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


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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A dignified woman reposes on a sofa. She appears calm but pensive, at once powerful and fragile, comfortable but aware of being watched. Her gaze, however, avoids the eye of the viewer; with her head slightly bowed to the left, it rests on what remains hidden from the frame of the picture. She reclines against a set of lush, dark blue cushions, with her left arm outstretched and her right, with a fan between the thumb and the index finger, resting on the thick material of her overcoat, the colour of which creates a pleasant contrast with the faded red of the chaise longue. The tip of her beige shoe sticks out from behind of her brown coat, touching the surface of a red and blue carpet and resonating with the corresponding light shade of the background. What most captures attention is the lady’s elaborate skirt, the only element in the picture which is not of a uniform fabric but uses sophisticated patterns and decorations. The alternating light-orange and white stripes run vertically all the way from the lady’s waist to about mid-calf, and horizontally across the sleeves. The waistline is further accentuated by a rich belt made up of two golden circles on a white, presumably leather, strap, while the décolletage remains largely bare, shaded only by a thin layer of creamy-white lace. As for adornments, the lady requires few, the whole outfit being already opulent and luxurious, topped by a white-fur collar shawl checked by...

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