Female Persian Scholars' Resistance to "The Orientalist Construction of Persia": A Critique of James Morier's The Adventure of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

Document Type : Research Papers


asisstant professor


The Western fascination with Persia, intensified though it was by the nineteenth century obsession with Indo-European languages, extends back into the classical origins of European culture. As Edward Said notes, Aeschylus' The Persians demonstrates how deeply embedded in the European mind is the belief in Persia's quintessential status as an Oriental society. For many Orientalists Persia demonstrated, perhaps more than any other Eastern country, the exotic otherness and romantic fantasy of Oriental culture. Said finds that Aeschylus "represents Asia, makes her speak in the person of the aged Persian queen, Xerxes' mother. It is Europe that articulates the Orient" (1978-57). However, while The Persians demonstrates how deeply embedded is Europe's power to create the Orient through the representation of Persia, it is perhaps James Justinian Morier's The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824) which best demonstrates the operations of Orientalist assumptions within literary discourse. It is also Hajji Baba rather than The Persians (despite the latter's higher literary merit) which has served most powerfully to perpetuate Orientalist assumptions about the superiority, corruption and deceitfulness of the Persians.


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