History 2

Europe’s Myths of Orient: Devise and Rule by Rana Kabbani

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By Rana Kabbani

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This triggered a classic series of reactions: Lane installed her as his servant, attempted to prod her into reducing her fat, undertook the task of educating her ('she is making satisfactory progress in reading and writing, as well as needlework; which, with arithmetic, are all the accomplishments I wish her to acquire' 32 ), and ultimately, after much confusion of feeling varying from contempt to dependence, made her his wife. Lane's relationship with Nefeeseh paralleled his relation with the Orient in general; he was the mentor and the figure of power, and they were bound to him in tutelage.

7 Europeans in the East depended on each other's testimony to sustain their communal image of the Orient. Lane's book became a classic mainly because it instructed England about Egypt in keeping with a long tradition, using a system of thought that remained untainted by the very location it was describing. James Aldridge, for example, continuing to rely on the 'incestuousness' ofEuropean testimony, admired Lane's book as a revelation and described it as 'the most truthful and detailed account in English of how Egyptians lived and behaved'.

5 And yet Galland was not contemptuous of popular opinion. He had confessed to Cuper that he had wished to address a lay reader, to please rather than to instruct. He described his translation as one which was not 'attachee precisement au texte, qui n'auroit pas fait plaisir aux lecteurs. ' 54 In his effort to produce a pleasing text for his audience, Galland had curbed the Arabic vernacular to fit the exigent preciositi of eighteenth-century literary French. Je serais extremement surpris que vous fl)ssiez insensible a Ia perte que vous avez faites: pleurez, vos larmes sont d'infaillibles marques de votre excellente nature.

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