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Adapting Shahrazad’s Odyssey

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

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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 II: Traveling across Time and Texts: Rewriting of Travel in Post-Shahrazadic Women’s Writing from the Middle East

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 PART II

Traveling across Time and Texts: Rewriting of Travel in Post-Shahrazadic Women’s Writing from the Middle East

The discussion of two Victorian texts in Part I addresses questions of colonialism and imperialism, set within the frame of gender. In The Story of an African Farm, Olive Schreiner raises the question of anti-colonialism within the boundaries of New Woman Fiction and precipitates a new postcolonial fiction narrating not only the dream of possible de-colonization of South Africa, but also the possible liberation of women living in a patriarchal society. Though more subtle than Schreiner, Christina Rossetti touches upon the question of colonialism with her word-play on Samuel Smiles’s book Self-Help and her appropriation of colonial adventure stories. She incorporates her anti-colonial and anti-imperialist position by creating a mock-epic in Speaking Likenesses.

In Part II, I turn to “Anglophone postcolonial” literature, a term that covers a vast geography (South Asia, Caribbean, West and South Africa, Australia, and the Middle East) and includes a large number of canonical writers such as Amitav Ghosh, J.M. Coetzee, Derek Walcott, Wole Soyinka, and Chinua Achebe. In The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures (1989), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin argue that the Anglophone postcolonial authors inevitably “write back” to the empire with or without substantial reference to previous writers and coin the term “writing back” as a sibling term for “adaptation.” Defiance about British imperialism enables a reassessment of the colonial cultural and literary...

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