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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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Part I: Victorian Odysseys: The Legacy of Homer as Envisioned by Victorian Women Writers



Victorian Odysseys: The Legacy of Homer as Envisioned by Victorian Women Writers

In line with overpowering nineteenth-century interest in classical antiquity and adventure stories, Victorian women writers display an admiration for Homer and other canonical authors such as Vergil and Dante from the classical epic tradition. Akin to Victorian masculine adventure stories, they reformulate the ancient epic by incorporating and adapting the figure of the female wanderer and storyteller. The amalgamation of the traveller and the writer is highlighted through the figure of Odysseus, who—either intentionally or unintentionally—prolongs his kleos after the Trojan War recounting his travel adventures in the meantime. A similar sense of thirst for adventure and An interest in the discovery of the uncanny and the unfamiliar appear in Victorian women’s literature. The fascination with the ancient world and the unfamiliar particularly develops in two different genres of the period: 1) A Victorian female Bildungsroman makes connections between a woman’s coming of age through travel and colonial adventure stories and appropriates the colonial-adventure epic genre of the nineteenth century 2) A children’s adventure story with an adolescent female protagonist puts an ironic twist on the self-fulfilling quest of colonial stories. Both popular genres of the era not only imitate the classical period but also question and challenge existing narratives of the nineteenth century. The Victorian female Bildungsroman and children’s adventure stories come into being with the help of two canonical and prominent books, ← 17 | 18 → Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora...

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