Three Oriental Tales

Three Oriental Tales:

Frances Sheridan, History of Nourjahad
William Beckford,
and Lord Byron,
The Giaour

A New Riverside Edition

Houghton Mifflin, 2002

Edited by Alan Richardson

This New Riverside Edition, Three Oriental Tales, edited by Alan Richardson, presents for the first time together the complete texts of three of the most important and historically popular examples of the Oriental tale in Britain. Frances Sheridan's The History of Nourjahad (1767) is remarkable for both its mingling of didactic and exotic modes and its use of "Oriental" motifs to criticize European social arrangements. William Beckford's Vathek (1786) remains unparalleled as the most powerful, inventive, and disturbing fantasy in the British Orientalist tradition. Lord Byron's publication of The Giaour in 1813 sealed his reputation as the leading British poet of his generation while establishing the verse "Eastern Tale" as the popular successor to Orientalist prose fiction. Supporting contextual material includes samples of Orientalist writing from the Spectator, Samuel Johnson's Rambler, Oliver Goldsmith's Citizen of the World, and Maria Edgeworth's complete tale "Murad the Unlucky." A section of modern critical essays includes Marilyn Butler's definitive analysis of The Giaour as well as selections from Felicity Nussbuam, Adam Potkay, and Margaret Doody. Extensive notes, a chronology of British Orientalist writing, and a bibliography complete this exciting new collection.



A Note on the Texts

Literary Orientalism in Britain, from the Arabian Nights to Byron: A Select Chronology

The Tales

Frances Sheridan, The History of Nourjahad

William Beckford, Vathek

Original Notes to Vathek (1816)

George Gordon, Lord Byron, The Giaour

Original Notes to The Giaour

Contexts: The Rise of Literary Orientalism

"Preface" and "The Fourteenth Night" from Arabian Nights Entertainment (1713)

Spectator No. 578 (1714)

Samuel Johnson, Rambler No. 120 (1751)

Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World, Letter No. 33 (1760)

Maria Edgeworth, "Murad the Unlucky," from Popular Tales (1804)

Francis Jeffrey, review of The Giaour, Edinburgh Review 21 (1813)

Recent Criticism

Margaret Anne Doody, from "Frances Sheridan: Morality and Annihilated Time"

Felicity A. Nussbaum, from "The Empire of Love"

Adam Potkay, "Beckford's Heaven of Boys"

Marilyn Butler, "The Orientalism of Byron's Giaour"

Works Cited

For Further Reading