Shifting Perceptions of Orient and Occident in Nineteenth-Century Arabic Travel Writing

Ibrahem Almarhaby


This study investigates the relationship between the Eastern Self and the Western Other by focusing on the influence of the French Other on the ideology of the Arab Self in modern Arabic travel literature. As a case study, the analysis has been conducted on Takhlīṣ al-Ibriz fī Talkhīṣ Paris [‘The extraction of pure gold in the abridgement of Paris’]. The 19th century, from which this source originates, is considered to be significant in terms of distinguishing modern travelogue literature from that of the medieval period, where the image of the Western Other in Arabs’ imagination dramatically changed due to colonialism. As one of the richest and most open approaches in textual analysis, the study adopts the thematic approach to shed light on the extent to which the ideological impact of the Other on the political, religious, civil and social domains of the Self can be seen in this wide-ranging travel source. The study infers that al-Ṭahṭāwī was greatly ideologically impacted by West in all of the allocated domains, as can be seen clearly in his comprehensive comparisons, descriptions and explanations. This influence is indeed what distinguishes this modern travelogue literature from the medieval ones.


Travel Literature, Arabic Literature, the Other, the Self, the nineteenth Century and Modern Arabic Travel Literature

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