Edited By Mascha Hansen and Jürgen Klein
“OLD LAMPS FOR NEW”: THE RISE OF THE ORIENTAL TALE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AND ITS INFLUENCE ON ENGLISH LITERATURE AND CULTURE, Stefanie Schult
“OLD LAMPS FOR NEW”: THE RISE OF THE ORIENTAL TALE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AND ITS INFLUENCE ON ENGLISH LITERATURE AND CULTURE Stefanie Schult, E.M.A. Universität Greifswald In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. Thus begins Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous unfinished poem Kubla Khan , and even though Xanadu is as much a product of imagination as Alad- din’s magic lamp or the legendary creatures Sinbad encounters on his many sea voyages, it is reminiscent of the strange, alluring beauty of the Orient, of India and China, as well as Egypt, Arabia, and Persia. What prompted Coleridge and many other English writers throughout the ages to write about lands most of them had never actually visited were stories and legends brought back from the Oriental lands – tales collected on extensive journeys or snatched up by soldiers during one of Britain’s numerous campaigns in the Orient. This not only gave rise to a tradition of English Oriental tales in time, but it also had a profound ef- fect on the development of English literature and culture in general. In particular due to the growth of the British Empire from the eighteenth century onward, the formerly mysterious Orient, initially neglected as insignificant and barbaric, be- came more real and prominent in the minds of the English. It kindled their imagination and imbued them with a desire to see for themselves those stunning, foreign...
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