Identifying with the Orient: exoticism and similarity in Jean Lahor’s Quatrains d’Al-Ghazali

Hartley, J. C. (2019) Identifying with the Orient: exoticism and similarity in Jean Lahor’s Quatrains d’Al-Ghazali. MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 14, pp. 48-56.

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This article looks at a rare example of a nineteenth-century author who sought to present the Orient in terms of its similarity rather than its difference: the minor Parnassian poet Jean Lahor (pen name of Henri Cazalis). Lahor’s collection of poems, Les Quatrains d’Al-Ghazali (first published in 1896 and then expanded for a second edition in 1907) presents the Islamic theologian Al-Ghazali as its author’s alter-ego. The article analyses the language of similarity used in the collection’s prefatory material and compares Lahor’s poems to their alleged sources, which are Al-Ghazali’s al-Munqidh min al-Dalāl and the Robāyyat of Omar Khayyam. It is shown that, ultimately, Lahor seeks to familiarize Al-Ghazali and remove their cultural differences in order to better exoticize himself. Lahor’s seemingly contradictory pursuit of similarity and exoticism is further explained in light of Edward Said’s and Tzvetan Todorov’s analyses of French writing on cultural difference.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hartley, Dr Julia
Authors: Hartley, J. C.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Comparative Literature
Journal Name:MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities
Publisher:Modern Humanities Research Association
ISSN (Online):1994-8662
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