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Desert Passions

Orientalism and Romance Novels

By Hsu-Ming Teo

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

In 2006, Ned Curthoys asked me to revisit my earlier work on sheik novels and Orientalism for a conference at the Australian National University that he and Debjani Ganguli were organizing on the legacy of Edward Said. The idea for this book came out of that conference. ...

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pp. 1-26

When E. M. Hull’s The Sheik was published in 1919 and made into a film starring Rudolph Valentino, “sheik fever” was unleashed in the Western world. In the United States, the book went through fifty printings in 1921 alone, and it was one of the first novels to appear on the best-seller list for two consecutive years (Raub 120). ...

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1. Loving the Orient: The Romantic East and European Literature

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pp. 27-67

In 1146, the French king Louis VII embarked on the Second Crusade to Jerusalem accompanied by his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor had not been in the Holy Land for very long before rumors began spreading of her love affairs with various Muslim men. ...

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2. The Rise of the Desert Romance Novel

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pp. 68-86

At the age of thirty-two, Domini Enfilden is released from the burden of caring for her father—a harsh, embittered man whose half-Hungarian wife eloped with a musician while Domini was still a child. Orphaned, unmarried, alone in the world, but endowed with fortune and freedom for the first time in her life, Domini flees ...

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3. E. M. Hull’s The Sheik

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pp. 87-108

In 1919, a romance novel by a little-known Derbyshire woman was published featuring the story of the aristocratic but tomboyish Lady Diana Mayo, an English virgin who, in her travels through French colonial Algeria, is kidnapped by an Arab sheik and raped many times.1 ...

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4. The Spectacular East: Romantic Orientalism in America

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pp. 109-143

When The Sheik was published in the United States in 1921, it went through fifty printings in that year alone (Leider 153). It featured in the American best-seller list for two years, ranking as the sixth best-selling novel in 1921 before achieving second place in 1922 (Raub 119). ...

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5. The Orientalist Historical Romance Novel

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pp. 144-192

In 1998, the president of the Middle East Studies Association commented that “1978 was a very good year for landmark books on the Middle East . . . Edward Said’s Orientalism also appeared that year. I wonder if there’s been a better year since?” (Khoury 5) Philip Khoury’s remark was more apt than he could possibly have realized, ...

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6. The Contemporary Sheik Romance Novel: The Historical Background

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pp. 193-216

Romance fiction constitutes the largest segment of the American consumer book market today. In 2007, estimated earnings reached just under $1.4 billion. American publishers released around 8,090 titles that year, with fourteen percent of Americans buying twenty or more novels for themselves (RWA statistics, 2009). ...

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7. Harems, Heroines, and Heroes

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pp. 217-240

In the late 1960s, Lorna Morel, a cool, blond, middle-class English woman brought up in a convent school travels to Morocco and has to explain to an eager young Englishman that she doesn’t care to dance or get married, can’t bear to be touched by a man, and is not at all romantic by nature or inclination. ...

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8. From Tourism to Terrorism

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pp. 241-278

In Chapter 6, I made the point that the gradual revival of interest in the modern sheik romance novel beginning in the 1970s had less to do with events in the Middle East than with a confluence of other factors: a desire for alpha male heroes in Harlequin Mills & Boon romance novels; ...

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9. Reader Responses to the Modern Orientalist Romance Novel

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pp. 279-294

At the start of this book, I raised the question of why so many readers in the early twentieth century found it romantic to read about a white woman being raped into love and submission by an apparently Arab sheik. In this chapter, I consider why, in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, ...

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pp. 295-306

The al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, have had an enormous impact around the world. Two wars in Central Asia and the Middle East have resulted, embroiling the United States, Britain, Australia, and other members of the “Coalition of the Willing” in long-lasting battles, ...


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pp. 307-312


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pp. 313-338


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pp. 339-344

E-ISBN-13: 9780292739390
E-ISBN-10: 0292739397
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292739383
Print-ISBN-10: 0292739389

Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Orientalism in literature.
  • Love stories -- History and criticism.
  • Women in literature
  • East and West in literature.
  • Orient -- In literature.
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