Archive | May, 2014

Review: Arabian Society In The Middle Ages: Studies From The Thousand And One Nights

25 May

Arabian Society In The Middle Ages: Studies From The Thousand And One Nights
Arabian Society In The Middle Ages: Studies From The Thousand And One Nights by Edward William Lane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

According to Lane everything ‘Mohammadan’ is also Arabian. Lane lived in Egypt for several years, intermittently in the twenties and thirties of the nineteenth century. Even in Egypt he limited himself to certain Islamic quarters in Cairo and consciously avoided the other cultures and multiple heritages of one of the world’s oldest civilisations. He based his excessive annotations of A Thousand and One Nights on his culturally-limited experience in Cairo and applied them to all Islamic cultures which he described as Arabian. These notes have been put together in a separate book as a collection of essays titled Arabian Society in the Middle Ages. The notes are not helpful as descriptions of nineteenth century Eastern Mediterranean cultures (which Lane and his editor perceived as still medieval in essence), but are rather more useful in terms of understanding the picture Lane depicted to his Victorian audience of a backward and superstitious ‘Orient’.

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