• Imprint: Saqi Books
  • ISBN: 9780863566714
  • Published: May 2008
  • UK Price: £10.99
  • US Price: $16.95
  • Format: 190mm x 170mm
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Extent: 256pp
  • Subject:

Imperial Fictions

Europe's Myths of Orient

Rana Kabbani

Rana Kabbani unravels Western fantasies and myths about the East which were woven over the ages.

Devised during the Crusades to combat Islam, then confirmed by centuries of Western writers and artists, these myths fostered racial and sexual stereotypes that became vital to imperial designs.

In Orientalist travelogues and paintings, the British and the French conceived of an erotic and sinister East, one that they believed to be morally inferior and dangerous, and therefore ripe for colonisation. Such perceptions remain very much apparent today, fuelling the tension between East and West.

Imperial Fictions, now a classic, is an erudite analysis of Europe’s fabricated Orient, as expressed in its writings and illustrated in its paintings.

About the Author

Rana Kabbani is a writer and broadcaster. She is the author of Letter to Christendom, and has introduced and edited The Passionate Nomad: The Diary of Isabelle Eberhardt (both Virago). Her translation of Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry was published in Sand and Other Poems (Kegan Paul). She is a frequent contributor to the Guardian, and has written and presented many programmes for BBC radio and television.


8 pages of colour illustrations


‘A provocative and appropriately subversive book.’ The New York Times

‘Admirably pinpoints those aspects of the West’s imaginative involvement with the East which are still painful to own up to fully.’ The Sunday Times