'By Mortus Ali and our Persian gods': Multiple Persian Identities in Tamburlaine and The Travels of the Three English Brothers

  • Javad Ghatta University of New Brunswick


My article counters recent scholarship's monolithic understanding of English responses to the Islamic east during the Renaissance -- the so-called Turkish Islamism hegemony. Further, by positing that early modern England exercised a less hostile Orientalism towards Persians as emerging Islamic others than has previously been asserted, the essay suggests that the multiple and contradictory identities attributed to the Persians in some English texts of the period are indeed representative of the socio-political and ideological conditions of Safavid Persia (1501-1629). Reading through the discursive fissures and textual tensions of Marlowe's Tamburlaine and Day, Rowley, and Wilkins's Travels of the Three English Brothers, my argument as a whole proposes an alternative to the proto-Orientalist interpretation of these authors' (mis)representations of Islamic others; such a reading enables us to trace English awareness of the hybrid Safavid phenomenon at its inception, along with Zoroastrian, Sufist, Sunnite, and Shiite discourses.

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