The representation of the Arab world by twentieth century English writers: Lawrence Durrell, Edna O'Brien & Jonathan Raban

Hussein, Ahmed T. (1989) The representation of the Arab world by twentieth century English writers: Lawrence Durrell, Edna O'Brien & Jonathan Raban. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In the European narration of the Orient, there is a deliberate stress on those qualities that make the East different from the West.

In his Orientalism Edward Said offers perspectives for studying the Western works that depict the Orient and its people. He argues that the orientalist discourse has managed - and till now continues - to exile the Orient into an irretrievable state of "otherness”.

This thesis contains an analytical and critical examination of Said's views as presented in his book. It attempts to test Said's formulations against a deliberately assorted collection of English literary works.

The First Chapter sketches the general background to the theory of the orientalist discourse and to Said's views of the latter in regard to the Western documentation of the East and the Arabs. This chapter also offers an explanation for the deliberate choice of 'primary texts'.

The Second Chapter introduces Lawrence Durrell's work The Alexandria Quartet and examines how far Durrell adheres to the 'rituals' of the orientalists as defined by Said. The chapter's main focus is on Durrell's depiction of Alexandria as an Arab city.

Chapter Three is primarily concerned with Durrell's treatment of the 'desert'. This is compared to the introduction of the theme of the desert in the writing (The Seven Pillars of Wisdom) of T. E. Lawrence who is cited as a representative of the traditional English 'desert' writers.

Chapter Four contains an appreciation to Durrell's treatment to the theme of the 'quest'. The quest of Mountolive is compared to the treatment of that theme in William Beckford's Vathek.

Durrell's portrayal of the Alexandrian woman and 'Egyptian sexuality' is discussed in Chapter Five, with a retrospect to Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. The Chapter examines the differences and the similarities between old and modern presentations of the Alexandrian woman.

Chapter Six looks at Edna O'Brien's Arabian Days. This Chapter investigates the representation of the Arabs in the post-colonial post-oil modern time. It attempts to see if O'Brien's writing still conveys the old dogmas of the orientalist discourse.

Chapter Seven deals with Jonathan Raban's representation of the Arab World in his Arabia Through The Looking Glass. Raban's expedition to Arabia comes a few years after O'Brien's, and it is worth considering how far the two experiences are similar or different. The Chapter also tries to demonstrate the weight of Raban's work when taken in the context of mainstream representation of the Arabs and their world especially in the work of Durrell.

The Conclusion emphasizes the need for a fairer stand in relation to the depiction and the portrayal of one culture by another. It also poses the question of how far should portrayals be trusted or, indeed, be judged. It calls for the lifting up of the fog that clouds the visions of both sides in question.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Mackenzie, Dr. Donald
Date of Award: 1989
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:1989-30929
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2018 14:04
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2018 14:04

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