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Postcards From The Harem: The Cultural Translation Of Niccolao Manucci’s Book Of Travels

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the account of the seventeenth-century Venetian traveler Niccolao Manucci who spent fifty-six years in India. The two sections of this chapter unpack the global and local resonances of the questions of identity, nationalisms, and narrative authority in harem accounts. The first section, titled Authority and Postcards from the Edge locates the narrator as a literary character in his own account. It contextualizes Manucci's travel writing in global terms of national and cultural boundaries and transnational identities that interact in complex, webbed, cultural networks. The chapter addresses issues such as narrative authority and audience expectation through the trope of the literary postcard. The second section, Narrative Authority and the Harem, analyzes Manucci's experiences inside the harem. It also illustrates the ways his narrative authority is dissipated. The chapter suggests that by definition, harems, like other forbidden spaces, invite description even as they repel the gaze of the observer.

Keywords: cultural networks; Harem; Niccolao Manucci's narrative; postcards



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