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Travelling in Different SkinsGender Identity in European Women's Oriental Travelogues, 1850-1950$
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Dúnlaith Bird

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644162.001.0001

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The Inky Body

The Inky Body

Writing Corporeality

(p.90) 4 The Inky Body
Travelling in Different Skins

Dúnlaith Bird

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the aesthetic representation of the female form in Orientalist painting and travel writing, and how these forms are contested and even dismembered in the vagabondage travelogue. Roughly following the historical trajectory of Orientalist painting in Britain and France, it opens with Olympe Audouard’s large format, full colour scenes of dismemberment and beheading in the Egyptian harem. It then moves to Isabella Bird’s deceptively simple watercolours and sketches of nineteenth century Japanese life, which conceal elements of monstrous hybridity and bloodless beheadings. It concludes with the twentieth-century surrealism of Isabelle Eberhardt’s travelogues, where the female body dissolves into the Algerian desert. The interweaving of text and image in these representations of the female body is fundamental to the development of the vagabondage travelogue.

Keywords:   bodies, Orientalism, aesthetics, harem, painting, dismemberment, Japan, physical danger, Egypt, illegitimacy

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