisi is thus associated with John Milton’s Sin in Paradise Lost, among other decidedly unpromising forebears, and there seems to be scant sympathy for her rebellion against the constraints imposed on the Jewish daughter; her version of the “universalism of art,” as Valman says, “is not endorsed by the novel as a whole.”222 By contrast, Mirah is both the good daughter, as well as the symbol of “diasporic suffering,” as Valman calls her; she is utterly faithful to her religion, does not rebel against her altogether unworthy father, and accepts the secondary place of Jewish women in Judaism.223 Mirah and her brother Mordecai are idealized images of Jewish belief and culture, as opposed to their father, who is demonized.

In Eliot and Trollope, as Cheyette notes, the- occasionally negative depictions of Jewish characters seem to suggest a fear of racial contamination and invasion through immigration, commercial domination, and/or assimilation.224 The ambivalence in the representation of the Jewish characters in Daniel Deronda provides one example of this, and Eliot’s essay “The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!” contains another. In the essay, Eliot’s persona, Theophrastus Such, first stresses the English “affinity” with the Jews, but then evokes the possible “calamity” of undergoing “a premature fusion with immigrants of alien blood.”225 These fears of contamination and invasion anticipate some popular novels of the late Victorian period or the beginning of the 20th century.

Africa in Victorian Fiction

In fiction, it is not until the appearance of the works of H. Rider Haggard and Joseph Conrad in the 1880s and 1809s, the former identified by Patrick Brantlinger as examples of “imperial Gothic,” that is, a “blend of adventure story with Gothic elements,”226 that Africa becomes a significant setting for fiction. Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885), She (1886), and Allan Quartermain (1887) combine misogynistic Orientalist fantasy and romance with visions of the Noble (and Ignoble) Savage in a fictional world that, like that of Kim, is very much a male enclave. As Deirdre David notes, the organizing tropes of Haggard’s fiction are “travel, hazardous adventure, and eventual mastery of the [often female] forces that both threatens and define masculinity [and therefore imperial action].”227 Haggard’s exceptional Zulu characters, Ignosi (or Umbopa) in King Solomon’s Mines and Umslopogaas in Alan Quartermain, are versions of the Noble Savage crossed with the chivalrous upper-class Englishman, while Alan Quartermain opposes the Zulu as the Noble Savage with the murdering Masai as his Ignoble counterpart.228 The African landscapes through which the heroes must travel are both feminized and threatening. Unlike the tropes of the “virgin land” to be found in much Victorian travel writing about Africa, these landscapes are both more explicitly sexualized—the mountains known as Sheba’s breasts in King Solomon’s Mines and the womblike caves and passageways that threaten to turn into graves in both that novel and She—and more explicitly dangerous. However, Haggard’s novels do share with much travel writing the tropes of the unexplored land and discovery (of both land and treasure, in the case of the novels). Conrad’s African fictions share many of these tropes, but they are generally ironized and undermined. Both “An Outpost of Progress” (1897) and Heart of Darkness (1899) signal the advent of Africa as setting and theme in modernist literature, mixing the conventions of travel writing with the adventure genre, but also with psychological analysis so that the African setting becomes the symbolic representation of European angst and corruption and of the exploitation of colonial peoples and resources. Heart of Darkness takes over the “Dark Continent” trope, as well as that of the “blank spaces” or undiscovered country, the pilgrimage (although Marlow presents the mercantile and mercenary “pilgrims” through corrosive irony), the “civilizing mission” (also undermined by the figures of both Kurtz and Marlow), the journey of discovery upriver, the savagery of the African interior but also its attractiveness (through the figure of the unnamed African woman), and the danger of “going native” in the person of Kurtz. Travel writing tropes that Conrad’s novel markedly does not take over are those of mastery as embodied in the “monarch-of-all-I-survey”229 and the panorama: Marlow is not in control and never sees anything very clearly, partly due to the fog or mist that periodically impedes his vision and surrounds him and his listeners as he tells the story, and partly due to his misconceptions.

The South Seas: The Pacific and Malaysia

18th-century Orientalist accounts of the South Seas (and especially Tahiti) were primarily characterized by the exoticist Orientalism of images of paradise, the Noble Savage, and sexual freedom; at least this was true until the arrival of the missionaries who deplored the people’s heathen condition.230 This exoticist Orientalism continued into the Victorian era, but later in the century, in Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad, for example, it became entangled with dramatizations of the exploitative and destructive consequences of imperialist trade. Stevenson’s short story “The Beach at Falesa” (1892), and his novels The Wrecker (1892) and The Ebb-Tide (1894), like Conrad’s Almayer’s Folly, (1895), An Outcast of the Islands (1896), Lord Jim, (1900), and The Rescue (1920), dramatize the seamier side of imperialism. All these works may be seen as the inverse of works of imperialist Victorian Orientalist children’s literature. In Stevenson and Conrad’s works, the heroic adventurers are no longer heroic, with the possible exception of Conrad’s Tom Lingard, who appears in Almayer’s Folly, An Outcast of the Islands, and The Rescue, and who seems to be a throwback to the heroic adventurer figure of earlier fiction. Kaspar Almayer in Almayer’s Folly and Peter Willems in An Outcast of the Islands are both seen as failures, destroyed partly because they cannot cope with the moral and social challenges of the colonial situation. Almayer loses his business and his daughter and ends an opium addict, while Willems is morally bankrupt and, like Jim after him, betrays his native benefactors. In Lord Jim, Jim first betrays the Merchant Navy’s moral code and the pilgrims who are his responsibility, and although he later partly atones for his earlier dereliction of duty in Patusan, his exotic and paradisal island, the corrupt profit-motive version of the imperial enterprise finally destroys him as Gentleman Brown is able to manipulate Jim’s embittered predecessor, Cornelius, so that Jim unwillingly betrays the native people who have come to trust him. As in Heart of Darkness, Conrad exploits and undermines Orientalist stereotypes, in this case the morally righteous English officer, the Noble Savage, and the South Seas as paradise. Stevenson’s “The Beach at Falesa” depicts the consequences of the imperial enterprise when it becomes mixed with chicanery and mixed-race romance: like the works by Conrad mentioned above, the story can be seen as dramatizing the consequences of imperialist greed and violence.

The East in Europe

Bram Stoker’s Dracula offers a striking adaptation of some of the tropes of imperialist Orientalism to fiction. This may be related to Stoker’s Irish origin and the contemporary situation of Ireland as a British colony whose status was under what seemed to be permanent discussion in the later years of the 19th century as a result of the Home Rule movement and of the role of figures like Charles Stewart Parnell. The opening of Dracula, for example, establishes the classic opposition between the Protestant, rational, efficient, safe, and ordered West and the Catholic, superstitious, inefficient, dangerous, unmapped, and wild East of Europe in Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountains. But when Jonathan Harker arrives at Dracula’s castle, we also become aware of the meticulous preparations for the Count’s physical and psychological invasion of England, and specifically London. Dracula speaks English, and he has maps, railway timetables, solicitors’ letters, and deeds of properties, as well as a collection of English books that will enable him to effect what will be the first stage of his invasion and conquest of the English polity. Even before his arrival in Whitby, Dracula begins the psychological dimension of the conquest, by controlling the minds and bodies of Lucy Westenra, the “lunatic” R. M. Renfield, and, later, less entirely successfully, Mina Harker. Lucy Westenra’s body becomes the first disputed terrain, and, despite the united efforts of the English aristocracy and professional classes (Arthur Holmwood later Lord Godalming and Dr. John Seward), the American West (Quincey Morris), and the scientific and spiritual powers of Europe (the Dutch Dr. Van Helsing) to protect it, Dracula conquers. He destroys Renfield too, but his partial invasion of Mina Harker’s psyche is thwarted and, indeed, turned to his disadvantage since Van Helsing is able to hypnotize Mina Harker and so discover Dracula’s whereabouts and his plans. The final movement of the novel, the pursuit of Dracula from the West to the East of Europe to Transylvania, involves classic images of Dracula as the savage colonized subject: he is able to transform himself into wild animals like wolves, dogs, rats, and bats, and he is described as a criminal with a “child-brain” and low cunning who must be exterminated so that the superior Western (imperial) civilization may triumph.231 The numerous invocations of God in this final part of the novel also suggest the conversion of the heathen as part of the civilizing mission, although in this case the heathen can only be saved after death.232 It is surely not too speculative to see in this the reverse Orientalism of a rewriting of the English conquest, domination, and exploitation of Ireland as a colony, although the forces invading and resisting English hegemony are demonized and the invasion is finally defeated.

Popular and Children’s Literature

Children’s Literature

Orientalism in Victorian children’s literature often takes one of three forms: the imperialist, the exotic or fantastic, and the adapted animal fable or moral tale. The first includes the works of Captain Frederick Marryat, Harriet Martineau, R. M Ballantyne, and, later in the century, G. A. Henty and Robert Louis Stevenson, although Stevenson mixes the imperialist worldview with the more romantic adventure tropes of piracy and treasure. To these should be added The Boy’s Own Paper, whose first issue appeared in 1879, and which at first unselfconsciously promoted the British Empire. The second category comprises the (often bowdlerized) translations of The Arabian Nights and, toward the end of the century, the five stories by Oscar Wilde included in The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888), while the third is seen in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books (1894, 1895).

In the imperialist category, in works like Masterman Ready by Marryat (1841), The Coral Island (1858) by Ballantyne, Martineau’s Dawn Island (1845), as well as Treasure Island (1883) by Stevenson, common Orientalist tropes are the escape from home and school, adventure, the desert island, the heroic and honest sailor (or adolescent English boy), and several versions of the Noble (and teachable) Savage; although in Stevenson’s novel morality is less clear cut than in many of the others. Henty’s novels are even more obviously imperialist, as their titles suggest: The March to Magdala (1868) and The March to Coomassie (1874) both commemorate Henry Stanley’s East African journeys (see Africa in Victorian Travel Writing), while the stories set in India are often similarly bellicose, as in With Clive in India: The Beginnings of An Empire (1884), Through the Sikh War: A Tale of the Conquest of the Punjab (1894), and The Tiger of Mysore: A Story of the War with Tippoo Saib (1896).

One significant “family version” of The Arabian Nights was first published by Edward Lane in 1839–1841, reissued without the compendious notes in 1853, and then again in 1859, this time with the notes once more.233 Lane’s translation dominated the market between 1850 and 1865, but toward the end of the century there were numerous “selections and abridgements adapted for young readers,” in which, as Caracciolo says, the illustrations were as influential as the stories themselves.234 In the children’s versions of the stories, as in the unexpurgated versions, common tropes were those of “a world of impossible daring and extremes of wealth and happiness” and “[e]scapism, fantasy, [and] adventure.”235 In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), the hookah smoked by the Caterpillar suggests the Orient, and the gnomic utterances of the Caterpillar may offer a gentle satire on the idea of Eastern wisdom.236

The third strand of Orientalism in Victorian children’s literature is that of the adapted animal tales of Kipling’s two Jungle Books. Here the genres of the animal fable and the moral tale intersect with Orientalist images and leitmotifs to produce a variety of perspectives on the situation of the British in India. In “Mowgli’s Brothers,” for instance, the narrator’s explanation of why the jungle animals frown on the killing of human beings brings a condemnation of colonial violence. He says that the “real reason for this [prohibition] is that man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle suffers.”237 In “Tiger-Tiger!” the local villagers are viewed from the perspective of Mowgli and the wolves through the Orientalist stereotypes of native peoples as stupid and superstitious, and “Toomai of the Elephants” evokes the colonial wars in East Africa, India, Afghanistan, and Burma.238 In “Servants of the Queen,” the title refers to the camp animals, and the story offers an equivocal view of white supremacy or “Orders.” The human narrator (who understands animal speech but does not directly address the camp animals) finally understands why Indian cattle are “so scared of Englishmen”: he realizes that “[w]e eat beef … and of course the cattle do not like it.”239

Popular Fiction in the Late Victorian Era

Popular fiction in the late 19th century develops in at least two somewhat parallel ways; first, there are the novels described by Patrick Brantlinger as “imperial Gothic” (see Africa in Victorian Fiction), and second, there are what might be called novels of political Orientalism. In the latter, the exoticism of earlier works becomes enmeshed in political plots and themes, a development that continues in the early 20th century in the novels of Sax Rohmer and John Buchan, among others. Works like The Rajah’s Sapphire (1896) and The Empress of the Earth (1898) by M. P. Shiel, the Dr. Nikola novels by Guy Boothby, or the short story “The Rajah's Treasure” (1896) by H. G. Wells reveal the merging of exoticizing and imperialist Orientalism in a politicized form of the adventure novel. In Shiel’s The Rajah’s Sapphire, for example, the jewel is cursed, and it inevitably brings misfortune, dishonor, and sometimes death to its possessor: it is not only incorporated into a love story, but also related to topical references to the first Sino-Japanese War and to the sufferings of the poor in the winter of 1893–1894.240 The novel’s debt to Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone is obvious: like the diamond in Collins’s novel, the sapphire comes from India and is acquired by a British family, the MacDonald’s, through their involvement in colonial history, and it brings misfortune to all who own it. Unlike Collins, however, who finally has the diamond returned to its place on the forehead of the Hindu deity in India, Shiel has the sapphire cut up and sold and thus integrated into the money market.241 Its former owner, Ralph Ralloner, the crazed American capitalist millionaire who finally succumbs to the fatal influence of the sapphire and commits suicide, is frequently referred to as a “Juggernaut,”242 an allusion that identifies his irrational violence and destructiveness as Oriental, non-British qualities. Another example of this mingling of the adventure novel with Western anxieties over the potential threat of the East and the delight in describing and dangerously exotic settings and characters is Dr. Nikola (1896), the first of a series of novels focused on this character whose nationality is obscure. The action takes place in India, China, and Tibet, and the Orient is represented through a series of negative stereotypes: the expatriate English narrator, Wilfred Bruce, associates the Chinese with poison and torture, and they are seen by another Westerner, Prendergast, as “a mob of howling devils” and the embodiments of greed and hypocrisy.243 Similarly, Bruce describes the Tibetan monks as “loathsome and cowardly ruffians,” who are “steeped to the eyebrows in sensuality and crime,” although on another occasion he finds a group of men sitting around a statue of the Buddha “picturesque,” and he praises the statue’s “beautiful ornamentation” and “large gold crown.”244 Dr. Nikola himself is first described by an acquaintance of Bruce’s as the devil: “Apollyon himself.”245 Gradually readers discover that Dr. Nikola is a combination of an evilly disposed Sherlock Holmes (he has considerable detective skill, he is a mathematical genius, a hypnotist, and a master of intrigue) and the adventure heroes of Haggard or, later, John Buchan, due to his physical and mental strength and endurance.246 Dr. Nikola is also a master of Oriental languages and disguise; he and Bruce adopt no fewer than four different disguises in the course of the novel.247 Overall, the East is represented through the conventional (and contradictory) tropes of danger and exoticism, forcing Dr. Nikola to admit that no “man in the Western world” has the power and knowledge available to the sages of the East, while the narrator sees things he finds too terrible even to describe.248

Orientalism in Victorian fiction is thus a wide and varied field, as is its counterpart in Victorian travel writing, and although each area is associated with particular Orientalist tropes, there are also features that are common to many travel accounts.

Orientalism in Victorian Travel Writing

The most important generalized patterns of Orientalist tropes in much Victorian travel writing are those of the Noble (or Ignoble) Savage, which are both versions of the idea of the primitive linked to the idea of the Orient as either paradise or a place of danger; the image of the non-European as Child (with its concomitant idea of the European country as Mother or Father), what Said calls the “textual attitude,” that is, the tendency to see the Orient through written accounts rather than as empirical reality;249 the concepts of the picturesque and the theatrical; and, most important, the many different versions of the trope of the gaze. The gaze takes many different forms, from the masterful “monarch-of-all-I-survey” identified by Mary Louise Pratt250 (which links an esthetic vision of the scene described with the potential for imperial possession and mastery), to the vision of the government agent in disguise, the amused spectator, the sketcher of panoramas, the (often female) ironic observer who is at times herself the subject of her own narrative irony, or the scientific or ethnographic observer. Many of these tropes belong equally to the domains of exoticist and imperialist Orientalism. Although the social-criticism strand of Victorian Orientalism is less significant in travel writing than in other genres, writers like Henry Morton Stanley, Richard F. Burton, and Mary Kingsley at times turn their Orientalizing comments on their non-European surroundings back on English society and politics.

India in Victorian Travel Writing

The dominant Orientalist tropes in Victorian travel accounts of India are those of the picturesque, exotic/barbaric splendor, and the mysteries of the zenana, but there are also those more directly connected with imperial power, like the gaze of the disguised secret agent or the surveyor of ethnographic or geographical features. The trope of the picturesque often takes the form of images of ruins representing the decay of a formerly powerful civilization, while exoticism is also seen in the tropes of the harem, the seclusion of women, and the Oriental despot. Indira Ghose argues that after the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the hitherto dominant trope of the picturesque declines;251 also, after the Indian Mutiny, there are many eye witness and historical or ethnographic accounts of the subcontinent,252 most notably perhaps William Howard Russell’s My Diary in India, in the Year 1858–9 (1860).

Both Fanny Parkes’s Wanderings of a Pilgrim (1850) and, to a lesser extent, Emily Eden’s Up the Country: Letters Written to Her Sister from the Upper Provinces of India (1867) use the picturesque, which, as Ghose observes, can be seen as one version of the power of the colonial gaze, which distances and categorizes what it looks on.253 Parkes frequently uses the trope to refer to trees and other natural features of the landscape,254 but also to “Hindu temples and ruins, and statuesque Oriental women,”255 and in both Parkes and Eden, the picturesque is an aspect of colonial privilege.256 Although Eden at times represents India through the familiar exoticizing Orientalist stereotypes of wealth and the “barbaric splendour” of gold and diamonds, she nonetheless distances herself from the conventional Orientalist and colonial perspective through self-mockery and irony.257 As Nigel Leask argues, one specific form of the picturesque, “the melancholy contemplation of Mughal or Hindu ruins,” both identifies the picturesque with “a past landscape which manifests the ruinous agency of time” and “signals … the triumph of British liberty over oriental despotism.”258 Thus, to some extent, the picturesque in travel writing functions in a similar way to the trope of lost glory in Victorian Orientalist poetry. Leask also contrasts the trope of the picturesque with the “survey modality” in travel accounts, which he relates to both ethnography and surveillance where Orientalist tropes like Eastern barbarism, the untrustworthiness of the native populations, or the superiority of Western ethnographic knowledge function more directly in the context of colonial power.259 For example, as Indira Ghose has shown, in Richard Burton’s Sindh and the Races that Inhabit the Valley of the Indus (1851), Burton uses the metaphor of the “game” for the imperial enterprise, recounts both the pleasures and the efficacy of his disguise as a secret agent in obtaining information, and calls for harsher colonial laws.260 Burton’s ethnographic spying looks forward to Kipling’s Kim (1901), which continues the “survey modality” in the shape of Colonel Strickland, but the novel also exploits the exoticist version of Orientalism.

The Middle East/Arabia in Victorian Travel Writing

Orientalist representations of the Middle East in Victorian travel writing take different forms, depending on the particular geographical area being described: Egypt and Turkey are often represented through tropes related to the “textual attitude” of previous European travelers, as Derek Gregory and Emily A. Haddad argue (following Said),261 or through the tropes of the former glory of an ancient civilization (in the case of Egypt), or the tales of The Arabian Nights,262 or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters.263 By contrast, the Arabian Desert was often represented through the tropes (or the fantasies) of Bedouin life, which was seen as either purer and simpler than European mores and based on a code of honor and male solidarity, or as an example of a brutal and primitive existence, although in both cases the geographical conditions gave rise to the tropes of pilgrimage, hardship, and discovery. Finally, religious sites such as Mecca and Jerusalem were represented through the tropes of pilgrimage and/or disguise.

Victorian travelers to Egypt and Turkey often used the familiar exoticist Orientalist tropes of The Arabian Nights, the hammam (or Turkish bath), the harem, the slave market, the veiled or secluded woman, and the Oriental despot. A key text in this regard is Edward Lane’s An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), whose author is one of several Victorian travelers who adopted non-European dress. His account of Egypt, as Rana Kabbani argues, represents the country through the tropes of magic and superstition, among others; he says, for example, “The Arabs are a very superstitious people; and none of them are more so than those of Egypt.”264 Lane also sees the women of Egypt as “the most licentious in their feelings of all females who lay any claim to be considered as members of a civilized nation,” adding that “some of the stories and the intrigues of women in The Thousand and One Nights present faithful pictures of occurrences not infrequent in the modern metropolis of Egypt.”265 Later accounts of Egypt, like Thackeray’s Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo (1846) or Kinglake’s Eothen (1844), take up these stereotypes: Thackeray records Turkish baths, hookahs, dervishes, minarets, and bazaars, but both he and Kinglake also compare this picturesque Orient to the progress represented by Western technology, notably that of steam.266 Harriet Martineau’s Eastern Life, Present and Past (1848) represents her Egyptian servants as children, and she sees polygamy (and the harem) as “a hell upon earth,” arguing that “as polygamy runs riot in Egypt, Egypt is the lowest depth of hell.”267 By contrast, Lucie Duff-Gordon’s Letters from Egypt (1865) and Last Letters from Egypt (1875) reveal her sympathy with ordinary people and her praise for their liberalism, and even their tolerance of marital infidelity: “I believe … that very forgiving husbands are commoner here than everywhere [sic],” she says, and she also (sympathetically) tells a story of an Egyptian magistrate coming to ask her for olives for a “black girl,” that is, a slave girl, who is pregnant.268 One traveler to Egypt, W. H. Bartlett, provides a domesticated version of a trope that was more often associated with African travelers, the “monarch-of-all-I-survey.” In accounts of African journeys by writers like Stanley or Burton, the trope is generally one of mastery and includes ideas of possession and esthetics. Bartlett’s version describes the European furnishing of the dahabeeah, the type of Egyptian sailing boat that many travelers used to travel on the Nile, and he states, “I was monarch of all I surveyed … and amused myself with arranging everything in the nicest order,”269 a bizarrely cozy version of a trope that normally indicates imperial power more directly. Other common tropes used to represent Egypt were those of the ancient past (sometimes seen as still existing in the present), the theatrical performance, and the picturesque.270

In the case of Turkey, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters (1763) was a key reference. Among significant travel accounts of Turkey, Julia Pardoe’s The City of the Sultan (1837) took over many of Montagu’s key Orientalist tropes—the harem, the Turkish bath, Oriental despotism, women’s sequestration, and slavery—but she offered a more conventional, middle-class take on them. For example, she directly contradicts Montagu’s account of the naked women in the Turkish bath by declaring that she “witnessed none of the unnecessary and wanton exposure described by Lady M. W. Montagu,”271and, deciding that Turkish women have become “more delicate, and fastidious in their ideas of propriety” since Montagu’s time, thus effectively transforming the exotic world of the hammam and the harem into an essentially bourgeois setting, and generally attempting to “de-Orientalize” the Orient, by countering such stereotypes as “Oriental mysteriousness, mysticism, and magnificence.”272

In relation to the Arabian Peninsula and Mecca, key texts are Richard Burton’s Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah (1855), William Gifford Palgrave’s Personal Narrative of a Year’s Journey Through Central and Eastern Arabia (1862–1863), Lady Anne Blunt’s Pilgrimage to Nejd (1881), with its “authoritative” preface and appendices by her husband, Wilfred Scawen Blunt,273 and Charles Doughty’s Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888). Although two of these works’ titles include the word “pilgrimage,” the writers are generally less concerned with the spiritual dimension of their journey than with personal satisfaction and “discovery.” Indeed, “discovery” is one of the key tropes of these works, along with praise for the Bedouin and implicit or explicit criticism of Western materialism and degeneration, as well as disguise and the “textual attitude.” Like Edward Lane, Burton and Palgrave both disguise themselves. Burton takes on numerous non-European identities: on his journey to Mecca, he is first Mirza, “a Muslim pilgrim from Afghanistan,” and then Shaykh Abdullah, a wandering dervish, anticipating Browning’s ventriloquism as the Sufi dervish, Ferishtah, in Ferishtah’s Fancies (see Orientalism in Victorian Poetry), finally, in Cairo, Burton decides that the Shaykh is “a ‘Pathan.’ Born in India of Afghan parents … [and] educated at Rangoon.”274 More simply, Palgrave disguised himself as an Arab named Khalil. All four works present the Arabian Desert and the Bedouin as an undiscovered and unknown world, with the associated tropes of the panorama, the heroic adventure, and discovery, as Ali Behdad has shown.275 The texts frequently reveal the “textual attitude”; for example, when Lady Anne Blunt specifically counters Palgrave’s description of the Nejd desert, she finds it “charming” rather than a “nightmare of impossible horror,” as in Palgrave, or “an extreme desolation,” as in Doughty.276 Despite these disagreements about the desert, all four writers see the Bedouin as an example of the Noble Savage. Burton says that they belong to the “chivalrous races” and that, like “the North American Indians,” they “have the same wild chivalry, the same fiery sense of honour, and the same boundless hospitality”; they also “despise artificers and the effeminate people of cities.”277 Many aspects of these works look forward to the nostalgic and belated 20th-century Orientalism of works like T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922) or Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands (1959).278

An example of the Middle East (among other places) as “imaginative geography”279 is provided by the “Sotadic Zone” proposed by Richard Burton in the “Terminal Essay” on his “uncastrated” translation of the Arabian Nights (1886–1887).280 This is a zone in which, according to Burton, “the Vice [pederasty] is popular and endemic, held at the worst to be a mere peccadillo,” in contrast to the rest of the world where “the races … practice it only sporadically amid the opprobrium of their fellows.”281 Burton’s description of the zone and his account of the different areas of the world in which it prevails reveal the extent to which it is an “imaginative.” He claims that it includes “meridional France, the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and Greece, with the coast-regions of Africa from Marocco [sic] to Egypt” but also “Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Chaldaea, Afghanistan, Sind, the Punjab and Kashmir,’ as well as “China, Japan and Turkistan,” and finally “the South Sea Islands and the New World.”282 Burton thus adds another twist to the Orientalist tropes related to the Middle East and provides another example of the overlapping of Orientalist discourses in the Victorian period; his association of homosexuality with the Orient will recur in fiction, in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, for example.

Africa in Victorian Travel Writing

Africa emerges in the Victorian period as a more important context for travelers/explorers than for novelists, at least until the later part of the 19th century. Famous travelers include David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, Richard Burton, Joseph Thomson, John Speke,283 and, later, Mary Kingsley, Mary Gaunt, and Mary French-Sheldon. Many of their works became best sellers, and Stanley’s reunion with Livingstone on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, with his possibly apocryphal greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume,” recounted in his 1872 How I Found Livingstone, entered popular culture.

Orientalist tropes in travel writing primarily related to Africa may be divided into the imperialist and the exotic. In the first category, the first and most famous trope is that of the “Dark Continent,” two versions of which appeared in the titles of two of Henry Morton’s Stanley’s travel accounts, Through the Dark Continent (1878) and In Darkest Africa (1890), or, in the case of West Africa, “the white man’s grave,”284 inhabited by primitive men, who are occasionally seen as Noble Savages, although this becomes less prevalent as the 19th century continues, and who are possibly cannibals and/or devoted to witchcraft, infanticide, and unmentionable sexual customs, some of which overlap with descriptions of the Egyptians by Edward Lane and others. (See “The Middle East/Arabia in Victorian Travel Writing.”) Richard Burton, for example, in Wanderings in West Africa (1863), repeatedly identifies black Africans as “barbarous, lawless, and superstitious,” associates them with chimpanzees or gorillas, and repeatedly uses the word “nigger.”285 He states on one occasion that the Kruman is a “noble savage enough in his semi-nudity,” but this observation is preceded by the criticism that the same people have “all that propensity to ape Europeans which characterizes the African generally.”286 Burton admits that cannibalism is an African reality, although he also mocks other travel writers’ accounts of it because of the “hearsay and little eye-sight” and the “ridiculous details” of their works287 Burton’s work thus demonstrates another key feature of travel writing, the “textual attitude.” In Burton’s case, his references to previous works are often critical, as they are in chapter 7 of volume 2, “Gold in Africa,”288 and, indeed, throughout the book.

These tropes of the “Dark Continent” and savagery are often combined with those of the African as child, Britain as the Mother Country, and the imperial traveler as a father or mother figure or as an intrepid explorer, exploring virgin territory; “discovering” rivers, lakes, mountains, peoples (all of which had been known to their inhabitants and also to the Arab slave traders for centuries); mastering both land and people; and dominating them through the imperial gaze, in the form of the “monarch-of-all-I-survey” and panorama tropes. The African as child figures in Burton and Stanley; in Burton, the “Negroes” of Sierra Leone are seen as “spoiled children,” while Stanley describes his Zanzibari men of the expedition as “poor ignorant children of Africa” but also as “heroes” because “they [have] rallied to [his] voice like veterans … in the hour of need.”289 The intrepid explorer and discovery tropes are to be found frequently in Stanley’s Through the Dark Continent, his account of his journey across Africa from the east coast near Zanzibar, along the Congo River, to the west coast. Stanley records his hunting exploits and insists on the hardships and obstacles he and his fellow explorers face, as well as their discoveries.290 In the second volume, there are repeated references to the expedition’s “desperate journey,” its “desperate struggle[s]” with both the environment and its inhabitants, and its “desperate combats.”291 The expedition fights thirty-two battles in the course of their journey down river, and Stanley also records the loss of men by drowning and disease.292 Stanley presents himself as leader, master, savior, and father of the Africans in his expeditionary force, but the African peoples through whose lands they pass are seen as “barbarians,” “savages,” and “cannibals” whose violence is continually stressed.293 One passage may stand as an example of Stanley’s characterization of Africans. He says of the Baganda: “They are crafty, fraudful deceiving, lying, thievish knaves … and seem to be born with an uncontrollable love of gaining wealth by robbery, violence, and murder, in which they resemble … nearly all African tribes.”294 Stanley is often too busy fighting the environment or its inhabitants to pay much attention to the picturesque, although in Zanzibar he does describe “the landscape lying at our feet,” and later, in a gruesome version of the “monarch-of-all I-survey” trope, he looks down on “a grand scene, but a truly terrible one”: “the cruel sea of fire below,” which is “the Waganda … avenging the dead Wavuma with their own hands” in a crowd of “a quarter of a million human beings.”295

Many of these tropes recur but are also ironized in Mary Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa (1897). Kingsley expressly refuses to play the role of the “white hunter” and often mocks both the role and its rhetoric: confronting five elephants, she says, “I know exactly how I ought to have behaved. I should have felt my favourite rifle fly to my shoulder, and then, carefully sighting for [sic] the finest specimen, have fired”; the passage continues in the same vein for several lines, before Kingsley concludes, “but I never have these things happen, and never will.”296 The tropes of the African as cannibal and as child are generally used ironically or satirically, as when Kingsley, commenting on Africans’ propensity to cheat their white masters, refers to them as “the simple children of nature,” distancing herself from the term.297 On a later occasion, the parent/child trope is used both literally and comically, when Kingsley quotes her “men’s” opinion of her, “as they said, I was a Father and a Mother to them, and a very stern though kind set of parents I have been,” and states that she has been thinking “how very perfectly Kipling’s observations on the ’Oont fit the African carrier, for like the commissariat camel, ’E’s a devil an’ an ostrich an’ an orphan child in one.’”298. In her 1901 West African Studies, however, Kingsley criticizes what she calls “a dream-thing, the fiend-child African of [her readers’] imagination,” apparently a response to Kipling’s characterization of colonial subjects in “The White Man’s Burden” as “half devil and half child.”299 Even in the earlier Travels, Kingsley denies that the African is “a degraded, savage, cruel brute,” and she describes the Fans (usually spelt “Fangs),” her traveling companions, as “full of fire, temper, intelligence and go; very teachable, rather difficult to manage, quick to take offence, and utterly indifferent to human life,” adding, “I ought to say that other people who should know him better than I, say he is a treacherous, thievish, murderous cannibal. I never found him treacherous; but then I never trusted him.”300 Kingsley neatly sidesteps the issue of cannibalism, but she simultaneously uses the stereotype of the untrustworthy native, and elsewhere she criticizes Africans’ lack of mechanical ability.301 She identifies with white male explorers, referring to herself as “an Englishman” when describing her ascent of Mount Cameroon, referring to Burton, paying extended tribute to the Italian and French explorers Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza and Paul du Chaillu, and assuming the authority of the ethnographer and the zoologist, other traditionally male preserves. She climbs Mount Cameroon, but on the summit the mountains are covered in mist, so she has no chance to describe a panorama or use the “monarch-of-all-I-survey” trope to dominate the landscape as Burton, Stanley, or Speke do.302

Africans are also associated with idleness (the “lazy native” stereotype) and stupidity,303 features that will recur in Orientalist political discourse, in Thomas Carlyle’s “Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question,” for example. Another common trope is the frequently expressed dislike of the “educated African”: in Mary Kingsley’s memorable phrase, “the missionary-made man is the curse of the Coast,” a sentiment echoed by Richard Burton, among others.304 Burton says of the “S’a [Sierra] Leone man,” the educated African is “an inveterate thief; he drinks, he gambles, he intrigues” and generally leads a life of “ignoble idleness.”305

The use of Orientalist tropes to criticize British society in travel writing is far less important than it is in fiction, although writers like Stanley, Burton, and Mary Kingsley offer scattered examples. These range from criticisms of British imperial or colonial policy (Kingsley’s critique of the Sierra Leone hut tax, or Burton’s criticisms of the British government for its over-tolerant approach, for example), or the use of descriptions of Africa that are turned back to criticize certain aspects of British life.

If Stanley repeatedly describes the majority of Africans as savages and heathens, he also calls for greater development of colonial transport infrastructures like railways, steamers, and, on one occasion, a tramway, and for greater missionary activity.306 On occasion he also compares various aspects of African and English life, for example, the Waganda guards protecting their monarch and the London policemen performing the same function, generally asserting parallels despite the differences between the two cultures.307 Burton follows Stanley in regretting that the natural resources of the African continent are, so far, insufficiently exploited, and criticizes the “Quaker-like peacefulness” of the British colonizers as compared to the French or the Dutch,308 as well as the colonial British systems of law, policing, and taxation.309 He also digresses from his account of West Africa to propose a reform of the colonial administration of India,310 and in these proposals he often advocates the use of military force.

Kingsley’s approach is more nuanced if equally imperialistic. Her main criticism of British imperial policy is directed at the imposition of the hut tax in Sierra Leone,311 but she also criticizes much Protestant missionary activity in Africa, sometimes through comedy, as in her ironic descriptions of a garment called a “hubbard,” and sometimes more directly, as in her critique of mission schools and their negative effects on Africans or her comments about the missionaries’ misrepresentation of Africans’ consumption of alcohol.312 In relation to the latter, she states, “in the whole of West Africa, in one week, there is not one-quarter the amount of drunkenness you can see any night you choose in a couple of hours in the Vauxhall Road.”313 Also, echoing statements made by William Booth and Henry Mayhew in their analyses of London poverty, she declares, “you will not find in a whole year’s investigation on the Coast, one seventieth part of the evil, degradation, and premature decay you can see any afternoon you choose to take a walk in the more densely-populated parts of any of our own towns.”314 In both cases, Kingsley defends African culture against missionary misinterpretation; on other occasions, however, her cultural comparisons work in favor of England. For example, she explains that polygamy is “not an unmixed evil,” giving as one reason the fact that the “African woman” does not have “the work in her of an English or Irish charwoman,” and that “a whole villageful of African woman do not do the work in a week that one of these will do in a day.”315

Orientalism in Political Discourse

Orientalism in Victorian political discourse shares many tropes with the discourse of travel writing and some with that of fiction; unsurprisingly, imperialist Orientalism is the dominant mode. Carlyle may be said to represent both the positive and negative variants of this discourse in his chapter on Mohammed in On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841), on the one hand, and his strictures on the “Negroes” of the Caribbean in his “Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question” (1849), on the other. The writings of James Mill, Thomas Macaulay, Karl Marx, and James Stuart Mill on India (and to a lesser extent on China) offer a consistent and consistently negative deployment of tropes like Oriental despotism, corruption, and misgovernment, the stagnation of Indian and Chinese culture, and the passivity, laziness, untrustworthiness, and potential for violence of the country’s inhabitants, among whom the Bengali is singled out by both Marx and Mills for particular condemnation. Matthew Arnold adds a footnote with his eccentric definition of the English aristocracy as “Barbarians” and his distinction between “Hebraism” and “Hellenism,” and Henry Mayhew and William Booth bring Orientalist stereotypes of barbarism, savagery, and heathenism home to the slums of the Mother Country itself.

In “The Hero as Prophet,” Carlyle’s vision of Mohammed draws on the tropes of hospitality and a version of the Noble Savage to characterize him as “the wild Bedouin” and to locate him in the Arabian Desert in terms that are familiar from travel writing about the area, which Carlyle sums up as “[s]avage inaccessible rock-mountains, great grim deserts, alternating with beautiful strips of verdure.”316 The adjective, “wild,” is a key part of his characterization of Mohammed, who is described as a “spontaneous, passionate, yet just, true-meaning man,” of “wild worth, all uncultured” or “uncultivated”; in short, he is an “uncultured, semi-barbarous Son of Nature.”317 Mohammed is also called “this wild man of the desert” with a “wild sincere heart,” and “wild soul,” and there are repeated assertions that he is “sincere” and free from cant.318 Although Carlyle defends Mohammed from accusations of sensuality, declaring that “[t]oo much” has been written about it, he nonetheless asserts that “Mahomet’s Paradise is sensual, his Hell is sensual,”319 thus making the defense equivocal. By contrast, there is nothing equivocal about the depiction of the West Indian “Negro” in the “Occasional Discourse,” which offers unmitigated condemnation of the Ignoble Savage. Carlyle expatiates at length on the trope of the “lazy native,” or, in his own words, the “idle Black gentleman … rum-bottle in his hand, no breeches on his body, pumpkin at discretion, and the fruitfulest region of the earth going back to jungle around him.”320 He also asserts that it is “the European white man” who has created the productive agricultural economy of the West Indies, since before the whites arrived, the Caribbean islands “had produced mere jungle, savagery, poison-reptiles and swamp-malaria,” and he argues that the “Negroes” must be compelled to work, as slaves if necessary.321 Carlyle also refers to the “Negro” as “poor Quashee,” an individual who is described as “[a] swift, supple fellow; a merry-hearted, grinning, dancing, singing, affectionate kind of creature,”322 words that seem to prefigure the later Blackface Minstrel stereotype of popular entertainment. Some of Carlyle’s tropes reappear in later travel accounts of visits to the West Indies by writers like James Anthony Froude. In The English in the West Indies (1888), Froude declares that the “enormous majority of the Negroes are superstitious” and belong to “an inferior race” that must be ruled by whites because they can make no progress unless they are under English rule; for these reasons, he argues that the English should treat the West Indies like India.323 Toward the end of his work, he argues, like Carlyle, that most “Negroes” are “mere good-natured animals” who normally “eat, drink, sleep, and smoke, and do the least in the way of work that they can,” that they have “no ideas of duty,” and that they are happy as slaves.324

The Indian subcontinent was another place thought to need England’s civilizing mission. Although both James Mill’s The History of British India (1817) and Macaulay’s “Minute on Indian Education” (1835) were published before Queen Victoria ascended the throne, both texts exercised great influence on later writers and laid out the parameters for Victorian Orientalist representations of India. James Mill (himself drawing on a tradition that goes back at least to Edmund Burke)325 identifies the characteristics of India, its people, and its religion in a set of tropes that becomes standard in later writers: corruption, the denial of any previous “golden age” of Hinduism, backwardness, superstition, and barbarous customs (like infanticide and suttee), all to be summed up in the overarching trope of “Oriental despotism.”326 Macaulay, infamously, states that “a single shelf of a good European library [is] worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia” and that the aim in educating Indians should be “to form … a [minority, intermediary] class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”327 In his essays on “Lord Clive” (1840) and “Warren Hastings” (1841), Macaulay refers frequently to the corruption and cruelty of Oriental despotism, notably in the person of the savage Nabob, Surujah Dowlah (or Siraj-ud-daula), the Nawab of Bengal whom he holds responsible for the deaths of a number of British soldiers in the “Black Hole” of Calcutta,328 but he also draws on the tropes of exoticism by reminding his readers that Bengal was known as “the garden of Eden … the rich kingdom,” and evoking the “innumerable retinues and gorgeous decorations” of the “throne of Delhi” and the jewels of “the Peacock Throne” and specifically the diamond, “the inestimable Mountain of Light, which … is now destined to adorn the hideous idol of Orissa.”329

Bengal as the Garden of Eden recalls the Oriental stereotypes of early poems by Tennyson, while the “Mountain of Light” is better known in Britain as the “Koh-i-Noor,” that Wilkie Collins identified as one of the two jewels that inspired The Moonstone.330 Both references once again suggest the overlapping of Victorian Orientalist discourses in the domains of poetry, fiction, and political analysis. In his essay, “Lord Clive,” Macaulay also introduces the metaphor of “the game” in Anglo-Indian politics, later to be so important in Kipling and others, when he says that Clive saw Indian politics as “a game in which nothing was unfair” and thus became “an Indian intriguer.”331 He also singles out Bengalis as embodiments of the Indian defects of laziness, chicanery, and effeminacy: “Whatever the Bengalee does he does languidly … He shrinks from bodily exertion; and, though voluble in dispute, and singularly pertinacious in the war of chicane”; the essay on Hastings repeats these negative stereotypes even more emphatically, adding that “deceit” is the Bengali’s most important characteristic.332 The essay on Hastings also contains a striking example of Orientalism’s “textual attitude,” when Macaulay praises Edmund Burke’s grasp of Indian affairs by arguing that although Burke never went to India, the “burning sun … the rich tracery of the mosque … the elephants with their canopies of state, the gorgeous palanquin of the prince,” and so on “were to him as the objects amidst which his own life had been passed,” that is, “a real country and a real people”: the reality was textual, derived from “those huge bales of Indian information,” “those vast and shapeless masses” through Burke’s “mind,” “reason,” and “imagination.”333

Despite the obvious political differences between their authors, several of Karl Marx’s articles on India and China recycle the same sense of Western superiority to be found in Macaulay or James Mill. Marx’s “The British Rule in India” (1853) represents India as “a world of voluptuousness and a world of woes”; like James Mill, Marx rejects the idea of a previous “golden age of Hindustan,” refers routinely to “Oriental despotism,” asserts the static and passive nature of Indian society in the recurring phrases “from time immemorial” and “this undignified, stagnatory and vegetative life,” and evokes the other side of the coin in his reference to the “wild, aimless, unbounded forces of destruction” of the country.334 In “The Indian Revolt” (1857), however, he argues that the violence of the sepoys in the Indian Mutiny is “indeed appalling, hideous, ineffable,” but also that it is “only the reflex, in a concentrated form, of England’s own conduct in India,” and specifically of the fact that “only some years since, [they] still used to draw revenues from the Juggernaut festivals, protecting and assisting the bloody rites of a religion of cruelty,” a description that condemns both the English colonizers and the Hindu religion.335 Similarly, Marx refers to the “barbarous and hermetic isolation” of China and its people’s “hereditary stupidity” and “hatred against foreigners,” all well-worn tropes of denigration of the Celestial Empire.336

As for John Stuart Mill, while it is true, as Michael Curtis argues, that he “touched on the question of Oriental despotism obliquely rather than centrally,” he does refer, in various works, to the “despotic governments of Asia” and the “horrors of an Oriental despotism.”337 Similarly, while he does not define Indians as inevitably racially inferior, his writings on India nonetheless generally support the actions of the English in India and especially their suppression of “Thuggee and Dacoitee [Banditry],” “Infanticide,” “Suttee,” and “Slavery.”338 He also sees the real danger for democracy as “Chinese stagnation,” although, like Marx, he criticizes the British response to the Indian Mutiny.339

There were dissenting voices, even in the later 19th century, like that of Max Müller, who, in his discussion of Indian religions in India: What It Can Teach Us (1883), in a move reminiscent of the scholarship of William Jones, found in India lessons about the origin of “our own language, the first formation of our own concepts, and the true natural germs of all that is comprehended under the name of civilization, at least the civilization of the Aryan race.”340 Müller’s position may be compared to the enthusiasm of some Victorian writers and architects for Islamic art and decoration.

Anthropological or ethnographic or what would now be called sociological writing uses similar tropes of heathenism and barbarism both in relation to Africa and to the lack of education and potential for violence of the English working classes, especially toward the end of the century. Edward Burnett Tylor was one of the foremost ethnographers to study and articulate “the philosophy of savages,” in Primitive Culture (1871), a work that had a great influence on Mary Kingsley and her Travels in West Africa.341 But as early as 1851 in London Labour and the London Poor, Henry Mayhew uses the travel writing tropes of “the most distant tribes of the earth” and “the undiscovered country” to describe the English urban poor, as well as describing them as “our own heathen,” who are living in “the lowest depths of barbarism.”342 Moreover, at the beginning of the first chapter of London Labour, Mayhew refers to James Cowles Pritchard’s classification in the Natural History of Man (1843) of three “form[s] of the head,” which Mayhew then reduces to two, which are, respectively, typical of what he considers to be the two basic types of human community, those of “the nomadic [or primitive] and the civilised tribes.”343 Moreover, he states that “each civilised or settled tribe has generally some wandering horde intermingled with, and in a measure preying on, it,” and that “wandering horde” is the poor.344 Mayhew’s references to Prichard reveal the crossover between sociological and anthropological discourses and the reliance of both on racial theories such as those of Robert Knox, whose The Races of Men (1850) argued that the Saxon race was congenitally destined to rule the world and destroy other “darker” races.345

Like Mayhew, William Booth uses Orientalist travel-writing tropes in his In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890). The title recycles the Orientalist metaphor of the “Dark Continent,” and the first chapter specifically refers to “the story which Mr. Stanley has told of ‘Darkest Africa,’” and goes on to characterize two types of poor men as “the two tribes of savages, the human baboon and the handsome dwarf.”346 Even Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man (1871) concludes his final chapter by declaring, “I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey … as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practises infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.”347 Darwin’s list of negative Orientalist tropes for the “savage” parallels those of many travel writers, those of Dickens’s ironically entitled essay “The Noble Savage,” and Mayhew’s opposition between the characteristics of the “nomadic [poor] and the “civilised tribes” (see also “Aesthetics and Form in Charles Darwin's Writings”).348 The Descent of Man also contains a number of conventional references to “savages” and “barbarians” and their characteristics, one of them being a love of decoration or attention to personal appearance, which is also singled out by Carlyle in Sartor Resartus (1853), where he argues that “The first spiritual want of a barbarous man is Decoration; as indeed we still see among the barbarous classes in civilised countries,” a formulation that once again reveals the Orientalist tropes common to several different Victorian discourses.349

Finally, in Culture and Anarchy (1869), Arnold offers an eccentric use of “Barbarian” when he assigns it as a description to the English aristocracy, and distinguishes between the “paramount sense of the obligation of duty, self-control, and work,” which he sees as typical of Hebraism, and the “intelligence driving at those ideas which are … the basis of right practice” of Hellenism.350

Orientalism in the Theater and Popular Entertainment

Some of the most important examples of Orientalism in the Victorian theater and in popular entertainment are found in plays dealing with exotic or imperial people and settings or biblical, historical, or contemporary events, panoramas, dioramas, and exhibitions of both artifacts and exotic peoples in museums and other locations. The most important of these were the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the Crystal Palace and later moved to Sydenham, just south of London, and Vauxhall Gardens, a popular place of entertainment in London on the south bank of the Thames. It is hard to separate theater from other forms of popular entertainment in the Victorian period, because the majority of London theaters were not licensed to perform regular drama until 1843, by which time both the two “regular” theaters that were so licensed (Drury Land and Covent Garden) already offered a mixed program of drama and “various minor forms such as equestrian and nautical spectacle, pantomime, melodrama, and burletta,” not to mention farce, melodrama, and burlesque.351

In the case of the very popular panoramas and dioramas, as Edward Ziter argues,352 the Constantinople panorama of Henry Aston Barker (exhibited in 1804, 1846, and 1853–1854) drew on favorite scenes in Orientalist painting, notably the harem, the Turkish bath, and the slave market. Other significant panoramas described by Ziter were Robert Burford’s 1840 panorama, Bombardment of St. Jean D’Acre, with the bombardment celebrating Napoleon’s defeat at the Siege of Acre (1799), an event also to be found in Charles Marshall’s 1841 Kineorama or moving panorama; Burford also exhibited a panorama of Cairo (1847), and its popularity was a factor in the even greater success of the 1850 panorama, the Overland Route to India, based on the travels of Thomas Waghorn and the drawings of David Roberts.353 The growing number of Oriental travelers, however, was perhaps a factor in Albert Smith’s satirical The Overland Mail (1850), which included humorous narratives, impersonations, and songs. Other significant examples of panoramas including Orientalist elements were those at the remodeled Colosseum (1845) and Hayter Lewis’s Royal Panopticon (1854).354 After the 1850s, the popularity of panoramas declined, perhaps because the Great Exhibition led to greater emphasis on the exhibition of exotic artifacts and peoples and the development of theatrical Orientalism, although in 1858, Astley produced The Bombardment and Capture of Canton, using the backdrop of the Second Opium War but putting the emphasis on spectacle.355

In the theater, Orientalist productions included panorama-type spectacles, farce, burlesque, pantomime, ballet, melodrama, and more serious drama: as Ross G. Forman says, whatever their genre, all such productions “conceive of the Middle Kingdom [China] as a site on which to project fantasies about Britain’s role in the world.”356 Forman’s comment applies to other Oriental locations also. Two significant examples of Orientalism on stage are the Drury Lane production of Azaël the Prodigal (1851), based on the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32), and Charles Kean’s Sardanapalus (1853), based on both the work of the same title by Byron and the excavations of Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard, described in his 1849 Nineveh and Its Remains.357 Both works reveal, according to Ziter, a combination of “ethnographic accuracy” and “the sensual displays of an ongoing tradition of theatrical orientalism” through settings like the harem, slave and dancing girls, and so on.358 Sardanapalus was also seen, he argues, as “resuscitating” “the disinterred glories of ancient Nineveh,”359 thus providing a link to the evocation of the past glories of ancient civilizations in Tennyson and Arnold’s early poetry. Farces, pantomimes, and burlesques tended to transform real historical and political events into conventional plot lines: Forman discusses various versions of the pantomime, Aladdin, from the 1850s onward, as well as different types of dramas based on the Chinese arranged-marriage plot and stock comic types and situations, often involving a British Tar (sailor) and a Chinese heroine.360 More serious, moral drama included The Chinese Mother (1857) by Dr. Tanner of Bombay, which dealt with infanticide in Hong Kong and the missionary influence, and which presented its Chinese characters as embodiments of “cruelty, corruption, torture, and child murder”; as Forman argues, the play was thus typical of the more negative representations of China that he sees as typical of the later 19th century.361 One interesting feature of such theatrical Orientalism, as Forman notes, was its tendency to amalgamate Chinese and Japanese cultural features, anticipating other such amalgamations in the works of M. P. Shiel and Sax Rohmer,362 as well as the use of both Japanese and Chinese elements in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Although the exhibition of non-European people had been a feature of London life from the middle of the 16th century onward, Ziter argues that whereas before the 19th century such people had been seen as rare or exceptional, in the course of the Victorian period they came to be regarded as representatives of their particular cultures and environments.363 The case of Saatjie Baartman, known as the Hottentot Venus, who was exhibited in London in 1811 and thereafter in Paris, can be seen as both. As Sander L. Gilman argues, she was regarded as typical of a lower, more primitive species of humanity than white Caucasians, and, as an example of “anomalous female sexuality,” she was often reduced, in both words and images, to her genitalia and her protruding buttocks.364 Although, as Richard D. Altick demonstrates, there was protest at the degrading nature of the way she was exhibited, a court action by the African Association to have her released and allowed to return to South Africa was dismissed, and, after she died in Paris of smallpox and bad medical treatment, her body was dissected by Georges Cuvier, thus even in death, not escaping her reduction to an imperial commodity and spectacle.365 By 1848, her name has become synonymous with unattractive black women, as is revealed in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair when George Osborne refuses to marry the heiress from St. Kitts, Miss Swartz, who, it is hinted, is half Jewish and half black, declaring, “I’m not going to marry a Hottentot Venus.”366 One significant example of members of a non-European people who were taken as representatives of their race and culture can be found in the Zulus who were exhibited in London in 1853, described by Charles Dickens as “Zulu kaffirs,” and as such typical of “savage” life, that is, “cruel, false, thievish, [and] murderous.”367 Other non-European peoples on show in London were the two Arab snake charmers who performed in Regent’s Park zoo in 1850, the Tunisians at the “Tunisian Court” at the Great Exhibition in 1851, or the Algerian family exhibited in Vauxhall Gardens in the same year; there were also Native Americans and Chinese.368 In another example, which united the panorama with the exhibition of live exotic people, there were the Syrian performers in the Holy Land Panorama that was part of the Great Exhibition and, like the theatrical productions, it combined ethnographic seriousness with conventional images of Oriental exoticism, fantasy, and sensuality.369 One locus classicus of these latter qualities was The Arabian Nights, and many contemporary reviews described these exotic people (and others, like the Indians at the Great Exhibition) in terms of the Nights,370 underlining the tendency in Victorian Orientalism to perpetuate established textual (or visual) stereotypes of the East rather than to demand fidelity to contemporary reality.

Toward the end of the 19th century, in the 1880s and 1890s, musical productions like W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s The Mikado (1885) or Sidney Jones’s The Geisha (1896) continued the tradition of theatrical Orientalism, using Japanese settings. John M. MacKenzie argues that the first was generally accepted to be “a satire upon English politics and society,”371 illustrating the social criticism that was often one of the functions of Victorian Orientalism. In a very different register, the late 19th century also saw the production of the French version of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé (1896) in Paris.372 The play exploits Wilde’s version of several types of Orientalist rhetoric. Jews are presented as disputatious and obsessed with the minutiae of religious dogma, the Nubian talks about the human sacrifices practiced by his people, and, most centrally, both Herod and Salomé are associated with death and transgressive sexuality: Herod has incestuous desires for Salomé, his daughter, and Salomé wishes to seduce the prophet, Jokanaan (John the Baptist). 373 Herod also uses standard exotic Orientalist tropes of jewels and peacocks decorated with gold to try to persuade Salomé to dance for him.374

Orientalism in Victorian Architecture

In the field of architecture, it is perhaps first necessary to distinguish between Orientalist architecture in Britain and Orientalist architecture outside Britain in places like India, Egypt, or Turkey.MacKenzie gives an excellent overview of the first in “Orientalism in Architecture,”375 while in Empire Building: Orientalism and Victorian Architecture (1996), Mark Crinson offers a survey of British writers’ and architects’ attitudes toward Islamic and Byzantine art in the second half of the 19th century, as well as detailed discussion of some British-designed buildings that incorporated Orientalist features in Alexandria, Istanbul, and Jerusalem.

Although MacKenzie identifies Orientalism in Victorian architecture in Britain itself as primarily what he calls “‘demotic Orientalism,’ an architecture for popular culture,” to be seen in theaters, cinemas, piers (like that of Brighton on the south coast of England), railway stations, and so on,376 one of the most famous 19th-century Orientalist buildings in England, the Brighton Pavilion, also known as the Royal Pavilion, was constructed for George, the prince of Wales, who became the prince regent in 1811 and ascended the throne as George IV in 1820. Built in three stages from 1787 to 1822, it still stands and is now a museum.

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Figure 1: Brighton Pavilion.

Photograph by flamenco. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Figure 2: Flinders Street Melbourne Railway Station.

Photograph by Adam. J. W. C. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In his discussion of “demotic Orientalism” in architecture, MacKenzie also singles out Indian, Chinese, and Egyptian influences in some elements of gardens, experimental buildings, tearooms, smoking rooms, and billiard rooms, seeing the Indian features as being the most adaptable to European building styles.377 But the list of contexts for Victorian Orientalism also extends to parks, both in their “bandstands, ‘kiosks’ and conservatories or palm-houses,” where Kew would be an obvious example, but also in details like “rooflines, domes, ironwork, statuary and the palms themselves.”378 As MacKenzie says, such elements clearly alluded to “a generalised exotic Other, vaguely related to the East” and can be seen as the architectural equivalent of the “Europe’s collective day-dream of the Orient,” as V. G. Kiernan calls it, to be found in many of Tennyson’s early poems, and elsewhere.379 MacKenzie argues that the Egyptian style was more unusual, but he notes the famous exception of the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly.380 MacKenzie draws attention to the role of Orientalist architecture in the Great Exhibition in 1851, other London exhibitions in 1862, the Colonial and India Exhibition of 1886, and the Glasgow exhibition of 1888. In all of these except the last, there were “specific geographical courts,” but it was in Glasgow that “a major exhibition was housed in unashamedly Orientalist buildings,” and the Glasgow 1901 Exhibition was “dominated by an industrial hall in the form of a vaguely eastern palace.”381 Moreover, Ziter notes the “fanciful invention” in the Orientalist theater architecture of Frank Matcham.382

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Figure 3: Frank Matcham, architect, The Richmond Theatre, 1899.

Photograph by Robert Freidus. Formatting and perspective correction by George P. Landow. Courtesy of The Victorian Web.

MacKenzie also comments on the eclecticism of the work of James Fergusson, who “saw lessons in Indian, Arab and Moorish architecture” and proposed the fusion of “‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ form” with Gothic, as well as the “classical, Egyptian and other Orientalist features” in Alexander Thomson’s St Vincent Street Church (1859).383

Mark Crinson discusses eclecticism as an important characteristic of Victorian architecture, both in Victorian theoretical discussions of Islamic and Byzantine architecture and in buildings designed by British architects in Alexandria (Egypt), Istanbul, and Jerusalem. Like MacKenzie, he singles out Fergusson, especially his theories on ancient Indian architecture and his belief that it “could be an example to modern European architects,” and his role in helping design the Abyssinian Court at the Great Exhibition at Sydenham.384 Crinson comments on the combination of conventional [Western] houses and “Islamic ornament,” or of “eastern effects and western technology,” in buildings designed by Owen Jones, on James Wild’s “controlled Orientalist eclecticism,” in such buildings as Christ Church, Streatham (London), and on William Burges’s design for the Crimean Memorial Church in Istanbul, which “match[es] his design with an imagined Turkish environment.”385

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Figure 4: Own Jones, designer, and Francis Bedford, lithographer, Egyptian No. 1, 1865. The New York Public Library.

Courtesy of The Victorian Web.

Like Altick, Ziter, and MacKenzie, Curtin also points out the importance of pastiche or imitation Orientalist architecture in the world of Victorian exhibitions.386

Orientalism in Victorian Art

Victorian Orientalist art is a varied field that can be divided into several categories, in most of which exoticist and imperialist tropes dominate: depictions of patriotic or historically important events and people related to the British Empire; portraits of Europeans in non-European dress; maps (both standing alone and in paintings); Oriental women in the harem, the Turkish bath, or the slave market;387 sketches, paintings, or photographs of places, people, animals, and plants, produced by travelers on their journeys; and illustrations to works as different from one another as the Arabian Nights and Wilde’s Salomé. To some extent, Orientalism in Victorian art deals in similar topics and tropes to those of Victorian literature, that is, the exotic, the imperialist, and the socially critical. Linda Nochlin’s article “The Imaginary Orient” offers a politically aware analysis of exoticist and imperialist Orientalist tropes in the paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme and Eugène Delacroix. Interestingly, however, in “Orientalism and Art” (1995), Mackenzie pays no attention at all to the imperialist category, perhaps because he wishes to modify Edward Said’s argument about Orientalism and its links to the imperial project,388 although the catalogue of an exhibition at Tate Britain (November 25, 2015 to April 10, 2016) contains many examples of such imperialist paintings. MacKenzie identifies themes like chivalry, the hunt, religion, and education, as well as paintings that seem to offer images of the East as an alternative to modern industrial squalor, notably images of the desert,389 a theme (and a landscape) that also figures in the works of some travelers. He also usefully points out that Victorian Orientalist art was more strongly influenced by “the proximity of the Islamic Near East, its ancient, biblical and classical associations” and the development of Mediterranean tourism than it was by “direct imperial rule.”390

Imperialist Orientalism is to be found in paintings of historical or patriotic events, places, or people such as Gordon at Khartoum, various “last stands,” and the slaughter of British women and children at Cawnpore. Many of these paintings are representations of British dignity in the face of adversity and defeat, like George William Joy’s The Death of General Gordon, Khartoum, 26th January, 1885 (1893), which shows Gordon, wearing a fez but otherwise in European dress, looking down, grave but unmoved, as he is threatened by a crowd of white-clad, turbaned figures pointing spears at him. Although Gordon is about to be killed, the positioning of the white-clad figures on the stairs suggests, ironically, that they are kneeling to him.391 Other examples of the “dignity in defeat” motif are the pictures of the “last stands” at Isandlhula (during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879–1880), the Shangani (during the first Matabele War of 1893), or at Gundamuck (Gandamak) (during the first Afghan War in 1842).392 In all of these pictures, a group of heroic British soldiers stands upright in the center, surrounded by menacing opposing forces or, in the case of two of them, by a menacing natural environment. A variation on this theme is Elizabeth Butler’s The Remnants of an Army: Jellelabad, January 13th, 1842 (1879), where the center of the picture is held by a single figure, Dr. William Brydon, as apparently (but not actually) the sole survivor of the British retreat from Kabul.393 Joseph Noel Paton’s In Memoriam (1858) depicts the slaughter of British women and children at Cawnpore, while the relatively rare allegorical genre is represented by the paintings Retribution (1858) by Edward Armitage and The Secret of England’s Greatness (c. 1863) by Thomas Jones Barker.394 These dramatize respectively the (justified) violence and the beneficence of the imperial mission. Retribution has a gigantic Britannia (or Justice) about to put a Bengal tiger to the sword; at her feet lie a dead white woman and a still-living child, while in the background an Oriental building to the right and a palm tree to the left indicate the Indian context. The allegorical meaning of The Secret of England’s Greatness is partly explained by the painting’s subtitle: “Queen Victoria Presenting a Bible in the Audience Chamber at Windsor,” the kneeling recipient of the Bible being an African richly dressed and bejeweled, like the Queen herself, who is standing and therefore dominating her African colonial subject.

There are also many portraits of travelers in Oriental “disguise,” that is, in local costume, like Captain Colin MacKenzie in Afghan costume (c. 1842), after he had been taken as a hostage by the Afghan chief Muhammad Akbar Kahn, and Sir John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, Governor-General of Canada (1937), wearing the feathered headdress or “War bonnet” of the Kainaiwa Indians,395 the latter merging exoticist and imperialist Orientalism.

Yet another type of imperialist Orientalism is seen in paintings including the maps that represented the British Empire (with countries and whole continents colored pink), which survived well into the 20th century, like Walter Crane’s Imperial Federation: Map of the World Showing the Extent of the British Empire in 1886, published as a supplement to the illustrated paper The Graphic on July 24, 1886.396 Maps also appeared in paintings as props indicating Britain’s empire, as in James Jacques Tissot’s Frederick Burnaby (1870), where the Captain “lounges beneath a map of the East and Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to Borneo,” emphasizing Britain’s imperial power in the area, or in John Everett Millais’s The North-West Passage (1874), where the map lies surrounded by other impedimenta of empire: a telescope, flags, and logbooks.397 However, although Millais’s picture was exhibited with the jingoistic phrase “It might be done, and England should do it,” the sailor at the center of the picture is an old man, seemingly retired from active service and being read to by a young woman, with none of the arrogance or self-confidence exuded by the Burnaby portrait.

A more miscellaneous group of paintings focuses on Oriental women in the harem, the Turkish bath, or the slave market, where exoticist Orientalism is the dominant feature. In these pictures, the main focus is on the woman, although there are also male figures: the harem guards, the purchasers of the slave girls, or simply male onlookers. Kabbani has identified the common qualities in many of these paintings as “female nudity, rich and sequestered interiors, jewels, hints of lesbianism, sexual languour, and sexual violence,” although as Reina Lewis has pointed out, English/Victorian Orientalist art was “far less obviously salacious” than its French counterpart.398 As Lewis observes, Victorian Orientalist art was characterized more by “the archaeological landscapes of David Roberts, the illustrated travelogues of Edward William Lane and Edward Lear, the detailed and allegedly well-researched pictures of John Frederick Lewis, and the typological biblical canvases of William Holman Hunt,” rather than the “explicit sexual fantasies” of French Orientalist art.399 Many of the points that Kabbani makes about Orientalist art apply more to French artists than to their English counterparts. For example, she argues that the female nude in Orientalist art is the focus of the spectator’s vision, portrayed as helpless and/or as a sex object subjected to a voyeuristic gaze, and seen as “erotic because exotic”;400 this is true of such paintings as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s Le Bain Turc (The Turkish Bath) (1862) or Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Le Marché d’Esclaves (The Slave Market) (no date). But in paintings by John Frederick Lewis such as The Harem (c. 1850), The Reception (1873), or The Siesta (1876), the women are dressed, not nude, and although they are the main focus of the viewer’s vision, the richly decorated and carefully portrayed background also demands attention.

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Figure 5: John Frederick Lewis, The Harem, 1876. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Figure 6: John Frederick Lewis, A Lady Receiving Visitors (The Reception), 1873. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Lewis’s The Siesta resembles many Orientalist representations of the Odalisque and recalls the poems by Emily Pfeiffer as well as the strictures of Lucy Snowe in Villette (1853), when she looks disapprovingly on the portrait of Cleopatra painting, seeing it as “an enormous piece of claptrap,” where “the indolent gipsy-giantess, the Cleopatra,” has used yards of drapery and is still covered only with “inefficient raiment.”401 In addition to these types of Orientalist art, many travelers sketched or painted the ruins of former civilizations in the countries they visited: David Roberts in the Middle East, Fanny Parkes in India, Marianne North in the Middle East and Africa, Lady Anne Blunt in Arabia, and Stanley in Africa.

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Figure 7: Louis Haghe, lithographer, and David Roberts, Ruined Mosques in the Desert, West of the Citadel, published between 1846 and 1849. Library of Congress.

But to these topics of Victorian Orientalist painting must be added a miscellaneous collection of illustrations to various types of works. The largest group is perhaps the various popular editions, collections, and adaptations of The Arabian Nights, especially those for children, published in the second half of the 19th century (see also “Illustrated Victorian Fiction”). Notable examples are William Harvey’s illustrations to Lane’s translation of the Nights as well as Dalziel’s Illustrated Arabian Nights (1863 to 1865), the later having images by a variety of artists, including Gustave Doré and Aubrey Beardsley. Examples of such illustrations are given in Caracciolo’s The Arabian Nights in English Literature.402 Beardsley also illustrated Wilde’s Salome, while one of Doré’s illustrations for Blanchard Jerrold’s London: A Pilgrimage (1872) was “Opium Smoking—the Lascar’s Room in Edwin Drood.”403

Rudyard Kipling

Kipling’s works continue the three main strands of Victorian literary Orientalism: the exotic,404 the imperialist, and the socially critical, but they also reflect the fact that, in the late 19th century, literary Orientalism merged with imperialism and colonialism. Kipling’s attitudes toward Orientalism and imperialism are complex and contradictory. His depictions of the period’s jingoism, its concern with the “Great Game” (the Anglo-Russian power struggle being played out in Afghanistan and adjoining regions), the role of the military in Britain’s colonies, and other topics reflect the interdependence of the Orientalist perspective and imperial realities. Some of his works, notably poems such as “Our Lady of the Snows” (1897), use conventional imperialist imagery of England as the Mother Country and the Colony (here Canada) as child, but other works are much more equivocal.405 Kim (1901) brings together both exoticizing and imperialist Orientalism: its form is hybrid, a combination of the episodic novel, the Bildungsroman, and the late Victorian imperial adventure novel. Kim criticizes the parochial nature of some forms of Christianity and can also be seen as a dramatization of the imperialistic science of ethnography. The opium that figures in the lives of some of Kipling’s short stories’ characters—“The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows” (1884) for example—links him to Dickens (Edwin Drood), Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the Sherlock Holmes books).

The overlapping of literary Orientalism and imperialism is reflected in some original aspects of Kipling’s work. First, many of his characters speak nonstandard English, indicating a new concern with class in imperial settings. For example, many of Kipling’s poems in Barrack-Room Ballads (1892), like “Tommy” and “The Widow at Windsor,” criticize the ruling powers of the army and the government from the point of view of the ordinary, uneducated, working-class soldier. Second, some of Kipling’s poems—those in Departmental Ditties (1898), for example—and some of his prose works, such as the short-story collections Plain Tales from the Hills (1888), Soldiers Three (1888), and The Phantom Rickshaw and Other Tales (1888), show his awareness of administrative corruption and manipulation in the Indian Civil Service and the social rivalries and jealousies of British civilians in India. Third, there is a new emphasis on the role of a certain type of education in creating the personnel necessary for fighting imperial wars and running British colonies, as demonstrated in the short-story collection Stalky and Co. (1899), whose setting is based on the school Kipling himself attended.406 Fourth, the Orientalist leitmotif of “past glory” is adapted to describe the probable future demise of the contemporary British Empire in “Recessional,” which both commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and expresses the fear that her empire will one day be lost to history: “Lo, all our pomp of yesterday / Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!” says the speaker.407 Finally, the two Jungle Books (1894 and 1895) and the Just So Stories (1902) extend the use of Orientalist leitmotifs in fable form to the realm of children’s literature.

Kipling’s attitude toward empire is complex and at times contradictory, perhaps because of his concern with class and his ambivalence about hierarchies.408 Some works are openly and unambiguously imperialistic, like the poem “Ave Imperatrix!” Written on the occasion of an attempted assassination of Queen Victoria in 1882, it evokes the Indian Mutiny and the Afghan Wars and declares that “all are bred to do your will / … wherever flies / The Flag … / And work your Empire’s destinies.”409 But other works do not simply endorse imperialistic values. Even in “The White Man’s Burden,” there is indirect admission of negative aspects of the imperial mission through the (perhaps unintentionally ironic) words “the savage wars of peace,” and the recognition that the imperial enterprise is “mark[ed]” by “dead” colonizers and the “hate” of the colonized.410 Many of Kipling’s other works record the death, disease, exile, boredom, and/or psychological disturbances of those involved in imperialism. The poems “The Exiles’ Line” (1890), “The Song of the Dead” (1893), “The Galley Slave” (1890), and “Private Ortheris’s Song” (1891) all testify to the mundane and destructive aspects of colonialism,411 as do the short stories “The Three Musketeers” (1887), “The Madness of Private Ortheris” (1888), “The Phantom Rickshaw” (1888), and “At the End of the Passage” (1890). Even The Man Who Would Be King (1888) shows the ultimate futility of the conquering impulse in its depiction of the fate of its protagonists, Carnehan and David Dravot: they become “Kings” of a native people who are tricked into believing them gods, but the impostors are ultimately destroyed when their humanity is revealed.

Occasionally, poems evoke the possibility of transcending the East/West opposition, as in “The Ballad of East and West” (1889), or of thinking outside the usual binary oppositions of imperialist thought. The “Ballad” begins with the well-known line, “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” but it continues by asserting (and demonstrating through the events of the tale), “But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, no Birth, / When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!412 Moreover, in a late poem, “We and They” (1926), Kipling challenges the binary opposition between “we” and “they,” which Edward Said identifies as the cornerstone of Orientalist (and imperialist) thinking, by concluding, after making a series of contrasts between English or European and non-European habits, that “if you cross over the sea, / Instead of over the way, / You may end by (think of it!) looking on We / As only a sort of They!”413

This ability to envisage transcending Orientalism’s binary oppositions can surely be related to Kipling’s sympathy with people who act outside conventional civilian or military hierarchies, like the protagonists of The Man Who Would Be King and the eponymous heroes of Stalky and Co. and Kim. In the first of these, Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot are, as Angelia Poon notes, “misfits operating from within the cracks of a colonial system” in India.414 In “Slaves of the Lamp, II” Stalky is reported to have extended the former mastery over his schoolboy companions to his soldiers (shown in his ability to reconcile Pathans with Sikhs), and to be able to manipulate the enemy as he formerly manipulated his teachers, causing the two normally opposed factions who have joined together in an alliance against the British to revert to their traditional rivalry (and so destroy their offensive). He does all this by ignoring military regulations when necessary, just as he had ignored or worked around school regulations in earlier stories. The story closes with the first-person narrator asserting that “India’s full of Stalkies” and that “the surprises will begin when there is a really big row on,” and that those who are to be surprised are “The gentlemen who go to the front in first-class carriages,”415 that is, the ruling class, whether civilian or military.

Like Stalky and Co, Kim reflects Kipling’s fondness for outsiders, with its Irish/Oriental protagonist and its Tibetan lama who is an outsider in India, albeit a respected one. However, as Edward Said argues, the novel as a whole assumes the beneficent presence of the British Empire in India and presents a sanitized view of its history. For example, the Indian Mutiny veteran whom Kim and the lama meet was one of the very few Sepoys (the Indian soldiers in the British colonial army) who stayed loyal to their commanders in the Indian Mutiny, and he describes it as an act of “madness” on the part of his compatriots.416 The novel generally offers a rose-colored presentation of the British Army and the British Secret Service in India, the latter run by Colonel Creighton and including among its agents the Pathan, Mahbub Ali, the Bengali, Hurree Babu, and of course Kim. Kim can enjoy all the pleasures of India as exotic adventure due to the pax Britannica of the Raj: he is of Irish background and initially identifies with the Indians, but he is then educated as a “Sahib” and, at the age of sixteen, sent out on the road to serve Creighton. His “Sahib” identity is also complicated by the fact that toward the end of the novel, he identifies himself as the lama’s chela or disciple. Along with the endorsement of the British presence in India and the casual negative stereotypes of Indians or “Orientals,”417 the novel also suggests a religious tolerance similar to that proposed by Tennyson in “Akbar’s Fane” and Browning in Ferishtah’s Fancies. The lama’s search for salvation and escape from the Wheel of Life is treated seriously and dominates the final pages of the novel, and although Mahbub Ali tells Kim, “Thou art beyond question an unbeliever, and therefore thou wilt be damned. So says my Law—or I think it does,” he also continues, “But thou art also my Little Friend of all the World, and I love thee,” and “for myself—but that I am a good Sunni … I could believe the same of all the Faiths.”418

Kipling’s taste for nonconformists may also be seen in the way some of his poems challenge conventional views of empire by using speakers of nonstandard English or non-English speakers, or by praising non-native peoples. Examples of the first are to be found in the two series of The Barrack-Room Ballads, in poems such as “Tommy,” “The Widow at Windsor,” or “Shillin’ a Day” (1892), while poems like “The Song of the Women” (1888), “The Lament of The Border Cattle Thief “ (1888), and “Hadramauti” (1922) offer examples of non-native speakers.419 The first line of “Hadramauti” is “Who knows the heart of the Christian? How does he reason?”; this reverses the conventional Orientalist stereotype of the inscrutable and inexplicable Easterner (which is, however, also to be found in Kipling, in “One Viceroy Resigns” (1888), and Kim, for example).420 Such poems illustrate the fact that Kipling may be said to be ahead of his time in allowing the subaltern to speak, even if their speech is often mediated through the narrator’s hegemonic discourse of standard English. If Gayatri Spivak argues in “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (1985) that “The subaltern cannot speak,”421 since she is subject to the categories of the dominant discourse that relegate her to a position of silent subalternity, Kipling nevertheless gives a voice to and finds a space for such subaltern voices, albeit in mediated form. Other poems like “Gunga Din” (1890) and “Fuzzy-Wuzzy” (1892) are well-known examples of Kipling’s respect for some non-European individuals and peoples. “Gunga Din” ends with the British soldier-speaker recognizing that the Indian water carrier is “a better man than [he is],” and the speaker in “Fuzzy-Wuzzy” declares the Sudanese native fighter “a pore benighted ’eathen but a first-class fightin’ man,”422 and thus worthy of respect. Kipling is far from a simple jingoistic propagandist for empire; his loyalty to the imperial project was long lasting, but it did not preclude criticism or an awareness of the complexities of non-European peoples or places.

After the Victorians

The early 20th century saw the development of several strands of Victorian Orientalism in the domains of literature, political discourse, and popular journalism. In literature and popular journalism, representations of non-European culture and peoples both continue standard negative Victorian images and offer new, more positive representations. Forman describes early 20th-century representations of the Chinese in the East End of London as divided between the stereotypes of the opium den and the dangerous, treacherous Chinese and a new, more positive, images. As he shows, examples of the latter appear in the short story “Ti Ling of London” (1905) by George R. Sims, the short-story collection Limehouse Nights (1916) by Thomas Burke, and Sims’s 1889 tracts How the Poor Live and Horrible London, while the conventionally negative tropes of the opium den and the untrustworthy Oriental are developed in Sax Rohmer’s Fu-Manchu novels, which add a new emphasis on the evil Oriental mastermind and the horrors of reverse colonization.423 As Forman argues, some of these tropes are derived from the works of Wilkie Collins or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:424 for example, Sir Dennis Nayland Smith, Fu-Manchu’s opponent, can be seen as a direct descendant of the old India hand, Mr. Murthwaite, in The Moonstone and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Moreover, the linkage of “sex, drugs, and national security” in Sax Rohmer recalls some of the Sherlock Holmes stories,425 and the fears of reverse colonization that surface in Sax Rohmer’s novels also have a Victorian ancestor in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), where Count Dracula intends to conquer Britain through the propagation of the undead. Another novel that plays out the reverse-colonization plot in a different geographical context is John Buchan’s Greenmantle (1916), which is based on the idea that the threat to Christian Europe comes from a combination of German aggression and the German manipulation of Islamic fanaticism in the shape of the charismatic figure of “Greenmantle.” The original Greenmantle, who is never identified, dies, and the four Westerners involved in the “Great Game” to defeat the Germano-Islamic plot ultimately defeat the forces of evil represented by the German Stumm, who calls himself “the Colonel von Stumm who fought the Hereros,” thus identifying himself with genocide,426 and by Hilda von Einem, who, like Rider Haggard’s Ayesha in She, is powerful, beautiful, fascinating, and evil. Richard Hannay and his fellow Westerners embark on a journey to Constantinople and employ strategies of disguise and information gathering that hark back to both Victorian travel writing and novels like Kipling’s Kim, although Buchan’s novel’s closing chapters offer pro-war propaganda entirely lacking in Kipling’s novel.

An early 20th-century novel that offers a twist on some of these ideas is Bram Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud (1909), where the East at first acts as a signifier for the accumulation of wealth by a Westerner (as it had done in some Victorian fiction). When it is first introduced, the Land of the Blue Mountains in the Balkans seems to be an avatar of Bram Stoker’s country of origin, Ireland (or perhaps Scotland), because it is represented as a small country whose independence is threatened by the larger and more powerful nations that surround it. However, a third of the way through the novel, the Westerner, Roger Melton, who has amassed a vast fortune in the East, and who has previously acted as a benefactor to the current Voivoide (or ruler) of the Land of the Blue Mountains by enabling him to keep his castle and estate, bequeaths the bulk of his fortune to his nephew, Rupert Saint Leger, on condition that he go and live in the castle. From this point on, Saint Leger becomes progressively more identified with the destiny of his adopted country. By the end of the novel, he has married the Voivode’s daughter, Teuta, and led the Vissarion forces successfully against kidnappings of various members of the royal family and invasion, both orchestrated by the Turks who are seen as the primary aggressors (although the country is also seen as threatened by Austrian, German, and Russian imperialism). Finally, Saint Leger is named as King or Voivode by universal acclaim, instituting a British-style constitutional monarchy and developing the admittedly romanticallyseen “barbaric” nation into Western capitalism, civilization, and technology if not exactly democracy, thereby completely undermining any initial identification of the Vissarions and the colonized Irish. The novel both exploits and undermines the identification of the east of Europe with the threateningly uncanny: Teuta, the “lady of the shroud” of the title, first appears vampire-like to Rupert Saint Leger, but her apparently uncanny appearance is later explained through a retrospective plot twist in which the determining factor is the superstitious nature of the Vissarion people, thus repeating the association of the East and primitive modes of thought exploited in Dracula.

Both Greenmantle’s negative representations of Germans and Stoker’s reference to Austrian, German, and Russian aggression recall some of Conrad’s works, for instance, his South Sea novels or his political essays, where he describes both Russia and Germany through negative Orientalist tropes. In the essay, “Autocracy and War” (1921), Russia is described as “a ravenous ghoul … a blind Djinn grown up from a cloud,” and a country whose “despotism [is] utterly un-European.”427 In another essay, Germany is “that race … assuming in grotesque vanity the attitude of Europeans among effete Asiatics or barbarous niggers; and … anxious to take up … ‘the perfect man’s burden.’”428 Conrad’s adaptation of Kipling’s “white man’s burden” emphasizes Germany’s arrogance and British fear of its imperialist ambitions as well as Conrad’s own Eurocentrism and racism. Similarly, Forman points out that “Asiatic invasion novels” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including George Tomkyns Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking (1871) or Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (1903), often suggest that the war between Europe and Asia will be preceded by a war between England and Germany.429

In other early 20th-century works, such as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925) or The Waves (1931), the empire continues to function at the periphery of the text, although here it is seen through Peter Walsh, an English colonial administrator, who returns to London after many years in India, rather than through any characters who are exiled to the colonies. In E. M. Forster’s Passage to India (1924), the ambivalence of much Victorian Orientalism is at the very center of the narrative, and in the final part of T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (1922), the allusions to the Upanishads, the ancient Sanskrit text, “Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata” and “Shantih Shantih Shantih,” mean, respectively, “Give, sympathize, control” and “The Peace which passeth understanding,”430 and indicate that Eliot is using ancient Indian civilization as a corrective to the debased Western urban culture he dramatizes in the poem, thus continuing and modifying one Romantic tradition of Victorian Orientalism.

Discussion of the Literature

There are many responses to and critiques of Said’s Orientalism, and it is impossible to list them all here.431 One recent collection, Debating Orientalism, edited by Ziad Elmarsafy et al. (2013), contains two especially useful essays on postcolonial Orientalist discourse. Donna Landry’s “Said before Said,” argues that the Ottoman Empire can be seen as having “proto-Orientalist strains … during the two-and-a half centuries before Orientalism-as-such,”432 and Nicholas Tromans examines the more nuanced approach to visual material in Said’s later works.

There is no one work covering Orientalism in Victorian literature as a whole, or the genres of fiction or poetry. In relation to drama, Edward Ziter’s The Orient on the Victorian Stage (2003)433 and Ross G. Forman’s China and the Victorian Imagination: Empires Intertwined (2013) provide excellent starting points. Useful works on fiction include Forman’s work as well as Stephen Arata, Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siècle (1996), Chris Bongie’s Exotic Memories: Literature, Colonialism, and the Fin de Siècle (1991), Patrick Brantlinger’s Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–-1914 (1988), Peter L. Caracciolo’s The Arabian Nights in English Literature: Studies in the Reception of The Thousand and One Nights into British Culture (1988), Suvendrini Perera’s Reaches of Empire: The English Novel from Edgeworth to Dickens (1991), Sara Suleri’s The Rhetoric of English India (1992), and Nadia Valman’s The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture (2007). Serviceable if limited introductions to Orientalism in Victorian poetry are Hasan Javadi’s Persian Literary Influence on English Literature, with Special Reference to the Nineteenth Century (2005) and Syed Faiz Zaidi’s Victorian Literary Orientalism: A Critical Study of Arnold, Browning, Carlyle, and Tennyson (2010).

Several works deal with the specifically Irish dimension of Orientalism, imperialism, and colonialism in the 19th century. Joseph Lennon’s Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (2008) is vast in scope, and contains chapters on 18th- and 19th-century literature, the interrelation of Ireland and India in the imperial period, and William Butler Yeats. Paul Delaney offers some excellent analysis of Anthony Trollope’s depictions of Jewish characters in Literature, Money and the Market: From Trollope to Amis (2002). Emer Nolan in Catholic Emancipations: Irish Fiction from Thomas Moore to James Joyce (2007) is particularly effective in showing the connections between political developments and literary forms, but Jim Hansen’s Terror and Irish Modernism: The Gothic Tradition from Burke to Beckett (2009) at times fails to establish such links convincingly, notably in the discussion of Oscar Wilde.

In the fields of entertainment, the arts, and architecture, Richard D. Altick’s The Shows of London (1978) includes an account of representations of the Orient in various types of entertainment, ”and John M. MacKenzie’s Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (1995) covers both theater and the arts. Linda Nochlin’s essay “The Imaginary Orient” (1989) is still an invaluable exercise in the adaptation of Said’s ideas about Orientalism and its relation to imperialism in painting, while Rana Kabbani’s chapter on “The Sultan’s Seraglio” in Imperial Fictions: Europe’s Myths of Orient (1994), although somewhat overstated, is nonetheless interesting. Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past, edited by Alison Smith et al. (2015), divides imperial artistic representations into the categories of mapping, trophies, power dressing, portraiture, and the imperial heritage in 20th and 21st century art, but does not offer any theorization of its analyses. In the field of architecture, Mark Crinson’s 1996 Empire Building: Orientalism and Victorian Architecture offers a compelling overview of the topic.

As with Victorian literature, there is no general study of Orientalism in Victorian travel writing or political discourse. In the field of travel writing, Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992) develops some of Said’s ideas in Orientalism, calls for the inclusion of the voices of non-Europeans/non-Westerners in discussions of Europe’s view of non-Europeans, and introduces the terms, “contact zones,” “anti-conquest,” and “autoethnography” in order to broaden Said’s approach. Ali Behdad’s Belated Travelers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (1994), Geoffrey Nash’s From Empire to Orient: Travellers to the Middle East, 1830–1926 (2005), and Billie Melman’s Women’s Orients: English Women and the Middle East, 1718–-1918, Sexuality, Religion and Work (1995) offer differing approaches to Orientalist texts dealing with one important area. In relation to political discourse, Michael Curtis’s Orientalism and Islam: European Thinkers on Oriental Despotism in the Middle East and India (2009) provides an excellent discussion of one dimension of imperialist Orientalism.

Further Reading

Altick, Richard D.The Shows of London. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.Find this resource:

Arata, Stephen. Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siècle. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Behdad, Ali. Belated Travelers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 1994.Find this resource:

Bongie, Chris. Exotic Memories: Literature, Colonialism and the Fin de Siècle. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991.Find this resource:

Brantlinger, Patrick. Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914. London: Cornell University Press, 1988.Find this resource:

Bratton, J. A., et al. Acts of Supremacy: The British Empire and the Stage, 1790–1930. Manchester, U.K., and New York: Manchester University Press, 1991.Find this resource:

Caracciolo, Peter L.The Arabian Nights in English Literature: Studies in the Reception of The Thousand and One Nights into British Culture. London: Macmillan, 1988.Find this resource:

Crinson, Mark. Empire Building: Orientalism and Victorian Architecture. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.Find this resource:

Curtis, Michael. Orientalism and Islam: European Thinkers on Oriental Despotism in the Middle East and India. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Delaney, Paul. Literature, Money and the Market: From Trollope to Amis. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.Find this resource:

Elmarsafy, Ziad, et al., ed. Debating Orientalism. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.Find this resource:

Forman, Ross G.China and the Victorian Imagination: Empires Intertwined. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Green, Martin. Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire. New York: Basic Books, 1979.Find this resource:

Hansen, Jim. Terror and Irish Modernism: The Gothic Tradition from Burke to Beckett. New York: State University of New York Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Javadi, Hasan. Persian Literary Influence on English Literature, with Special Reference to the Nineteenth Century. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2005.Find this resource:

Kabbani, Rana. Imperial Fictions: Europe’s Myths of Orient. London: HarperCollins, 1994.Find this resource:

Lennon, Joseph. Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Lewis, Reina. Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.Find this resource:

MacKenzie, John M.Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts. Manchester, U.K., and New York: Manchester University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Melman, Billie. Women’s Orients: English Women and the Middle East, 1718–1918 Sexuality, Religion and Work (2d ed.). London: Macmillan, 1995.Find this resource:

Meyer, Susan. Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women’s Fiction. Ithaca, NY, and London: Cornell University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Moore-Gilbert, Bart. Writing India, 1757–1990: The Literature of British India. Manchester, U.K., and New York: Manchester University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Nash, Geoffrey. From Empire to Orient: Travellers to the Middle East, 1830–1926. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005.Find this resource:

Nochlin, Linda. “The Imaginary Orient.” The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society. New York: Harper and Row, 1989.Find this resource:

Nolan, Emer. Catholic Emancipations: Irish Fiction from Thomas Moore to James Joyce. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Perera, Suvendrini, Reaches of Empire: The English Novel from Edgeworth to Dickens. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.Find this resource:

Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (2d ed.). London: Routledge, 1992.Find this resource:

Rajan, Balachandra. Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Said, Edward W.Orientalism. London: Penguin, 1995.Find this resource:

Said, Edward W.Culture and Imperialism. London: Vintage, 1994.Find this resource:

Smith, Alison, David Blayney Brown, and Carol Jacobi. eds. Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past. London: Tate Publishing, 2015.Find this resource:

Spurr, David. The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

Suleri, Sara. The Rhetoric of English India. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Valman, Nadia. The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Williams, Haydn. Turquerie: An Eighteenth-Century European Fantasy. London: Thames and Hudson, 2015.Find this resource:

Zaidi, Syed Faiz. Victorian Literary Orientalism: A Critical Study of Arnold, Browning, Carlyle and Tennyson. New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing, 2010.Find this resource:

Ziter, Edward. The Orient on the Victorian Stage. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003.Find this resource:


(1.) Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin, 1995), 2, 3.

(2.) Said, Orientalism, 8.

(3.) Said, Orientalism, 206.

(4.) Said, Orientalism, 204.

(5.) Said, Orientalism, 222.

(6.) Said, Orientalism, 93.

(7.) Said, Orientalism, 79, 52.

(8.) Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Vintage, 1994).

(9.) Said, Culture, 49.

(10.) Emily A. Haddad, Orientalist Poetics: The Islamic Middle East in Nineteenth-Century English and French Poetry (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2002), 201.

(11.) Linda Nochlin, “The Imaginary Orient,” in The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society (New York: Harper and Row, 1989), 34, 35; see also 35–37.

(12.) Nochlin, “The Imaginary Orient,” 38, 41, 47.

(13.) Nicholas Tromans, “‘The Defeat of Narrative by Vision’: Said and the Image,” in Debating Orientalism, eds. Ziad Elmarsafy et al. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 185.

(14.) Rana Kabbani, Imperial Fictions: Europe’s Myths of Orient (London: HarperCollins, 1994), 67.

(15.) Said, Orientalism, 190; for a challenge to Said’s view about Westerners, sex, and the Orient, see Valerie Kennedy, Edward Said: A Critical Introduction (Cambridge, U.K.: Polity, 2000), 37–44.

(16.) For more details on the various translations of The Arabian Nights, see Ros Ballaster, Fabulous Orients: Fictions of the East in England 1662–1785 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 108 n 57.

(17.) Ballaster, Fabulous Orients, 361.

(18.) See Ballaster, Fabulous Orients, 361.

(19.) Peter Cochran, “Byron’s ‘Turkish Tales’: An Introduction,” 6, Peter Cochran’s Website.

(20.) Cochran, “Byron’s ‘Turkish Tales’: An Introduction,” 4–5.

(21.) Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 22.

(22.) Cochran, “Byron’s Turkish Tales,” 3. Shelley was apparently unaware of Firdausi’s Islamic epic, the Shahnameh, and the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

(23.) Quoted in Leask, Romantic Writers, 74.

(24.) See Jeremy Tambling, Dickens’s Novels as Poetry: Allegory and Literature of the City (New York: Routledge, 2015), 31, 43.

(25.) Joseph Lennon, Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2008), 157; Moore quoted in Lennon, Irish Orientalism, 159.

(26.) Peter L. Caracciolo, “Introduction,” in The Arabian Nights in English Literature: Studies in the Reception of The Thousand and One Nights into British Culture (London: Macmillan, 1988), 11–20.

(27.) Thomas Moore, “The Minstrel Boy,” Irish Melodies, ll. 15–16. Lyrics available online; Moore, “The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Hall,” Irish Melodies, ll. 15–16.

(28.) Emer Nolan, Catholic Emancipations: Irish Fiction from Thomas Moore to James Joyce (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007), 3, 4, 5.

(29.) Nolan, Catholic Emancipations, 3.

(30.) Nolan, Catholic Emancipations, 25, 44.

(31.) Thomas de Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings (London: Penguin, 2003), 63, 64.

(32.) de Quincey, Confessions, 81, 82.

(33.) Trevor Hope, email message to author, February 16, 2010, and see his article “Revisiting the Imperial Archive: Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, and the Decomposition of Englishness,” College English 39.1 (Spring 2012): 51–73.

(34.) Michael Slater, “Dickens in Wonderland,” in The Arabian Nights in English Literature, ed. Peter L. Caracciolo (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988), 137, 138.

(35.) Dickens, A Christmas Carol in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings (London: Penguin, 2003), 58; Martin Chuzzlewit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 65; and David Copperfield (London: Penguin, 2004), 66.

(36.) Slater, “Wonderland,” 133–134.

(37.) See Michael Slater, Dickens and Women (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1983), 46.

(38.) Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (London: Penguin, 2003), 312, 501 n 5.

(39.) See Slater, Dickens’ Journalism Vol. 3, “Gone Astray” and Other Papers from Household Words 1851–59 (London: Dent, 1998), 292–298 for the first; for the second see Household Words 11 (April 28, 1855): 289–292; for the third see Household Words 11 (May 5, 1855): 313–315.

(40.) For Little Dorrit and the opium trade, see Jeremy Tambling, “Opium, Wholesale, Resale, and for Export: On Dickens and China—Parts One and Two,” in Global Dickens, eds. John O. Jordan and Nirshan Perera (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), 567–592.

(41.) Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (London: Penguin, 1997), 315.

(42.) Charles Dickens, American Notes in American Notes and Pictures from Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 167. For a more detailed discussion of Dickens’s view of non-European races see Valerie Kennedy, “Dickens and Savagery at Home and Abroad,” parts 1 and 2, The Dickensian 104.2 (Summer 2008): 123–139, and 104.3 (Winter 2008): 206–222.

(43.) Dickens, Dombey and Son (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 186, 827.

(44.) Barrett Browning’s poem, “The Romaunt of the Page” (1844) contains scattered references to Palestine and “Paynims” (ll. 226, 295), and her poem about Napoleon, “Crowned and Buried” (1844) refers to “the pyramidal/Nilotic tombs” and their “mummied inhabitants” as well as to “the torrid vastitude/Of India” (ll. 25–26 and 36–37). See The Collected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (London: Wordsworth, 2015), 17–27 and 135–140. Other Orientalist poems by women include Grace Aguilar’s “The Vision of Jerusalem” (1844), the two “Peace to the Odalisque” poems by Emily Pfeiffer (1873), and Rosamund Marriott Watson’s “Omar Khayyám” (1889). See Victorian Literature: An Anthology, eds. Victor Shea and William Whitla (Oxford: Wiley/Blackwell, 2015), 465–466, 595, 887–888. There are also Mary Leslie’s poems about the Indian Mutiny and Indian legends in Sorrows, Aspirations, and Legends from India (1858): see Máire ní Fhlathúin, British India and Victorian Literary Culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), 156–161.

(45.) Five editions of Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam were published in 1859, 1868, 1872, 1879, and 1889. See Daniel Karlin, ed., Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), Rubáiyát, lxvii–lxix.

(46.) For an account of the Persian influence on both the Romantics and selected Victorian poets, see Hasan Javadi, Persian Literary Influence on English Literature, with Special Reference to the Nineteenth Century (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2005) and Reza Taher-Kermani, “The Persian Presence in Nineteenth-Century English Poetry: A Taxonomy,” Iranian Studies 49.1 (2016): 77–98.

(47.) Chris Bongie, Exotic Memories: Literature, Colonialism, and the Fin de Siècle (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991), 16–17.

(48.) Bongie, Exotic Memories, 17.

(49.) Karlin, “Introduction,” in Rubáiyát, xxxv.

(50.) Karlin, “Introduction,” xvii.

(51.) Karlin notes the affinity between Fitzgerald and Khayyam in terms of their refusal to conform; see Karlin, “Introduction,” xxxv.

(52.) See Charles Eliot Norton’s review quoted in Karlin, Rubáiyát, 104, and Karlin, “Introduction,” xxix. See also Javadi, Persian Literary Influence, 172–173.

(53.) Norton quoted in Karlin, Rubáiyát, 99.

(54.) See David G. Riede, Allegories of One’s Own Mind: Melancholy in Victorian Poetry (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2005), 197–199.

(55.) Quoted in Karlin, “Introduction,” xli.

(56.) Quoted in Karlin, “Introduction,” xxxii. Later reviewers did not make the same mistake; Norton commented on “the strength of [Omar’s] poetic nature” (quoted in Karlin, Rubáiyát, 100), while Thomas W. Hinchcliff praised the poem’s “terse and vigorous English” (quoted in Karlin, Rubáiyát, 106), and both noted the “audacity” of the work’s thought and expression (quoted in Karlin, Rubáiyát, 101, 108).

(57.) See Javadi, Persian Literary Influence, 164–170.

(58.) Quoted, in Karlin, “Introduction,” xlii, xliii.

(59.) Karlin, “Introduction,” xxxiv.

(60.) Fitzgerald, “[Preface],” quoted in Karlin, Rubáiyát, 11. Fitzgerald also read many other works on Persia, including Barthélemy d’Herbelot’s Bibliothèque Orientale and Sir William Ouseley’s Travels. See Karlin, “Introduction,” xxx.

(61.) Karlin, Rubáiyát, 18, V, ll. 17–18; 20, VIII, 31–32. Karlin’s text uses the first edition and gives selected variants for the three other editions published in Fitzgerald’s lifetime. For commentary on some stanzas from different editions, see Javadi, Persian Literary Influence, 175–184.

(62.) Karlin, Rubáiyát, 20, IX, ll. 33–36.

(63.) Karlin, Rubáiyát, 38, XLIV, ll. 177–178.

(64.) Quoted in Karlin, Rubáiyát, 58, 158, note to XLIV and endnote 18.

(65.) See Syed Faiz Zaidi, Victorian Literary Orientalism: A Critical Study of Arnold, Browning, Carlyle and Tennyson (New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing, 2010), 34, 37, 63–66.

(66.) Said, Orientalism, 53.

(67.) Another, and the least significant, form of Orientalism in Tennyson is the incidental use of Oriental tropes especially in early lyric poems, an example of the prevalence in Victorian poetry of “that collection of dreams, images, and vocabularies” available in the discourse of Orientalism; see Said, Orientalism, 73. For example, a number of poems from the 1832 collection include incidental Oriental imagery: in “Eleänore” the protagonist’s birth is signaled by the “oriental fairy,” “A Dream of Fair Women” includes Cleopatra and her “life/In Egypt,” “Fatima” evokes both “the city’s eastern towers” and “that long desert of the south,” and “The Palace of Art” includes the lines “thronging all one porch of Paradise/A group of houris bow’d to see/The dying Islamite.” The 1842 “The Beggar Maid” treats the biblical subject of King Cophetua and the maid “more beautiful than day.” See Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson (London: Wordsworth, 2008), 62, l. 14, 102, ll. 146–147, 71, ll. 9, 14, 83, ll. 101, 102–103, 211, l. 8.

(68.) Tennyson, Works, 10, ll. 242, 247, 244–246.

(69.) Another early poem, “The Ganges,” offers a glorifying vision of the river: see Zaidi, Victorian Literary Orientalism, 37–42.

(70.) Alfred and Charles Tennyson, Poems, by Two Brothers (New York: W. Thomas Y, Crowell, nd), 40, ll. 9–11, 72, l. 13. Available online as a PDF ebook.

(71.) Alfred and Charles Tennyson, Poems, by Two Brothers 58, ll. 6–8, 72, l. 19.

(72.) Alfred and Charles Tennyson, Poems, by Two Brothers 72, l. 19.

(73.) Alfred and Charles Tennyson, Poems, by Two Brothers 76, ll. 5–6, 105–106.

(74.) Tennyson, “Recollections of the Arabian Nights,” Works, 28–31, ll. 7, 134, 79, 146, 100, 113–114. In Orientalist Poetics Emily A. Haddad argues that the poem is “a fantasized adventure of youth vividly recalled,” 183, and she notes that its seventh stanza evokes “the famous Persian trope of the nightingale’s unrequited love for the rose,” 171. See also 171–175 for comments on Walter Savage Landor’s adaptation of this trope in his 1846 “The Nightingale and the Rose.”

(75.) Tennyson’s Poetry, ed. Robert W. Hill Jr. (New York: Norton, 1999), 82–84.

(76.) Tennyson’s other escape routes are the Arthurian legends in Idylls of the King and Greek myth in works like “Anacaona,” “The Lotos-Eaters,” “The Hesperides,” and “Ulysses.” See Riede, Allegories of One’s Own Mind, 70, where he argues that in these poems “Tennyson explores the remote margins of the West, but even the discourse about the West was ‘Orientalist.’” See also Deirdre David, Rule Britannia: Women, Empire, and Victorian Writing (London: Cornell University Press, 1995), 170–175, for the relation of the Idylls to Britain’s imperial philosophy.

(77.) Tennyson, Works, 120, ll. 9, 26–28.

(78.) In Orientalism, Said describes the Orient as both “mysteriously attractive” to the West and also productive of “fear and a kind of awe,” 57, 59. For the description of Maud’s speaker, see David, Rule Britannia, 178.

(79.) Tennyson, “Locksley Hall,” in Works, 169, ll. 157–158.

(80.) Tennyson, “Locksley Hall,” ll. 161–162, 166, 163, 168–169.

(81.) Tennyson, “Locksley Hall,” ll. 170–171.

(82.) Tennyson, “Locksley Hall,” ll. 175–176, 181, 180. In his Minute on Indian Education of 1835 Thomas Babington Macaulay declared that “a single shelf of a good European library [is] worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.” Available online.

(83.) Tennyson, “Locksley Hall,” in Works, 170, l. 186.

(84.) Tennyson, The Princess, in Works, 255, ll. 260–261, 227, ll. 21–22.

(85.) Tennyson, Maud, in Works, 421, I.VII, ll. 293–296. Riede, Allegories, 80, identifies the tale as “The Story of Nourredin Ali, and Bedreddin Hassan,” and he also calls Maud “an Oriental seductress.”

(86.) Tennyson, Maud, 429, 1.XVI, l. 551.

(87.) Tennyson, Maud, 419, 1.V, ll. 215–216, 420, 1.V, ll. 233–234, 435, 1.XX, 790, 426, 1.XIII, ll. 454–456. Robert Browning’s early poem, Paracelsus, similarly identifies the Orient with vulgar display in the lines describing the knight who frees “a tribe / Of desert-people from their dragon-foe,” since the knight’s helmet is “Gay set with twinkling stones” which, in “the East … / Must be displayed.” See Paracelsus in The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, eds. Ian Jack and Margaret Smith, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 175, part 1, ll. 475–476, 481–483.

(88.) Tennyson, Maud, in Works, 417, 1.IV, ll. 141–142, 449, 3.VI, ll. 19, 42.

(89.) Tennyson, “The Defence of Lucknow.” Available online.

(90.) Tennyson’s patriotic poems include “Love Thou Thy Land” (1842), “Hands All Round” (1852), and “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington” (1852). See Tennyson, Works, 121–123, 399–400, 400–407.

(91.) Tennyson, “Ode,” in Works, 593, ll. 20–21; Tennyson, “To the Queen,” in Tennyson’s Poetry, ed. Robert W. Hill, 431, ll. 29, 30–31.

(92.) Tennyson, “Montenegro,” ll. 10–11, 3. Available online.

(93.) Tennyson, “The Defence of Lucknow,” ll. 6, 26, 29, 35, 69–70. Available online.

(94.) Tennyson, “Locksley Hall Sixty Years After,” in Tennyson’s Poetry, ed. Hill, 552, ll. 28–29, 555, ll. 115, 117.

(95.) Tennyson, “Akbar’s dream,” ll. 62, 182, 183–184, 186–187 Available online. England’s civilizing mission in India is also the subject of poems by George Trevor. See the discussion in ní Fhlathúin, British India, 176–178.

(96.) Tennyson, “The Opening,” l. 37, available online; Tennyson, “On the Jubilee,” l. 47, available online. John McBratney notes that both poems emphasize the “unity of race and creed.” See “Rebuilding Akbar’s ‘Fane’: Tennyson’s Reclamation of the East,” Victorian Poetry 31.4 (Winter 1993): 417 n. 14.

(97.) Arnold also wrote an essay, “A Persian Passion Play,” an account of the taaziyeh or symbolic drama. See Roy Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran (London: Oneworld Books, 1985), 177–179.

(98.) Javadi, Persian Literary Influence, 141. Many of Arnold’s poems also contain elements of incidental stage-setting Orientalism; see, for example, “Consolation” and “Resignation,” in Matthew Arnold, The Poems of Matthew Arnold, eds. KennethandMiriam Allott (London: Longman, 1979), 117–120 and 88–100.

(99.) Arnold, Poems, 624–627, 26–32, 67–79.

(100.) Arnold, “Constantinople,” in Poems 632, l. 47.

(101.) Arnold, “Land of the East,” in Poems, 628, ll. 26, 37–39.

(102.) Arnold, “The World and the Quietist,” in Poems, 106–107, ll. 7–8, 4–5, 25–32.

(103.) Quoted in Arnold, Poems, 107 n. 106.

(104.) Arnold, “A Southern Night,” in Poems, 496, l. 26, 497, l. 55, 498, ll. 64–72.

(105.) Arnold, “Obermann Once More,” in Poems, 566, ll. 105–106, 109–112.

(106.) Arnold, “Obermann Once More,” in Poems, 566, l. 115; William Wordsworth, “Expostulation and Reply,” The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 2, 9th ed., ed. Stephen Greenblatt (New York: Norton, 2012), 281, l. 24.

(107.) Haddad, Orientalist Poetics, 144.

(108.) Arnold, “The Sick King in Bokhara,” in Poems, 87, l. 216, 88, ll. 226, 231–232.

(109.) For discussion of “Sohrab and Rustum” in relation to translations from Persian poetry, see Javadi, Persian Literary Influence, 137–208, and Taher-Kermani, “The Persian Presence.”

(110.) Arnold, Poems, 352, ll. 829, 833–834, and 352 n referring to ll. 830–834. Arnold’s main source was the essay by Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, “Le Livre des Rois, par Firdousi” (1850), but he also used Sir John Malcolm’s History of Persia (1815) and James Atkinson’s translation of Firdausi’s Shahname (1832, [a work originally completed by Firdausi in 1010]), as well as the Iliad. See Arnold, Poems, 320–322.

(111.) Javadi, Persian Literary Influence, 142–144.

(112.) Arnold, “Sohrab and Rustum,” in Poems, 324, ll. 54–58, 331, l. 229.

(113.) Arnold, “Sohrab and Rustum,” 335, ll. 331–332, 336, l. 348

(114.) Arnold, “Sohrab and Rustum,” 333 and 334, ll. 302, 308. See also Javadi, Persian Literary Influence, 145–146.

(115.) Arnold, “Sohrab and Rustum,” 353, ll. 860–862. One of Fitzgerald’s footnotes discusses Persepolis, supposedly built by Jamshýd, and evokes its columns. See Karlin, Rubáiyát, 56 n 11.

(116.) I do not discuss the monologues with European speakers; nor shall I deal with the poems with biblical or Jewish subjects, like “Saul” (1842), “The Heretic’s Tragedy,” Holy-Cross Day” (both 1845), “Rabbi Ben Ezra,” “A Death in the Desert” (both 1864), “Filippo Baldinucci on the Privilege of Burial” (1876), “Solomon and Balkis,” and “Jochanan Hakkadosh” (both 1883). Most of these poems employ the Orientalist strategy of locating their subjects (human and abstract) in a mythical or historical past. See Robert Browning, The Works of Robert Browning (London: Wordsworth, 2007), 38–45, 517–519, 519–521, 710–713, 713–725, 807–813, 920–921, 927–945.

(117.) See Donald S. Hair, Browning’s Experiments with Genre (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972), 57 for information on The Return of the Druses, and Roma A. King Jr., The Focusing Artifice: The Poetry of Robert Browning (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1968), 61 for Luria.

(118.) “Through the Metijda to Abd-el-Kadr” offers a rather simplistic vision of a nomadic speaker whose “full heart” guides him: see Browning, Poems, 314, l. 2; it anticipates the depiction of the clash between Eastern “heart” and Western “intellect” in The Return of the Druses and Luria. See also Gal Manor, “In ‘Persian Garments’: Orientalism and Hybridity in Robert Browning’s Life and Works,” Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature (2013),HighBeam Research (April 17, 2016): 67–68.

(119.) See “In ‘Persian Garments,’” 66–68, where Manor discusses the early works Pauline (1833), Paracelsus (1835), and Sordello (1840), revealing their characterization of the East as a place of primitive desires and immorality.

(120.) Several poems in the 1842 Dramatic Lyrics, Tennyson-like, offer examples of past glory, but the past glory is that of Italy—of Rome and its empire in “Love Among the Ruins,” or of Venice in “A Toccata of Galuppi’s.” As with Tennyson, I do not discuss Browning’s European Orientalism here.

(121.) Browning, “Waring,” in Works, 490, ll. 99–100, 101–107, 108.

(122.) Browning, “Waring,” 492, l. 236.

(123.) Browning, “Waring,” 492, ll. 258–259, 259–262.

(124.) Browning, “Waring,” 492, ll. 241–242, 262.

(125.) Robert Browning, The Return of the Druses, in The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, vol. 3, eds. Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988), 289, act I, l. 86.

(126.) Browning, The Return of the Druses, 337, act IV, ll. 262–263, 257.

(127.) Browning, The Return of the Druses, 336, act IV, ll. 236–237.

(128.) Browning, The Return of the Druses, 350. act V, ll. 265–266, 267.

(129.) Browning, The Return of the Druses, 351. act V, ll. 269–271. Even though Djabal asserts that “from out their crash / A third and better nature rises up— / My mere man’s-nature!” 351, ll. 272–274, this “better nature” cannot prevent his death.

(130.) Robert Browning, Luria, in The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, vol. 4, eds. Ian Jack, Rowena Fowler, and Margaret Smith (Oxford; Clarendon, 1991), 204, act I, ll. 155–156.

(131.) Browning, Luria, 209, act I, ll. 321, 216, act II, l. 85.

(132.) Browning, Luria, 205, act I, ll. 190–191.

(133.) Browning, Luria, act I, 210, ll. 321–324.

(134.) Browning, Luria, 2223, act II, ll. 241–242, 226, act II, ll. 290–291.

(135.) Browning, Luria, 226, act II, ll. 351–353.

(136.) Browning, Luria, 239–240, act III, ll. 350–351.

(137.) Browning, Luria, 254, act IV, ll. 299–301, 264, act V, ll. 209–210.

(138.) Browning, The Druses, in The Poetical Works, vol. 3, 350, act V, ll. 265–266.

(139.) Browning, Luria, 265, in The Poetical Works, vol. 4, act V. ll. 229, 242, 243–245.

(140.) Another of the poems, “Echetlos,” dramatizes the battle of Marathon between the Greeks and the Persians, in praise not of the usual leaders or kings, but of “the clown,” the ordinary soldier who “was ploughing Persia”; Browning, Works, 888, l. 33.

(141.) Browning, “Muleykeh,” in Works, 897, l. 114. Browning’s poem may be compared to the 1892 poem by Lady Anne and Wilfred Blunt, “The Celebrated Romance of the Stealing of the Mare,” from the cycle of the Romance of Abu Zeyd, translated by Lady Anne and rendered into verse by her husband. Donna Landry, email to author, May 7, 2016.

(142.) Browning, “Clive,” Works, 889, ll. 8–9.

(143.) Browning, “Clive,” 894, ll. 236–239.

(144.) Quoted in Reza Taher-Kermani, “A Thin Disguise: On Robert Browning’s Ferishtah’s Fancies,” Victorian Literature and Culture 44.1 (2016): 265–278. I am indebted to Taher-Kermani’s discussion of the poem; he suggests that the third poem, “Shah Abbas,” identifies Persia not just as a Muslim, but also a specifically Shi‘ite country, 270–271. See also Manor, “In ‘Persian Garments,’” 76–77.

(145.) Taher-Kermani, “A Thin Disguise,” 269.

(146.) Ferishtah’s Fancies in Browning, Works, 948, l. 1, 949, ll. 11–12, 950, l. 1. Taher-Kermani identifies four main sources for Browning’s poem: Kalila wa Dimna, or The Fables of Bidpai (for the story of “The Eagle,” the second poem), Goethe’s Westöstlicher Divan (1819), Helen Zimmern’s 1882 translation of Firdausi’s Shahname (The Epic of Kings) (1010), and Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat; see “A Thin Disguise,” 267–268.

(147.) Taher-Kermani, “A Thin Disguise,” 270.

(148.) Manor, “In ‘Persian Garments,’” 78.

(149.) The poem was first published in 1850, and then revised and republished both in 1856 and 1870; the 1870 version of the poem is the one discussed here.

(150.) Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “The Burden of Nineveh,” l. 7. Available online.

(151.) Rossetti, “The Burden of Nineveh,” ll. 158, 79–80.

(152.) Rossetti, “The Burden of Nineveh,” ll. 178, 179–180.

(153.) Rossetti, “The Burden of Nineveh,” l. 9.

(154.) Edward Said, Orientalism, 59; Oscar Wilde, “The Sphinx,” in Complete Poetry, ed. Isobel Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

(155.) Wilde, “The Sphinx,” 142–143, ll. 2, 12, 13.

(156.) Wilde, “The Sphinx,” 146, l. 74.

(157.) Wilde, “The Sphinx,” 150–151, ll. 149–150, 167, 168–170.

(158.) Oscar Wilde, “Ave Imperatrix,” in Poetry, 118, ll. 36, 37, 41–49, 120, ll. 101, 105, 121, ll. 123–124.

(159.) Wilde, “Athanasia,” in Poetry, 88, ll. 11, 13, 41, 89, l. 60.

(160.) Wilde, “Ave Imperatrix,” in Poetry, 117, ll. 89–92.

(161.) Wilde, “Quantum Mutata,” in Poetry, 26, ll. 5–8 and 178, n to ll. 6–9.

(162.) “To Milton,” in Poetry, 27, ll. 12–14.

(163.) Much Victorian fiction and travel writing contains an element of European Orientalism in relation to places like the south of France, Italy, and Spain, sometimes in the past. Examples are Dickens’s Pictures from Italy (1846) and Little Dorrit (1857) and, George Eliot’s Romola (1863) and The Spanish Gypsy (1868), and Edward Bulwer Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and Zanoni (1842). Unfortunately, such works are beyond the scope of my discussion here.

(164.) Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914 (London: Cornell University Press, 1988), 227.

(165.) ní Fhlathúin, British India, 154

(166.) Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford, Cranford/Cousin Phillis [sic] (London: Penguin, 1986), 211.

(167.) Dickens, Dombey and Son, 36.

(168.) See Brantlinger, Rule, 92, 93. Brantlinger also comments on Thackeray’s satirical novel, The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan (1838), see 73–75.

(169.) See Brantlinger, Rule, 97–105.

(170.) Dickens, Dombey and Son, 91, 441, 859.

(171.) Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (London: Penguin, 2002), 58, 64.

(172.) Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 172.

(173.) Brantlinger, Rule, 221.

(174.) See Brantlinger, Rule, 215. For accounts of novels based on the Indian Mutiny, see Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee, Crime and Empire: The Colony in Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Crime (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 134–157, and Gautam Chakravarty, The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 105–155; Chakravorty also discusses histories of the Mutiny, 19–71.

(175.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” in Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, vol. 1 (New York: Bantam, 2003), 351.

(176.) Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (London: Penguin, 2000), 5, 6, 45.

(177.) Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 129, 131, 133.

(178.) Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 135, 124.

(179.) Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 282.

(180.) Brontë, Jane Eyre, 291.

(181.) William Makepiece Thackeray, Vanity Fair (New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1962), 173.

(182.) George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 100.

(183.) George Eliot, Felix Holt, The Radical (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 91, 169, 33.

(184.) Eliot, Felix Holt, 290.

(185.) George Eliot, Daniel Deronda (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 156, 314.

(186.) Eliot, Daniel Deronda, 178. Marina Warner provides a convenient summary of this very long tale in Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 325–329. .

(187.) Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop (London: Penguin, 2000), 478.

(188.) Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (London: Penguin, 1985), 98.

(189.) See Peter L. Caracciolo, “Wilkie Collins and the Ladies of Baghdad, or the Sleeper Awakened,” in The Arabian Nights, 165–166.

(190.) Brantlinger, Rule, 147, 150.

(191.) Quoted in Patrick Brantlinger, Taming Cannibals: Race and the Victorians (Ithaca, NY, and London: Cornell University Press, 2011), 98.

(192.) Quoted in Brantlinger, Rule, 157.

(193.) Brantlinger, Rule, 102.

(194.) For discussions of Dickens’s Jewish characters, see Deborah Heller, “The Outcast as Villain and Victim: Jews in Dickens’s Oliver Twist and Our Mutual Friend,” in Jewish Presences in English Literature, eds. Derek Cohen and Deborah Heller (London: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990), 41, 43; for those in Trollope, see Derek Cohen, “Constructing the Contradiction: Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now,” in Jewish Presences, 65.

(195.) Heller, “The Outcast,” 41, 51.

(196.) Anthony Trollope, Nina Balatka in Nina Balatka, Linda Tressel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 11, 130–131.

(197.) Trollope, Nina Balatka, 23, 39, 103, 143–144.

(198.) Trollope, Nina Balatka, 71. 69.

(199.) Nadia Valman, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 43–49.

(200.) Trollope, Nina Balatka, 118.

(201.) Valman, The Jewess, 48.

(202.) Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now (London: Penguin), 24. Paul Delaney, “Land, Money, and the Jews in Later Trollope,” SEL 32.4 (Autumn 1992): 775.

(203.) Trollope, The Way, 460.

(204.) Trollope, The Way, 467, 605, 462, 677.

(205.) See Bryan Cheyette, Constructions of “the Jew” in English Literature and Society: Racial Representations, 1875–1945 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 40. The book also discusses Trollope’s use of Orientalist stereotypes in his creation of other Jewish characters such as Madame Max Goesler in Phineas Finn (1869) and other novels and Ferdinand Lopez in The Prime Minister (1876); see Cheyette, Constructions of “The Jew,” 32–38.

(206.) Valman, The Jewess, 137, 12.

(207.) Frank Kermode, “Introduction,” in The Way We Live Now (London: Penguin, 1994), xvi. It is hard to know whether to deplore more the misogyny, the anti-Semitism, or the moral intolerance in this statement.

(208.) Trollope, The Way, 32, 91.

(209.) Valman, The Jewess, 140

(210.) Trollope, The Way, 226.

(211.) Trollope, The Way, 32, 33.

(212.) Trollope, The Way, 635.

(213.) Trollope, The Way, 746.

(214.) Valman, The Jewess, 144.

(215.) See Cheyette, Constructions of “the Jew,” 47; Eliot, Deronda, 334.

(216.) Eliot, Deronda, 336, 396.

(217.) Eliot, Deronda, 566, 155.

(218.) Eliot, Deronda, 566.

(219.) Eliot, Deronda, 687, 688.

(220.) Cheyette, Constructions of “the Jew, 47.

(221.) Eliot, Deronda, 37, 536.

(222.) Valman, The Jewess, 150.

(223.) Valman, The Jewess, 154; Eliot, Deronda, 305.

(224.) Cheyette, Constructions of “the Jew”, 36, 44.

(225.) Quoted in Cheyette, Constructions of “the Jew”, 44.

(226.) Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1990), 227.

(227.) David, Rule Britannia, 188.

(228.) See Angelia Poon, Enacting Englishness in the Victorian Period: Colonialism and the Politics of Performance (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2008), 146–148.

(229.) Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), 201.

(230.) For an account of Western representations of Tahiti, see Anne Salmond, Aphrodite’s Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 2009).

(231.) Bram Stoker, Dracula (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 320, 345.

(232.) Stoker, Dracula, 357, 360, 362, 308.

(233.) Peter L. Caracciolo, “Preface,” in The Arabian Nights, xvi, and “Introduction,” in The Arabian Nights, 21–22.

(234.) Caracciolo, “Introduction,” in The Arabian Nights, 22, 39.

(235.) Leonee Ormond, “Cayenne and Cream Tarts: W. M. Thackeray and R. L. Stevenson,” in The Arabian Nights, 179–180.

(236.) Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 40–46.

(237.) Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book in The Jungle Books (London: Penguin, 1989), 37.

(238.) Kipling, The Jungle Book, 92–94, 133–134.

(239.) Kipling, The Jungle Book, 163, 164.

(240.) M. P. Shiel, The Rajah’s Sapphire (Kansas City, MO: Highflyer Press, 1981), 21–28, 91–97, 73–74.

(241.) Shiel, The Rajah’s Sapphire, 119.

(242.) Shiel, The Rajah’s Sapphire, 48, 77, 88.

(243.) Guy Boothby, Dr. Nikola (New York: D. Appleton, 1896), 27, 142, 146.

(244.) Boothby, Dr. Nikola, 163, 159, 160, 154.

(245.) Boothby, Dr. Nikola, 12.

(246.) Boothby, Dr. Nikola, 140, 199, 46–51.

(247.) Boothby, Dr. Nikola, 61–64, 150–151, 277, 292.

(248.) Boothby, Dr. Nikola, 248, 251–252.

(249.) Said, Orientalism, 93–94.

(250.) Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 201–205.

(251.) Indira Ghose, Women Travellers in Colonial India: The Power of the Female Gaze (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 38–51.

(252.) Brantlinger, Rule, 202–204

(253.) Ghose, Women Travellers, 47–49.

(254.) For multiple examples see the passages quoted in Gérard Gâçon, “An Emancipated View of the Other: Fanny Parks [sic] in India,” in In-Between Two Worlds: Narratives by Female Explorers and Travellers 1850–1945, eds. Béatrice Bijon and Gérard Gâçon (New York: Peter Lang, 2009), 84.

(255.) Quoted in Ghose, Women Travellers, 41. The picturesque trope appears in the work of many writers on Egypt, although in this case it is often related to the contemporary bazaar and/or connected to The Arabian Nights. For examples see Emily A. Haddad, “‘Better than the Reality’: The Egyptian Market in Nineteenth-Century British Travel Writing,” in Interrogating Orientalism: Contextual Approaches and Pedagogical Practices, eds. Diane Long Hoeveler and Jeffrey Cass (Columbus, OH: Columbus State University Press, 2006), 77–78.

(256.) See Nigel Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing 1770–1840 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 168–170, for the argument that the picturesque trope encloses, frames, and commodifies the Indian landscape.

(257.) See Ghose, Women Travellers, 74, 76. Another woman traveler who frequently uses self-mockery and irony is Mary Kingsley, although this does not interfere with her imperialist beliefs. See Africa in Victorian Travel Writing.

(258.) Leask, Curiosity, 173–174.

(259.) Leask, Curiosity, 163.

(260.) Quoted in Indira Ghose, “Imperial Player: Richard Burton in Sindh,” in Travel Writing in the Nineteenth Century: Filling the Blank Spaces, ed. Tim Youngs (London: Anthem Press, 2006), 74–75.

(261.) Derek Gregory, “Scripting Egypt: Orientalism and the Cultures of Travel,” in Writes of Passage: Reading Travel Writing, eds. James Duncan and Derek Gregory (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), 114–116, 135–137; Haddad, “‘Better than the Reality,’” 73.

(262.) For the influence of the Arabian Nights see Haddad, “‘Better than the Reality,’” 81–86. Haddad notes that these tropes are also often accompanied by accounts of contemporary customs such as begging, baksheesh, and bargaining.

(263.) See Ghose, Women Travellers, 57–58, for Parkes’s references to Montagu’s work.

(264.) Quoted in Kabbani, Imperial Fictions, 41.

(265.) Quoted in Kabbani, Imperial Fictions, 52.

(266.) Brantlinger, Rule, 135–136, 139–140.

(267.) See Gregory, “Scripting Egypt,” 148, for Martineau’s comment about children; for her other comment, see Billie Melman, Women’s Orients: English Women and the Middle East, 1718–1918, Sexuality, Religion and Work, 2d ed. (London: Macmillan, 1995), 137.

(268.) Duff quoted in Melman, Women’s Orients, 105, 154–155.

(269.) Bartlett quoted in Gregory, “Scripting Egypt,” 121.

(270.) See Gregory, “Scripting Egypt,” 115–117, 132, 135, 137, 140.

(271.) Quoted in Melman, Women’s Orients, 100; Melman shows that Pardoe’s criticism of Montagu was seconded by other Victorian women travelers like Emmeline Lott.

(272.) Quoted in Melman, Women’s Orients, 67.

(273.) Ali Behdad, Belated Travelers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1994), 94.

(274.) Quoted in Brantlinger, Rule, 160, 161, 162.

(275.) Behdad, Belated Travelers, 96–104.

(276.) Lady Anne is quoted in Behdad, Belated Travelers, 106; for Doughty see Billie Melman, “The Middle East/Arabia: ‘The Cradle of Islam,’” in The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, eds. Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 114.

(277.) Quoted in Brantlinger, Rule, 159.

(278.) Thesiger describes the Bedouin as “illiterate herdsmen,” but also as people possessed of “‘generosity and courage, endurance, patience and light-hearted gallantry,’” in contrast to Westerners, including himself; quoted in Melman, “The Middle East/Arabia,” 118.

(279.) Said, Orientalism, 55.

(280.) The word “uncastrated” is Burton’s; quoted in Richard Phillips’s “Writing Travel and Mapping Sexuality: Richard Burton’s Sotadic Zone,” in Writes of Passage: Reading Travel Writing, eds. James Duncan and Derek Gregory (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), 73.

(281.) Richard Burton, “Terminal Essay” to The Arabian Nights (1885). Available online.

(282.) Burton, “Terminal Essay.”

(283.) Brantlinger provides a convenient list of some of the major works by these authors in Rule, 180.

(284.) Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988), 2.

(285.) Richard F. Burton, Wanderings in West Africa (New York: Dover, 1991), 2.86, 2.157, 224.

(286.) Burton, Wanderings, 2.16.

(287.) Burton, Wanderings, 2.247.

(288.) Burton, Wanderings, 2.104–131.

(289.) Burton, Wanderings, 1.276; Henry Morton Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, 2 vols. (New York: Dover, 1988), 2.273–274.

(290.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 1.73–74, 104, 367, 2.99.

(291.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 2.99, 193, 216.

(292.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 2. 252; for drowning, see 2.266; for disease, see 1.90–91, 96, 191.

(293.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 1.205, 353, 2.274, 297; for the references to barbarous peoples and savages, see 1.38, 63, 158; for cannibals, see 2.50, 53, 78, 160, 169, 207, 221.

(294.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 1.320.

(295.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 1.27, 268.

(296.) Kingsley, Travels, 258; see also 268, 545; for criticism of the use of force with Africa’s human inhabitants, see 285, 330.

(297.) Kingsley, Travels, 293.

(298.) Kingsley, Travels, 604, 605.

(299.) Mary Kingsley, West African Studies, 2d ed. (London: Macmillan, 1901), 442; Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” in Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling (London: Wordsworth, 2001), 334, l. 8.

(300.) Kingsley, Travels, 653, 329.

(301.) Kingsley, Travels, 669.

(302.) Kingsley, Travels, 594; for examples of the “monarch-of-all-I-survey” trope in Burton and Speke, see Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 201–202 and 206.

(303.) For laziness see Burton, Wanderings, 2.31; for superstition see Stanley, Dark Continent, 2.302.

(304.) Kingsley, Travels, 660. For Burton see Wanderings, 1.206–212. Much later, Graham Greene sees the contact with whites on the Coast of West Africa as corrupting the Africans; see Journey Without Maps (London: Vintage, 2002), 129, 215, 218.

(305.) Burton, Wanderings, 1.239

(306.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 1.xvii, 33–34, 176, 63, 174.

(307.) Stanley, Dark Continent, 1.237, and see 1.304, 311.

(308.) Burton, Wanderings, 2.94–95, 1.137.

(309.) Burton, Wanderings, 2.217, 2.176–184.

(310.) Burton, Wanderings, 2.47–50.

(311.) See Katherine Frank, A Voyager Out: The Life of Mary Kingsley (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986), 253: As Frank says, Kingsley opposed the hut tax because it “violated African law.”

(312.) Kingsley, Travels, 220–221, 658–664.

(313.) Kingsley, Travels, 663.

(314.) Kingsley, Travels, 663–664.

(315.) Kingsley, Travels, 662.

(316.) Thomas Carlyle, “The Hero as Prophet,” in On Heroes, Hero-Worship and The Heroic In History, eds. David R. Sorensen and Brent E. Kinser (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2013), 55.

(317.) Carlyle, “The Hero as Prophet,” 59, 68, 69.

(318.) Carlyle, “The Hero as Prophet,” 66, 69, 53, 60, 68, 72.

(319.) Carlyle, “The Hero as Prophet,” 71, 74.

(320.) Thomas Carlyle, “Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question,” in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, vol. 6 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1869), 180.

(321.) Carlyle, “Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question,” 200–201, 202.

(322.) Carlyle, “Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question,” 182.

(323.) James Anthony Froude, The English in the West Indies: or, The Bow of Ulysses (London: Bibliobazaar, 2008), 252.

(324.) Froude, The English, 306–307. A passage from Froude’s comment appears as the epigraph to V. S. Naipaul’s 1962 The Middle Passage (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1978), demonstrating the continuance of these Orientalist stereotypes.

(325.) For Edmund Burke see Michael Curtis, Orientalism and Islam: European Thinkers on Oriental Despotism in the Middle East and India (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 103–138.

(326.) See Curtis, Orientalism, 181–192.

(327.) Thomas Macaulay, “Minute on Indian Education.” Available online.

(328.) Thomas Macaulay, “Lord Clive,” in Critical and Historical Essays, vol. 1 (London: Dent, 1966), 505–506. Macaulay gives the number of dead as 123 with 23survivors, but one recent estimate is that 64 soldiers were imprisoned and 21 survived, and it has been argued that the Nawab was not responsible for their imprisonment. See Richard Cavendish, “The Black Hole of Calcutta,” History Today, 56.6 (June 2006). Available online.

(329.) Macaulay, “Clive,” 503, 486, 487.

(330.) See Philip K. Allingham, “The Moonstone and British India (1857, 1868, and 1876),” The Victorian Web. Available online.

(331.) Macaulay, “Clive,” 508, 509.

(332.) Macaulay, “Clive,” 503, and Thomas Macaulay, “Warren Hastings,” in Critical and Historical Essays, vol. 1 (London: Dent, 1966), 562.

(333.) Macaulay, “Hastings,” 624–625.

(334.) Karl Marx, “The British Rule in India,” in Surveys from Exile: Political Writings, vol. 2 (London: Verso, 2010), 301, 306. Capital, vol. 1 (London: Penguin, 1990), also briefly describes the unchanging nature of India and includes the phrase “from time immemorial.” See 477–479, 478. I have not included any discussion of Marx’s concept of the “Asiatic Mode of Production” since, as Curtis says, there is “no sustained, substantive, or systematic analysis” of it in Marx or Engels’ writings, and it has been very variously interpreted. See Curtis, Orientalism and Islam, 218, 217–218, 217–250.

(335.) Karl Marx, “The Indian Revolt,” in The Portable Karl Marx, ed. Eugene Kamenka (New York: Penguin, 1983), 351, 354.

(336.) Karl Marx, “Revolution in China and Europe,” in Surveys from Exile, 326, 327, 331.

(337.) Curtis, Orientalism and Islam, 197; Mill quoted in Curtis, Orientalism and Islam, 197.

(338.) John Stuart Mill, Writings on India (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 121–125.

(339.) Quoted in Curtis, Orientalism and Islam, 177, and see 203.

(340.) Quoted in Balachandra Rajan, Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 1999), 179.

(341.) For the quotation see Brantlinger, Rule, 232. For Tylor’s importance for Kingsley see Travels, 453, where she describes him as “this greatest of Ethnologists.”

(342.) Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor. A Selection by Rosemary O’Day and David Englander (London: Wordsworth Editions, 2008), xlix; for the final two quotations, see Brantlinger, Rule, 120.

(343.) Mayhew, London Labour, 3.

(344.) Mayhew, London Labour, 4.

(345.) See Brantlinger, Rule, 21–23.

(346.) William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out (Lexington, KY: Forgotten Books, 2009), 9, 12. The second part of Booth’s title, The Way Out, offer emigration as a partial solution. Some Victorian novels also suggest emigration as a solution for characters who cannot find a place in English society, like Dickens’s David Copperfield (1850) or Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Caxtons (1849). As Brantlinger says, Australia figured in the two contradictory tropes of “Arcadian redemption versus social damnation” (132).

(347.) Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (London: Wordsworth, 2013), 646.

(348.) Mayhew, London Labour, 3, 5–6.

(349.) Darwin, The Descent of Man, 592–599; see also 29, 72, 139, 183; Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 31.

(350.) Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1935), 102–104, 129.

(351.) See Edward Ziter, The Orient on the Victorian Stage (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 20. My discussion of Victorian theatrical Orientalism is greatly indebted to Ziter’s work, and many of my examples of theatrical productions and panoramas and so on are taken from his excellent book. Richard D. Altick’sThe Shows of London (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978) provides an exhaustive account of forms of popular entertainment such as panoramas and dioramas, exhibitions, and entertainments related to science and technology, in London in the 18th century and the first half of the 19th. While his account is not focused specifically on Orientalist spectacles, he does discuss various exhibitions, panoramas, and topics related to China and India, notably the Chinese Exhibition (292–294), the Chinese Junk (294–297), the East India House Museum (299–300), and China and India, including the Sepoy Mutiny, in panoramas (177).

(352.) Ziter, The Orient, 24–27; see also Altick, Shows, 128–210.

(353.) Ziter, The Orient, 38, 39–40, 40–41, 44; see also Altick, Shows, 207–208.

(354.) Ziter, The Orient, 50, 118, 119.

(355.) See Ross G. Forman, China and the Victorian Imagination: Empires Entwined (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 163 and see 161–192. I am greatly indebted to Forman’s efficient overview of the Chinese elements in melodrama, religious drama, and more popular forms of entertainment.

(356.) Forman, China, 192,

(357.) See Ziter, The Orient, 140–154.

(358.) Ziter, The Orient, 156.

(359.) Ziter, The Orient, 151.

(360.) Ziter, The Orient, 164–171. For further discussion of performances of Aladdin, see Marina Warner, 357–370.

(361.) Forman, China, 187, and see 180–182 for the less sympathetic later treatment of the Chinese.

(362.) Forman, China, 163.

(363.) Ziter, The Orient, 94–95.

(364.) Sander L., “Gilman, Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature,” in “Race,” Writing, and Difference, ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 237; see also 232–238.

(365.) Altick, Shows, 268–272.

(366.) Thackeray, Vanity Fair, 256.

(367.) Charles Dickens, “The Noble Savage,” in Dickens’ Journalism, vol. 3: “Gone Astray” and Other Papers from Household Words, ed. Michael Slater (London: Dent, 1998), 143.

(368.) For the Arab snake charmers, the Tunisian Court, and the Algerian family, see Ziter, The Orient, 94, 107–111; for the Native Americans see Altick, Shows, 275–279; for the Chinese see Forman, China, 164.

(369.) Ziter, The Orient, 112–113.

(370.) Ziter, The Orient, 87.

(371.) John M. MacKenzie, “Orientalism in the Theatre,” in Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1995), 194.

(372.) The play has a somewhat checkered publication and performance history: it was first written in French in 1891, and the French version was published in 1893, with the English version following in 1894. It was first performed in Paris in 1896 (in French); the English version was not performed in London until 1905.

(373.) Oscar Wilde, Salomé (London: Faber and Faber, 1989), 2, 5, 21–25, 32.

(374.) Wilde, Salomé, 57–59, 60–62.

(375.) See John M. MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (New York: Manchester University Press, 1995), 71–104.

(376.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” 72, 90–94.

(377.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” 72–79.

(378.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” 77.

(379.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” 77; Kiernan, quoted in Said, Orientalism, 52.

(380.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” 81.

(381.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” 86, 87.

(382.) Ziter, The Orient, 121.

(383.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Architecture,” 95, 96, 97.

(384.) Mark Crinson, Empire Building: Orientalism and Victorian Architecture (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 45, 63.

(385.) Crinson, Empire Building, 35, 194, 98–99, 151–152.

(386.) Crinson, Empire Building, 61–70.

(387.) The last two of these settings are not gendered in reality, but in paintings the slaves and the harem inmates are almost inevitably female.

(388.) See MacKenzie, “Preface” and “The ‘Orientalism’ Debate,” in Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester, U.K., and New York: Manchester University Press, 1995), xii–xix, 1–19.

(389.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Art,” in Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester, U.K., and New York: Manchester University Press, 1995), 59–60.

(390.) MacKenzie, “Orientalism in Art,” 52.

(391.) Alison Smith, David Blayney Brown, and Carol Jacobi, eds., Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past (London: Tate Publishing, 2015), 114–115.

(392.) Smith et al., Artist and Empire, 112–113, 116–117, 118–119.

(393.) Smith et al., Artist and Empire, 110–111.

(394.) Smith et al., Artist and Empire, 106–107, 105, 108–109.

(395.) Smith et al., Artist and Empire, 136–137, 148–149.

(396.) Smith et al., Artist and Empire, 34–35. These maps continued well into the 1950s and 1960s: the first atlas I ever saw as a child in the 1950s had what seemed like half the world colored pink.

(397.) Smith et al., Artist and Empire, 17, 32–33.

(398.) Kabbani, Imperial Fictions, 69; Reina Lewis, Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 110.

(399.) Lewis, Gendering Orientalism, 110, 111.

(400.) Kabbani, Orientalist Poetics, 70–71.

(401.) For Pfeiffer’s poems, see n. 44 above; for Lucy Snowe on the Odalisque, see Charlotte Brontë, Villette (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1984), 276, 275, 278.

(402.) Caracciolo, “Introduction,” in The Arabian Nights, 40; see also the plates between 146 and 147.

(403.) Blanchard Jerrold and Gustave Doré, The London of Gustave Doré (London: Wordsworth, 1987), 146.

(404.) A good number of Kipling’s poems continue the vein of incidental exotic Orientalism. “Mandalay” (1892) merges traditional Orientalist images with the ordinary soldier’s criticisms of home and homely women, as the speaker evokes “the palm-trees” and “the tinkly temple-bells” and declares that he has “a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!” See also: “Route Marchin’” (1892), ”The Last Suttee” (1889), “The Merchantmen” (1893), “The Ballad of the King’s Jest” (1890). See Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling (London: Wordsworth, 2001), 431–432, ll. 34, 42, 439–440, 248–251, 156–159, 257–260.

(405.) Kipling, “Our Lady of the Snows,” in Collected Poems, 190–191, ll. 3–4.

(406.) Isabel Quigly, “Introduction,” in The Complete Stalky and Co. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), xv–xix.

(407.) Kipling, “Recessional,” in Collected Poems, 340, ll. 15–16.

(408.) There is also a difference in his attitude to the white Dominions and the other colonies, although the poem, “England’s Answer” (1893) refers to “the ninefold bands” of “Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, the West Indies, Newfoundland, the Tropical Dependencies in the East, and the South Sea Islands,” thus excluding Africa but including other non-white colonies. See Kipling, Collected Poems, 185 n2.

(409.) Kipling, “Ave Imperatrix,” in Collected Poems, 176–177, ll. 21–24. Similar poems are “The Young Queen” (1900), “Hymn Before Action” (1896), “A School Song” (1899), and “The English Flag” (1891). See Kipling, Collected Poems, 195–196, 336–337, 582–584, 233–235.

(410.) Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” in Collected Poems, 334–335, ll. 18, 32, 36.

(411.) Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” 169–171, 179–181, 78–80, 441–442.

(412.) “The Ballad of East and West,” in Collected Poems, 245, ll. 1, 3–4.

(413.) Said, Orientalism, 54; Kipling, “We and They,” in Collected Poems, 791, ll. 37–40.

(414.) Poon, Enacting Englishness, 131–132.

(415.) Rudyard Kipling, The Complete Stalky and Co. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 296.

(416.) Kipling, Kim (London: Penguin, 1989), 100; Edward Said, “Introduction,” in Kim, 24–26.

(417.) These are to be found throughout the novel and many relate to Kim; one typical example is “for his own ends or Mahbub’s business, Kim could lie like an Oriental.” Kipling, Kim, 71.

(418.) Kipling, Kim, 191.

(419.) Kipling, Collected Poems, 411–412, 426–427, 443, 49–50, 279–280, 559–560.

(420.) For “Hadramauti” see Kipling, Collected Poems, 559, l. 1; for “One Viceroy Resigns” see Kipling, The Collected Poems, 73–78, where at one point the speaker, the retiring Viceroy of India, tells his replacement, “You’ll never plumb the Oriental mind, / And if you did, it isn’t worth the toil,” 73, ll. 28–29; he also challenges the new Viceroy “Twice a hundred million souls. / Your business!” 75, ll. 77–78, and “A country twice the size of France—the North / Safeguarded. That’s my record: sink the rest/And better if you can,” 76, ll. 122–124. Kim’s eponymous protagonist is also an outsider.

(421.) Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?,” in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, eds. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994), 104.

(422.) Kipling, “Gunga Din” and “Fuzzy-Wuzzy,” in Collected Poems, 420, l. 84, 412, l. 10.

(423.) Forman, China, 203–209 for Sims, 216–220 for Rohmer.

(424.) Forman, China, 217.

(425.) Forman, China, 219.

(426.) John Buchan, Greenmantle (London: Wordsworth, 1994), 11, 43.

(427.) Joseph Conrad, “Autocracy and War,” in Notes on Life and Letters (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1921), 89.

(428.) Joseph Conrad, “Poland Revisited,” in Notes on Life and Letters (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1921), 147.

(429.) Forman, China, 134.

(430.) T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland in Collected Poems 1909–1962 (London: Faber and Faber, 1963), 79, ll. 432–433, 86 note to l. 433.

(431.) For a selection of works on Said’s Orientalism as well as on Orientalism in Victorian literature, popular culture and entertainment, political discourse, and travel writing, see Valerie Kennedy, “Orientalism,” Oxford Bibliographies in Victorian Literature, 2015.

(432.) Donna Landry, “Said before Said,” in Debating Orientalism, ed. Ziad Elmarsafy (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), p. 63.

(433.) Bibliographic information about Ziter’s book and all the other works listed in the Review of the Literature is given in the Further Reading section.