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A Mosaic of Misunderstanding: Occident, Orient, and Facets of Mutual Misconstrual

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Julia Szołtysek

The book investigates relations between the ‘East’ and ‘West’ which have been forming and evolving from the Enlightenment until the present times. On the basis of material covering a selection of American, British and Turkish literature, as well as examples of Western Orientalist painting and musical (operatic) illustrations of analysed issues, the study aims to usher in a deeper and more nuanced understanding of post/colonial phenomena and their broader socio-cultural implications. The work attempts to accentuate the resonances and dissonances between various arts and disciplines, with the view to illuminating the organic nature of both inter- and intra-cultural relationships. The rationale behind such an orientation in research and methodology has not been to arrive at a final eclectic perspective, but rather, to promote a more comprehensive and diverse approach towards the ‘Other’.

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Chapter Three: Of Temptations Lady Mary Discovered, and Shared with Others

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Introduction

Much critical and scholarly attention has been devoted to a seemingly plain question which, however, continues to resist attempts at answering it – what makes a ‘good’ book? What is the key to the mystery of ‘quality’ novel writing? Or, more widely, what problematics, themes, times, situations, and characters might be deemed suitable for a ‘valuable’ work of fiction, and in fact any work of art, too? Immersing oneself in such musings quickly turns out to be like walking in a minefield, with dangers lurking for the (over-)zealous seeker each step of her/his way, including the risks of generalization, reductionism, and qualifying, to name but a few. One lasting formula for emerging victorious from this challenge was articulated by Edgar Allan Poe in his oft-quoted statement that

The death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world, and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover.258

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