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Adapting Shahrazad’s Odyssey

The Female Wanderer and Storyteller in Victorian and Contemporary Middle Eastern Literature


Eda Dedebas Dundar

Adapting Shahrazad’s Odyssey: The Female Wanderer and Storyteller in Victorian and Contemporary Middle Eastern Literature focuses on a comparative study of the figure of the female traveler and storyteller in nineteenth-century Victorian literature and contemporary Anglophone Middle Eastern writing. Eda Dedebas Dundar’s cutting-edge study is the first to discover a strong link between traveling texts and the traveling women in fiction, analyzing the ways in which she is molded by her previous exposure to stories. This unique and interdisciplinary book explores the relationship between traveling and writing through the incorporation of various disciplines, including gender studies and postcolonial studies.
Through close analysis, the author illuminates three main concepts: travel as a metaphor for rewriting, the female wanderer as the reworked adaptation of Odysseus and Shahrazad, and the notion of adaptation as a metatextual travel between Victorian and contemporary, nostalgia and progress. Scholars whose areas of expertise include nineteenth- and twentieth-century global Anglophone literature as well as travel writing and gender studies will find this text of particular interest. Moreover, this book further highlights fields of study in the humanities, including literature, gender studies, and civil liberties, aimed at an academic audience interested in travel narratives, women’s writing, postcolonial literature, women’s studies, and human rights. This text will be of special interest in courses such as Victorian women’s writing, Victorian children’s literature, global Anglophone literatures, women writers from the Middle East, and literary adaptation and appropriation.
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Chapter One: Wandering Epic Hero from a Critical Lens in Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm



Wandering Epic Hero from a Critical Lens in Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm

Women’s travel narratives in Anglophone literature have been canonical since at least the nineteenth century.1 The popular and acknowledged genre of women’s travel writing and the figure of the female wanderer coincide with the peak of imperialism in Britain. Broadly speaking, travel writing by nineteenth-century women writers serves two main purposes: First of all, women sought the opportunity to travel to the outskirts of the empire and continue the colonial legacy.2 Secondly, these travelogues underlined the British interest in Orientalism—regardless of whether the new destination was part of the empire or not—by exoticizing the places traveled. In addition to the colonies, Middle Eastern cities were intriguing for women travellers.3 In their study and critical reception of these travel narratives, scholars have emphasized their intersections with empire as well as gender relations.4

The notion of the female traveller carries significant implications in Victorian England. First, the traveling woman challenges Coventry Patmore’s popular phrase “The Angel in the House.” The female voyager proves that she is not constrained to social conventions and that she can be involved in a masculine activity. Secondly, the figure of the colonial, masculine traveller abundant in Victorian adventure stories is adapted as the traveling woman.5 When the figure of the wandering woman adapts the colonial, masculine figure, she provides an ← 23 | 24 → alternative perspective that reflects an anti-colonialist position. Thirdly, the...

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