The advent of the 1979 Islamic Revolution made Iran and Islam dominant representational motifs in western media and literature. The preponderance of such representations revolved around the Iranian nation's identification as a Shiʿi Muslim-majority polity. As such, the Revolution's trajectory and its landmark events -such as the 1979 hostage crisis - were often construed in light of this fact. Prominent among literary representations of post-revolutionary Iran in western literature are V. S. Naipaul's 'Islamic' travelogues, Among the Believers (1981) and Beyond Belief (1998). This paper critiques Naipaul's representations of Iran and Shiʿi Islam in the two travel narratives, highlighting some of the most popular instances of myth and disinformation that the texts propagate. Thematic critique of the narratives is intended to shed light on the author's Orientalist approach and his engagement in ahistorical historicism, which -coupled with a conspicuous ignorance of Iran, Islam, and Shiʿism - has resulted in two of the most notorious literary tirades on Islam and the Muslim World.


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pp. 273-300
Launched on MUSE
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