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The Arabian Nights in Historical ContextBetween East and West$
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Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554157.001.0001

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Playing the Second String: The Role of Dinarzade in Eighteenth‐Century English Fiction

Playing the Second String: The Role of Dinarzade in Eighteenth‐Century English Fiction

Chapter:
(p.83) 3 Playing the Second String: The Role of Dinarzade in Eighteenth‐Century English Fiction
Source:
The Arabian Nights in Historical Context
Author(s):

Ros Ballaster

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554157.003.0004

Modern commentators have tended to overlook the significance of the role of Dinarzade in The Arabian Nights Entertainments, a significance not lost on earlier readers. To associate the text with enchantment and the pleasures of passive consumption of text is to focus only on the spell Scheherazade casts. This chapter seeks to redress this oversight by looking at a small number of novels by women readers of the Nights: Jane Austen, Sophia Lee, Eliza Fenwick, and Mary Hays—which explore the complicity between narrator and marginal interlocutor, frequently represented as a complicity between sisters, to promote an image of redeeming national identity for burgeoning empire. These novels participate in the ongoing project of shaping an enlightened reader able to exert both sympathy and skeptical discrimination. They also participate in the re-presentation of a myth of western empire as reformed empire: maritime, hybrid, mobile, adaptive and attentive to its environment.

Keywords:   novel, women writers, sisters, empire, reader, nation, narrator

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