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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 Three: Haunted by Past: Spatial, Temporal, and Metatextual Travel in Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of Love



Haunted by Past: Spatial, Temporal, and Metatextual Travel in Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of Love

As a writer interested in nineteenth-century canonical European literature, Ahdaf Soueif emphasizes rewriting of the past by bringing together two historical periods and a multiplicity of historical and contemporary travellers in The Map of Love. She challenges the conventional definition of travel by adding a third dimension, travel through time and texts, the characters in the present travel through reading letters and memoirs into the past, where another layer of travel also takes place. Building on the criticism on Neo-Victorian writing (Hadley; King; Heilmann and Llewellyn; Mitchell; Tolan; Joyce; Shiller) and Anglo-Arab feminist writing (Al Maleh; Golley; Malti-Douglas; Gauch), I argue that Soueif introduces a third dimension to the concept of travel; that is, metatextual travel, in which writing becomes a vehicle to travel through the texts written across time and space. Through her portrayal of four traveller/writer women, Soueif reconciles the Odyssean intertexts with the self-sacrificing woman figure in The Arabian Nights. As a postcolonial Neo-Victorian novel stretching over different time periods and spaces, The Map of Love paves the way for a more hybrid text and enables the amalgamation of Odysseus and Shahrazad.

The first part gives theoretical and informational background on Neo- Victorian writing and questions why Neo-Victorian criticism only focuses on novels from the British Isles. Despite the fact that Neo-Victorianism reexamines a period in which imperial endeavors were at their peak, critics...

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