Dreaming of East: Western Women and the Exotic Allure of the Orient

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When Lady Mary Wortley Montagu visited the baths in Turkey in 1717 she was so tightly corseted that Turkish women were convinced her husband had locked her into some devious machine. Montagu’s account of her journey helped bring the region into the Western world’s consciousness, and by the 1800s, the vogue for Orientalia had overtaken a continent slowly sinking into the gloomy repressions of the Victorian era. Richly illustrated with color photos and sketches, Dreaming of East examines not just the exotic trappings of the Middle East but the heady freedoms it offered Western women. Conditioned to defer to men, women travelers were suddenly free to make their own choices and form their own opinions, ones that were respected by all people, including men. For a woman all too used to her inferior status, this venture into quasi-equality and latent sexuality was exhilarating. When she returned home, and found herself again relegated to second place, she would never be content there again.

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9781553651185: Dreaming of East: Western Women and the Exotic Allure of the Orient

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