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|Title:||The Arabian nights and the modern short story :Stevenson, Wilde and Conrad|
|Abstract:||The Arabian Nights has been present in the literature of the West since the beginning of the eighteenth century and the translation of Antoine Galland in 1704. Critics have identified its stories in the work of a wide variety of Western writers, most notably, William Beckford, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson, W. M. Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Edgar Allan Poe, Gustave Flaubert, Stendhal, Goethe, Alexandre Dumas, Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy, Jorge Luis Borges, A. S. Byatt, and Marina Warner. However, relatively little has been said about the implications of The Arabian Nights for modern and modernist writers from James Joyce to Jean Rhys. Even less has been written on the relationship between the ancient epic and the emergence of the modern short story form. Focusing on the work of three short fiction writers who published on the cusp of modernism: Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, and Joseph Conrad, this thesis explores the place of The Arabian Nights in the emergence of modern short fiction in Britain. My study is not an attempt to trace the origins of The Arabian Nights as it features in modern short fiction. The project is more centrally concerned with how The Arabian Nights allows us to re-read the modern short story rather than the other way round. This thesis is less concerned with The Arabian Nights per se, than it is with how The Arabian Nights has been borrowed, taken up, appropriated, translated, adopted and adapted within a specific strand of modern short fiction published between 1877 and 1899. The borrowings I consider are both conscious and unconscious, casual and sustained, and it is not the aim of the thesis to trace back ‘Arabian Nights’ allusions to a precise origin, assuming such a thing were possible. Rather this thesis is more interested in The Arabian Nights as a recurring intertext of the short story. If, as I will argue, both The Arabian Nights and the modern short story have their origins in the oral tale, their intimacy also needs to be explained within the context of modern print culture. The turn of the century periodical incorporated and propagated tastes for exotic tales of the East for metropolitan audiences, a fact which undoubtedly informed the short fiction of Stevenson, Wilde and Conrad. Those same periodicals were looking to the past as much as the present, outwards as much as inwards. This is perhaps also true of the modern short story itself, which does not merely embrace the modern and embody it in short print forms, but also looks to the elongated oral tales associated with the likes of The Arabian Nights. Stevenson, Wilde, and Conrad represent a particularly concentrated response to The Arabian Nights at the turn of the century, when the modern short story in Britain was in its infancy. Through these writers, my study works to relocate the modern British short story (which I argue has been too readily restricted to the confines of England and Europe), within a broader transnational frame.|
|Appears in Collections:||School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics|
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