By Srinivas Aravamudan
Srinivas Aravamudan the following finds how Oriental stories, pseudo-ethnographies, sexual fantasies, and political satires took Europe via typhoon throughout the eighteenth century. Naming this physique of fiction Enlightenment Orientalism, he poses a number of pressing questions that uncovers the interdependence of Oriental stories and family fiction, thereby tough general scholarly narratives concerning the upward thrust of the novel.
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Additional info for Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel
By the mid-twentieth century, as Mary Helen McMurran argues, Ian Watt substituted new obsessions around the rise of modernity for older obsessions around the origins and transmission of fiction. While fiction’s extranationality was key to the early novel’s emergence, historical narratives of the origins of fiction (such Enlightenment Orientalism 21 as Abbé Huet’s and Clara Reeve’s) gave way to universalist theories of fiction that seek the pragmatics of sociological grounding over speculations concerning cultural borrowing.
74 The translator suggests that “the late Humour of reading Oriental Romances . . has . . ”75 These prefaces to oriental tales can be analyzed alongside Abbé Huet’s and Clara Reeve’s theoretical treatises on the origin of fiction discussed in chapter 1. These prefaces, just like those appended to canonical eighteenth-century fictions later deemed novels and not romances, suggest that a history of fiction since classical times is better off acknowledging the long history of idealism (and anti-idealism) throughout its development, rather than assuming some inexorable march from romance falsity to realist purity.
Realist novels usurped the mantle of fictionality as everything else was declared insufficiently or faultily fictional. While some usurpers gain legitimacy by inventing an ancient genealogy (as Fielding famously did by defi ning the novel as “a mock-epic poem in prose”), current promoters of the eighteenth-century novel continue their special pleading with the new methodologies of cognitive science that happily validate Jane Austen’s as the most sophisticated form of narrative. 64 Can the complexity and length of epic be forgotten so quickly?