Chapter 2: Orientalist Structures and Restructures
When the seyyid 'Omar, the Nakeeb el-Ashráf (or chief of the descendants of the Prophet) ...married a daughter, about forty-five years since, there walked before the procession a young man who had made an incision in his abdomen, and drawn out a large portion of his intestines, which he carried before him on a silver tray. After the procession, he restored them to their proper place, and remained in bed many days before he recovered from the effects of this foolish and disgusting act.
Edward William Lane,*An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians*
...dans le cas de la chute de cet empire, soit par une révolution à Constantinople, soit par un démembrement successif, lee puissances européennes prendront chacune, à titre de protectorat, la partie de l'empire qui lui sera assignée par les stipulations du congrès; que ces protectorate, définis et limités, quant aux territoires, selon lee voisinages, la sûreté des frontières, l'analogie de religions, de moeurs et d'interêts ...ne consacreront que la suzeraineté des puissances. Cette sorte de suzeraineté définie ainsi, et consacrée comme droit européen, consistera principalement dans le droit d'occuper telle partie du territoire ou des côtes, pour y fonder, soit des vines libres, soit des colonies européennes, soit des ports et des échelles de commerce Ce n'est qu'une tutelle armée et civilisatrice que chaque puissance exercera sur son protectorat; elle garantira son existence et ses éléments de nationalité, sous le drapeau d'une nationalité plus forte....
Alphonse de Lamartine,*Voyage en Orient*
I- Redrawn Frontiers, Redefined Issues, Secularized Religion
Gustave Flaubert died in 1880 without having finished Bouvardet Pécuchet, his comic encyclopedic novel on the degeneration of knowledge and the inanity of human effort. Nevertheless the essential outlines of his vision are clear, and are clearly supported by the ample detail of his novel. The two clerks are members of the bourgeoisie who, because one of them is the unexpected beneficiary of a handsome will, retire from the city to spend their lives on a country estate doing what they please ("nous ferons tout ce que nous plaira!"). As Flaubert portrays their experience, doing as they please involves Bouvard and Pecuchet in a practical and theoretical jaunt through agriculture, history, chemistry, education, archaeology, literature, always with less than successful results; they move through fields of learning like travelers in time and knowledge, experiencing the disappointments, disasters, and letdowns of uninspired amateurs. What they move through, in fact, is the whole disillusioning experience of the nineteenth century, whereby-in Charles Moraze's phrase-"les bourgeois conquerants" turn out to be the bumbling victims of their own leveling incompetence and mediocrity. Every enthusiasm resolves itself into a boring cliche, and every discipline or type of knowledge changes from hope and power into disorder, ruin, and sorrow.
Among Flaubert's sketches for the conclusion of this panorama of despair are two items of special interest to us here. The two men debate the future of mankind. Pécuchet sees "the future of Humanity through a glass darkly," whereas Bouvard sees it "brightly!"
Modern man is progressing, Europe will be regenerated by Asia. The historical law that civilization moves from Orient to Occident...the two forms of humanity will at last be soldered together.1
This obvious echo of Quinet represents the start of still another of the cycles of enthusiasm and disillusionment through which the two men will pass. Flaubert's notes indicate that like all his others, this anticipated project of Bouvard's is rudely interrupted by reality-this time by the sudden appearance of gendarmes who accuse him of debauchery. A few lines later, however, the second item of interest turns up. The two men simultaneously confess to each other that their secret desire is once again to become copyists. They have a double desk made for them, they buy books, pencils, erasers, and-as Flaubert concludes the sketch- "ils s'y mettent": they turn to. From trying to live through and apply knowledge more or less directly, Bouvard and Pecuchet are reduced finally to transcribing it uncritically from one text to another.
Although Bouvard's vision of Europe regenerated by Asia is not fully spelled out, it (and what it comes to on the copyist's desk) can be glossed in several important ways. Like many of the two men's other visions, this one isglobal and it isreconstructive; it represents what Flaubert felt to be the nineteenth-century predilection for the rebuilding of the world according to an imaginative vision, sometimes accompanied by a special scientific technique. Among the visions Flaubert has in mind are the utopias of Saint Simon and Fourier, the scientific regenerations of mankind envisioned by Comte, and all the technical or secular religions promoted by ideologues, positivists, eclectics, occultists, traditionalists, and idealists such as Destutt de Tracy, Cabanis, Michelet, Cousin, Proudhon, Cournot, Cabet, Janet, and Lamennais.2 Throughout the novel Bouvard and Pecuchet espouse the various causes of such figures; then, having ruined them, they move on looking for newer ones, but with no better results.
The roots of such revisionist ambitions as these are Romantic in a very specific way. We must remember the extent to which a major part of the spiritual and intellectual project of the late eighteenth century was a reconstituted theology-natural supernaturalism, as M. H. Abrams has called it; this type of thought is carried forward by the typical nineteenth-century attitudes Flaubert satirizes inBouvard et Pécuchet. The notion of regeneration therefore harks back to a conspicuous Romantic tendency, after the rationalism and decorum of the Enlightenment ...[to revert] to the stark drama and suprarational mysteries of the Christian story and doctrines and to the violent conflicts and abrupt reversals of the Christian inner life, turning on the extremes of destruction and creation, hell and heaven, exile and reunion, death and rebirth, dejection and joy, paradise lost and paradise regained.... But since they lived, inescapably, after the Enlightenment, Romantic writers revived these ancient matters with a difference: they undertook to save the overview of human history and destiny, the existential paradigms, and the cardinal values of their religious heritage, by reconstituting them in a way that would make them intellectually acceptable, as well as emotionally pertinent, for the time being.3
What Bouvard has in mind-the regeneration of Europe by Asia-was a very influential Romantic idea. Friedrich Schlegel and Novalis, for example, urged upon their countrymen, and upon Europeans in general, a detailed study of India because, they said, it was Indian culture and religion that could defeat the materialism and mechanism (and republicanism) of Occidental culture. And from this defeat would arise a new, revitalized Europe: the Biblical imagery of death, rebirth, and redemption is evident in this prescription. Moreover, the Romantic Orientalist project was not merely a specific instance of a general tendency; it was a powerful shaper of the tendency itself, as Raymond Schwab has so convincingly argued in LaRenaissance orientale. But what mattered was not Asia so much as Asia's use to modern Europe. Thus anyone who, like Schlegel or Franz Bopp, mastered an Oriental language was a spiritual hero, a knight-errant bringing back to Europe a sense of the holy mission it had now lost. It is precisely this sense that the later secular religions portrayed by Flaubert carry on in the nineteenth century. No less than Schlegel, Wordsworth, and Chateaubriand, Auguste Comte-like Bouvard-was the adherent and proponent of a secular post-Enlightenment myth whose outlines are unmistakably Christian.
In regularly allowing Bouvard and Pecuchet to go through revisionist notions from start to comically debased finish, Flaubert drew attention to the human flaw common to all projects. He saw perfectly well that underneath theidée reçue "Europe-regenerated-by-Asia" lurked a very insidious hubris. Neither "Europe" nor "Asia" was anything without the visionaries' technique for turning vast geographical domains into treatable, and manageable, entities. At bottom, therefore, Europe and Asia wereour Europe andour Asiaour will andrepresentation, as Schopenhauer had said. Historical laws were in realityhistorians' laws, just as "the two forms of humanity" drew attention less to actuality than to a European capacity for lending man-made distinctions an air of inevitability. As for the other half of the phrase-"will at last be soldered together"-there Flaubert mocked the blithe indifference of science to actuality, a science which anatomized and melted human entities as if they were so much inert matter. But it was not just any science he mocked: it was enthusiastic, even messianic European science, whose victories included failed revolutions, wars, oppression, and an unteachable appetite for putting grand, bookish ideas quixotically to work immediately. What such science or knowledge never reckoned with was its own deeply ingrained and unselfconscious bad innocence and the resistance to it of reality. When Bouvard plays the scientist he naively assumes that science merely is, that reality is as the scientist says it is, that it does not matter whether the scientist is a fool or a visionary; he (or anyone who thinks like him) cannot see that the Orient may not wish to regenerate Europe, or that Europe was not about to fuse itself democratically with yellow or brown Asians. In short, such a scientist does not recognize in his science the egoistic will to power that feeds his endeavors and corrupts his ambitions.
Flaubert, of course, sees to it that his poor fools are made to rub their noses in these difficulties. Bouvard and Pecuchet have learned that it is better not to traffic in ideas and in reality together. The novel's conclusion is a picture of the two of them now perfectly content to copy their favorite ideas faithfully from book onto paper. Knowledge no longer requires application to reality; knowledge is what gets passed on silently, without comment, from one text to another. Ideas are propagated and disseminated anonymously, they are repeated without attribution; they have literally becomeidées reçues: what matters is that they arethere, to be repeated, echoed, and re-echoed uncritically.
In a highly compressed form this brief episode, taken out of Flaubert's notes for Bouvardet Pécuchet, frames the specifically modern structures of Orientalism, which after all is one discipline among the secular (and quasi-religious) faiths of nineteenth-century European thought. We have already characterized the general scope of thought about the Orient that was handed on through the medieval and Renaissance periods, for which Islam was the essential Orient. During the eighteenth century, however, there were a number of new, interlocking elements that hinted at the coming evangelical phase, whose outlines Flaubert was later to re-create.
For one, the Orient was being opened out considerably beyond the Islamic lands. This quantitative change was to a large degree the result of continuing, and expanding, European exploration of the rest of the world. The increasing influence of travel literature, imaginary utopias, moral voyages, and scientific reporting brought the Orient into sharper and more extended focus. If Orientalism is indebted principally to the fruitful Eastern discoveries of Anquetil and Jones during the latter third of the century, these must be seen in the wider context created by Cook and Bougainville, the voyages of Tournefort and Adanson, by the President de Brosses'sHistoire des navigations aux terres australes, by French traders in the Pacific, by Jesuit missionaries in China and the Americas, by William Dampier's explorations and reports, by innumerable speculations on giants, Patagonians, savages, natives, and monsters supposedly residing to the far east, west, south, and north of Europe. But all such widening horizons had Europe firmly in the privileged center, as main observer (or mainly observed, as in Goldsmith'sCitizen of the World). For even as Europe moved itself outwards, its sense of cultural strength was fortified. From travelers' tales, and not only from great institutions like the various India companies, colonies were created and ethnocentric perspectives secured.4
For another, a more knowledgeable attitude towards the alien and exotic was abetted not only by travelers and explorers but also by historians for whom European experience could profitably be compared with other, as well as older, civilizations. That powerful current in eighteenth-century historical anthropology, described by scholars as the confrontation of the gods, meant that Gibbon could read the lessons of Rome's decline in the rise of Islam, just as Vico could understand modern civilization in terms of the barbaric, poetic splendor of their earliest beginnings.Whereas Renaissance historians judged the Orient inflexibly as an enemy, those of the eighteenth century confronted the Orient's peculiarities with some detachment and with some attempt at dealing directly with Oriental source material, perhaps because such a technique helped a European to know himself better. George Sale's translation of the Koran and his accompanying preliminary discourse illustrate the change. Unlike his predecessors, Sale tried to deal with Arab history in terms of Arab sources; moreover, he let Muslim commentators on the sacred text speak for themselves.5 In Sale, as throughout the eighteenth century, simple comparatism was the early phase of the comparative disciplines (philology, anatomy, jurisprudence, religion) which were to become the boast of nineteenth-century method.
But there was a tendency among some thinkers to exceed comparative study, and its judicious surveys of mankind from "China to Peru," by sympathetic identification. This is a third eighteenthcentury element preparing the way for modern Orientalism. What today we call historicism is an eighteenth-century idea; Vico, Herder, and Hamann, among others, believed that all cultures were organically and internally coherent, bound together by a spirit, genius,Klima, or national idea which an outsider could penetrate only by an act of historical sympathy. Thus Herder'sIdeen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (1784-1791) was a panoramic display of various cultures, each permeated by an inimical creative spirit, each accessible only to an observer who sacrificed his prejudices toEinfuhlung. Imbued with the populist and pluralist sense of history advocated by Herder and others,6 an eighteenth-century mind could breach the doctrinal walls erected between the West and Islam and see hidden elements of kinship between himself and the Orient. Napoleon is a famous instance of this (usually selective) identification by sympathy. Mozart is another;The Magic Flute (in which Masonic codes intermingle with visions of .a benign Orient) andThe Abduction from the Seraglio locate a particularly magnanimous form of humanity in the Orient. And this, much more than the modish habits of "Turkish" music, drew Mozart sympathetically eastwards.
It is very difficult nonetheless to separate such intuitions of the Orient as Mozart's from the entire range of pre-Romantic and Romantic representations of the Orient as exotic locale. Popular Orientalism during the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth attained a vogue of considerable intensity. But even this vogue, easily identifiable in William Beckford, Byron, Thomas Moore, and Goethe, cannot be simply detached from the interest taken in Gothic tales, pseudomedieval idylls, visions of barbaric splendor and cruelty. Thus in some cases the Oriental representation can be associated with Piranesi's prisons, in others with Tiepolo's luxurious ambiences, in still others with the exotic sublimity of late-eighteenth-century paintings.7 Later in the nineteenth century, in the works of Delacroix and literally dozens of other French and British painters, the Oriental genre tableau carried representation into visual expression and a life of its own (which this book unfortunately must scant). Sensuality, promise, terror, sublimity, idyllic pleasure, intense energy: the Orient as a figure in the pre-Romantic, pretechnical Orientalist imagination of late-eighteenth-century Europe was really a chameleonlike quality called (adjectivally) "Oriental."8 But this free-floating Orient would be severely curtailed with the advent of academic Orientalism.
A fourth element preparing the way for modern Orientalist structures was the whole impulse to classify nature and man into types. The greatest names are, of course, Linnaeus and Buffon, but the intellectual process by which bodily (and soon moral, intellectual, and spiritual) extension-the typical materiality of an object-could be transformed from mere spectacle to the precise measurement of characteristic elements was very widespread. Linnaeus said that every note made about a natural type "should be a product of number, of form, of proportion, of situation," and indeed, if one looks in Kant or Diderot or Johnson, there is everywhere a similar penchant for dramatizing general features, for reducing vast numbers of objects to a smaller number of orderable and describabletypes. In natural history, in anthropology, in cultural generalization, a type had a particularcharacter which provided the observer with a designation and, as Foucault says, "a controlled derivation." These types and characters belonged to a system, a network of related generalizations. Thus,
all designation must be accomplished by means of a certain relation to all other possible designations. To know what properly appertains to one individual is to have before one the classification-or the possibility of classifying-all others.9
In the writing of philosophers, historians, encyclopedists, and essayists we find character-as-designation appearing as physiologicalmoral classification: there are, for example, the wild men, the Europeans, the Asiatics, and so forth. These appear of course in Linnaeus, but also in Montesquieu, in Johnson, in Blumenbach, in Soemmerring, in Kant. Physiological and moral characteristics are distributed more or less equally: the American is "red, choleric, erect," the Asiatic is "yellow, melancholy, rigid," the African is "black, phlegmatic, lax."10 But such designations gather power when, later in the nineteenth century, they are allied with character as derivation, as genetic type. In Vico and Rousseau, for example, the force of moral generalization is enhanced by the precision with which dramatic, almost archetypal figures-primitive man, giants, heroes-are shown to be the genesis of current moral, philosophic, even linguistic issues. Thus when an Oriental was referred to, it was in terms of such genetic universals as his "primitive" state, his primary characteristics, his particular spiritual background.
The four elements I have described--expansion, historical confrontation, sympathy, classification-are the currents in eighteenth century thought on whose presence the specific intellectual and institutional structures of modern Orientalism depend. Without them Orientalism, as we shall see presently, could not have occurred. Moreover, these elements had the effect of releasing the Orient generally, and Islam in particular, from the narrowly religious scrutiny by which it had hitherto been examined (and judged) by the Christian West. In other words, modern Orientalism derives from secularizing elements in eighteenth-century European culture. One, the expansion of the Orient further east geographically and further back temporally loosened, even dissolved, the Biblical framework considerably. Reference points were no longer Christianity and Judaism, with their fairly modest calendars and maps, but India, China, Japan, and Sumer, Buddhism, Sanskrit, Zoroastrianism, and Manu. Two, the capacity for dealing historically (and not reductively, as a topic of ecclesiastical politics) with non-European and non-Judeo-Christian cultures was strengthened as history itself was conceived of more radically than before; to understand Europe properly meant also understanding the objective relations between Europe and its own previously unreachable temporal and cultural frontiers. In a sense, John of Segovia's idea ofcontraferentia between Orient and Europe was realized, but in a wholly secular way; Gibbon could treat Mohammed as a historical figure who influenced Europe and not as a diabolical miscreant hovering somewhere between magic and false prophecy. Three, a selective identification with regions and cultures not one's own wore down the obduracy of self and identity, which had been polarized into a community of embattled believers facing barbarian hordes. The borders of Christian Europe no longer served as a kind of custom house; the notions of human association and of human possibility acquired a very wide general-as opposed to parochial-legitimacy. Four, the classifications of mankind were systematically multiplied as the possibilities of designation and derivation were refined beyond the categories of what Vico called gentile and sacred nations; race, color, origin, temperament, character, and types overwhelmed the distinction between Christians and everyone else.
But if these interconnected elements represent a secularizing tendency, this is not to say that the old religious patterns of human history and destiny and "the existential paradigms" were simply removed. Far from it: they were reconstituted, redeployed, redistributed in the secular frameworks just enumerated. For anyone who studied the Orient a secular vocabulary in keeping with these frameworks was required. Yet if Orientalism provided the vocabulary, the conceptual repertoire, the techniques-for this is what, from the end of the eighteenth century on, Orientalism did and what Orientalism was-it also retained, as an undislodged current in its discourse, a reconstructed religious impulse, a naturalized supernaturalism. What I shall try to show is that this impulse in Orientalism resided in the Orientalist's conception of himself, of the Orient, and of his discipline.
The modern Orientalist was, in his view, a hero rescuing the Orient from the obscurity, alienation, and strangeness which he himself had properly distinguished. His research reconstructed the Orient's lost languages, mores, even mentalities, as Champollion reconstructed Egyptian hieroglyphics out of the Rosetta Stone. The specific Orientalist techniques-lexicography, grammar, translation, cultural decoding-restored, fleshed out, reasserted the values both of an ancient, classical Orient and of the traditional disciplines of philology, history, rhetoric, and doctrinal polemic. But in the process, the Orient and Orientalist disciplines changed dialectically, for they could not survive in their original form. The Orient, even in the "classic" form which the Orientalist usually studied, was modernized, restored to the present; the traditional disciplines too were brought into contemporary culture. Yet both bore the traces of power to have resurrected, indeed created, the Orient, power that dwelt in the new, scientifically advanced techniques of philology and of anthropological generalization. In short, having transported the Orient into modernity, the Orientalist could celebrate his method, and his position, as that of a secular creator, a man who made new worlds as God had once made the old. As for carrying on such methods and such positions beyond the life-span of any individual Orientalist, there would be a secular tradition of continuity, a lay order of disciplined methodologists, whose brotherhood would be based, not on blood lineage, but upon a common discourse, a praxis, a library, a set of received ideas, in short, a doxology, common to everyone who entered the ranks. Flaubert was prescient enough to see that in time the modern Orientalist would become a copyist, like Bouvard and Pecuchet; but during the early days, in the careers of Silvestre de Sacy and Ernest Renan, no such danger was apparent.
My thesis is that the essential aspects of modern Orientalist theory and praxis (from which present-day Orientalism derives) can be understood, not as a sudden access of objective knowledge about the Orient, but as a set of structures inherited from the past, secularized, redisposed, and re-formed by such disciplines as philology, which in turn were naturalized, modernized, and laicized substitutes for (or versions of) Christian supernaturalism. In the form of new texts and ideas, the East was accommodated to these structures. Linguists and explorers like Jones and Anquetil were contributors to modern Orientalism, certainly, but what distinguishes modern Orientalism as a field, a group of ideas, a discourse, is the work of a later generation than theirs. If we use the Napoleonic expedition (1798-1801) as a sort of first enabling experience for modern Orientalism, we can consider its inaugural heroes-in Islamic studies, Sacy and Renan and Lane-to be builders of the field, creators of a tradition, progenitors of the Orientalist brotherhood. What Sacy, Renan, and Lane did was to place Orientalism on a scientific and rational basis. This entailed not only their own exemplary work but also the creation of a vocabulary and ideas that could be used impersonally by anyone who wished to become an Orientalist. Their inauguration of Orientalism was a considerable feat. It made possible a scientific terminology; it banished obscurity and instated a special form of illumination for the Orient; it established the figure of the Orientalist as central authorityfor the Orient; it legitimized a special kind of specifically coherent Orientalist work; it put into cultural circulation a form of discursive currency by whose presence the Orient henceforth would bespoken for; above all, the work of the inaugurators carved out a field of study and a family of ideas which in turn could form a community of scholars whose lineage, traditions, and ambitions were at once internal to the field and external enough for general prestige. The more Europe encroached upon the Orient during the nineteenth century, the more Orientalism gained in public confidence. Yet if this gain coincided with a loss in originality, we should not be entirely surprised, since its mode, from the beginning, was reconstruction and repetition.
One final observation: The late-eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century ideas, institutions, and figures I shall deal with in this chapter are an important part, a crucial elaboration, of the first phase of the greatest age of territorial acquisition ever known. By the end of World War I Europe had colonized 85 percent of the earth. To say simply that modern Orientalism has been an aspect of both imperialism and colonialism is not to say anything very disputable. Yet it is not enough to say it; it needs to be worked through analytically and historically. I am interested in showing how modern Orientalism, unlike the precolonial awareness of Dante and d'Herbelot, embodies a systematic discipline of accumulation.And far from this being exclusively an intellectual or theoretical feature, it made Orientalism fatally tend towards the systematic accumulation of human beings and territories. To reconstruct a dead or lost Oriental language meant ultimately to reconstruct a dead or neglected Orient; it also meant that reconstructive precision, science, even imagination could prepare the way for what armies, administrations, and bureaucracies would later do on the ground, in the Orient. In a sense, the vindication of Orientalism was not only its intellectual or artistic successes but its later effectiveness, its usefulness, its authority. Surely it deserves serious attention on all those counts.
II- Silvestre de Sacy and Ernest Renan: Rational Anthropology and Philological Laboratory
The two great themes of Silvestre de Sacy's life are heroic effort and a dedicated sense of pedagogic and rational utility.Born in 1757 into a Jansenist family whose occupation was traditionally that of notaire, Antoine-Isaac-Silvestre was privately tutored at a Benedictine abbey, first in Arabic, Syriac, and Chaldean, then in Hebrew. Arabic in particular was the language that opened the Orient to him since it was in Arabic, according to Joseph Reinaud, that Oriental material, both sacred and profane, was then to be found in its oldest and most instructive form.11 Although a legitimist, in 1769 he was appointed the first teacher of Arabic at the newly created school oflangues orientales vivantes, of which he became director in 1824. In 1806 he was named professor at the College de France, although from 1805 on he was the resident Orientalist at the French Foreign Ministry. There his work (unpaid until 1811) at first was to translate the bulletins of the Grande Armee and Napoleon'sManifesto of 1806, in which it was hoped that "Muslim fanaticism" could be excited against Russian Orthodoxy. But for many years thereafter Sacy created interpreters for the French Oriental dragomanate, as well as future scholars. When the French occupied Algiers in 1830, it was Sacy who translated the proclamation to the Algerians; he was regularly consulted on all diplomatic matters relating to the Orient by the foreign minister, and on occasion by the minister of war. At the age of seventy-five he replaced Dacier as secretary of the Academie des Inscriptions, and also became curator of Oriental manuscripts at the Bibliotheque royale. Throughout his long and distinguished career his name was rightly associated with the restructuring and re-forming of education (particularly in Oriental studies) in post-Revolutionary France.12 With Cuvier, Sacy in 1832 was made a new peer of France.
It was not only because he was the first president of the Societe asiatique (founded in 1822) that Sacy's name is associated with the beginning of modern Orientalism; it is because his work virtually put before the profession an entire systematic body of texts, a pedagogic practice, a scholarly tradition, and an important link between Oriental scholarship and public policy. In Sacy's work, for the first time in Europe since the Council of Vienne, there was a self-conscious methodological principle at work as a coeval with scholarly discipline. No less important, Sacy always felt himself to be a man standing at the beginning of an important revisionist project. He was a self-aware inaugurator, and more to the point of our general thesis, he acted in his writing like a secularized ecclesiastic for whom his Orient and his students were doctrine and parishioners respectively. The Duc de Broglie, an admiring contemporary, said of Sacy's work that it reconciled the manner of a scientist with that of a Biblical teacher, and that Sacy was the one man able to reconcile "the goals of Leibniz with the efforts of Bossuet."13 Consequently everything he wrote was addressed specifically to students (in the case of his first work, hisPrincipes de grammaire générale of 1799, the student was his own son) and presented, not as a novelty, but as a revised extract of the best that had already been done, said, or written.
These two characteristics-the didactic presentation to students and the avowed intention of repeating by revision and extract-are crucial. Sacy's writing always conveys the tone of a voice speaking; his prose is dotted with first-person pronouns, with personal qualifications, with rhetorical presence. Even at his most recondite-as in a scholarly note on third-century Sassanid numismatics-one senses not so much a pen writing as a voice pronouncing. The keynote of his work is contained in the opening lines of the dedication to his son of thePrincipes de grammaire générale: "C'est à toi, mon cher Fils, que ce petit ouvrage a été entrepris"-which is to say, I am writing (or speaking) to you because you need to know these things, and since they don't exist in any serviceable form, I have done the work myself for you. Direct address: utility: effort: immediate and beneficent rationality. For Sacy believed that everything could be made clear and reasonable, no matter how difficult the task and how obscure the subject. Here are Bossuet's sternness and Leibniz's abstract humanism, as well as thetone of Rousseau, all together in the same style.
The effect of Sacy's tone is to form a circle sealing off him and his audience from the world at large, the way a teacher and his pupils together in a closed classroom also form a sealed space. Unlike the matter of physics, philosophy, or classical literature, the matter of Oriental studies is arcane; it is of import to people who already have an interest in the Orient but want to know the Orient better, in a more orderly way, and here the pedagogical discipline is more effective than it is attractive. The didactic speaker, therefore,displays his material to the disciples, whose role it is to receive what is given to them in the form of carefully selected and arranged topics. Since the Orient is old and distant, the teacher's display is a restoration, a re-vision of what has disappeared from the wider ken. And since also the vastly rich (in space, time, and cultures) Orient cannot be totally exposed, only its most representative parts need be. Thus Sacy's focus is the anthology, the chrestomathy, the tableau, the survey of general principles, in which a relatively small set of powerful examples delivers the Orient to the student. Such examples are powerful for two reasons: one, because they reflect Sacy's powers as a Western authority deliberately taking from the Orient what its distance and eccentricity have hitherto kept hidden, and two, because these examples have the semiotical power in them (or imparted to them by the Orientalist) to signify the Orient.
All of Sacy's work is essentially compilatory; it is thus ceremoniously didactic and painstakingly revisionist. Aside from thePrincipes de grammaire générale, he produced aChrestomathie arabe in three volumes (1806 and 1827 ), an anthology of Arab grammatical writing (1825), an Arabic grammar of 1810 (dl'usage des élèves de l'Ecole spéciale), treatises on Arabic prosody and the Druze religion, and numerous short works on Oriental numismatics, onomastics, epigraphy, geography, history, and weights and measures. He did a fair number of translations and two extended commentaries onCalila and Dumna and theMaqamat of al-Hariri. As editor, memorialist, and historian of modem learning Sacy was similarly energetic. There was very little of note in other related disciplines with which he was not aucourant, although his own writing was single-minded and, in its non-Orientalist respects, of a narrow positivist range.
Yet when in 1802 the Institut de France was commissioned by Napoleon to form atableau générale on the state and progress of the arts and sciences since 1789, Sacy was chosen to be one of the team of writers: he was the most rigorous of specialists and the most historical-minded of generalists. Dacier's report, as it was known informally, embodied many of Sacy's predilections as well as containing his contributions on the state of Oriental learning. Its title-Tableau historique de l'érudition française-announces the new historical (as opposed to sacred) consciousness. Such consciousness is dramatic: learning can be arranged on a stage set, as it were, where its totality can be readily surveyed. Addressed to the king, Dacier's preface stated the theme perfectly. Such a survey as this made it possible to do something no other sovereign had attempted, namely to take in, with one coupd'oeil, the whole of human knowledge. Had such atableau historique been undertaken in former times, Dacier continued, we might today have possessed many masterpieces now either lost or destroyed; the interest and utility of the tableau were that it preserved knowledge and made it immediately accessible. Dacier intimated that such a task was simplified by Napoleon's Oriental expedition, one of whose results was to heighten the degree of modern geographical knowledge.14
(At no point more than in Dacier's entire discours do we see how the dramatic form of atableau historique has its use-equivalent in the arcades and counters of a modern department store.)
The importance of theTableau historique for an understanding of Orientalism's inaugural phase is that it exteriorizes the form of Orientalist knowledge. and its features, as it also describes the Orientalist's relationship to his subject matter. In Sacy's pages on Orientalism-as elsewhere in his writing-he speaks of his own work as havinguncovered, brought to light, rescued a vast amount of obscure matter. Why? In orderto place it before the student. For like all his learned contemporaries Sacy considered a learned work a positive addition to an edifice that all scholars erected together. Knowledge was essentially themaking visible of material, and the aim of a tableau was the construction of a sort of Benthamite Panopticon. Scholarly discipline was therefore a specific technology of power: it gained for its user (and his students) tools and knowledge which (if he was a historian) had hitherto been lost.15 And indeed the vocabulary of specialized power and acquisition is particularly associated with Sacy's reputation as a pioneer Orientalist. His heroism as a scholar was to have dealt successfully with insurmountable difficulties; he acquired the means to present a field to his students where there was none. Hemade the books, the precepts, the examples, said the Duc de Broglie of Sacy. The result was the production of material about the Orient, methods for studying it, and exempla that even Orientals did not have.16
Compared with the labors of a Hellenist or a Latinist working on the Institut team, Sacy's labors were awesome. They had the texts, the conventions, the schools; he did not, and consequently had to go about making them. The dynamic of primary loss and subsequent gain in Sacy's writing is obsessional; his investment in it was truly heavy. Like his colleagues in other fields he believed that knowledge is seeing-pan-optically, so to speak-but unlike them he not only had to identify the knowledge, he had to decipher it, interpret it, and most difficult, make it available. Sacy's achievement was to have produced a whole field. As a European he ransacked the Oriental archives, and he could do so without leaving France. What texts he isolated, he then brought back; he doctored them; then he annotated, codified, arranged, and commented on them. In time, the Orient as such became less important than what the Orientalist made of it; thus, drawn by Sacy into the sealed discursive place of a pedagogical tableau, the Orientalist's Orient was thereafter reluctant to emerge into reality.
Sacy was much too intelligent to let his views and his practice stand without supporting argument. First of all, he always made it plain why the "Orient" on its own could not survive a European's taste, intelligence, or patience. Sacy defended the utility and interest of such things as Arabic poetry, but what he was really saying was that Arabic poetry had to be properly transformed by the Orientalist before it could begin to be appreciated. The reasons were broadly epistemological, but they also contained an Orientalistic self-justification. Arabic poetry was produced by a completely strange (to Europeans) people, under hugely different climatic, social, and historical conditions from those a European knows; in addition, such poetry as this was nourished by "opinions, prejudices, beliefs, superstitions which we can acquire only after long and painful study." Even if one does go through the rigors of specialized training, much of the description in the poetry will not be accessible to Europeans "who have attained to a higher degree of civilization." Yet what we can master is of great value to us as Europeans accustomed to disguise our exterior attributes, our bodily activity, and our relationship to nature. Therefore, the Orientalist's use is to make available to his compatriots a considerable range of unusual experience, and still more valuable, a kind of literature capable of helping us understand the "truly divine" poetry of the Hebrews.17
So if the Orientalist is necessary because he fishes some useful gems out of the distant Oriental deep, and since the Orient cannot be known without his mediation, it is also true that Oriental writing itself ought not to be taken in whole. This is Sacy's introduction to his theory of fragments, a common Romantic concern. Not only are Oriental literary productions essentially alien to the European; they also do not contain a sustained enough interest, nor are they written with enough "taste and critical spirit," to merit publication except as extracts(pour meriter d'être publies autrement que par extrait). 18 Therefore the Orientalist is required topresent the Orient by a series of representative fragments, fragments republished, explicated, annotated, and surrounded with still more fragments. For such a presentation a special genre is required: the chrestomathy, which is where in Sacy's case the usefulness and interest of Orientalism are most directly and profitably displayed. Sacy's most famous production was the three-volumeChrestomathie arabe, which was sealed at the outset, so to speak, with an internally rhyming Arabic couplet: "Kitab al-anis al-mufid lil-Taleb al-mustafid;/wa gam'i al shathur min manthoum wa manthur" (A book pleasant and profitable for the studious pupil;/it collects fragments of both poetry and prose).
Sacy's anthologies were used very widely in Europe for several generations. Although what they contain was claimed as typical, they submerge and cover the censorship of the Orient exercised by the Orientalist. Moreover, the internal order of their contents, the arrangement of their parts, the choice of fragments, never reveal their secret; one has the impression that if fragments were not chosen for their importance, or for their chronological development, or for their aesthetic beauty (as Sacy's were not), they must nevertheless embody a certain Oriental naturalness, or typical inevitability. But this too is never said. Sacy claims simply to have exerted himself on behalf of his students, to make it unnecessary for them to purchase (or read) a grotesquely large library of Oriental stuff. In time, the reader forgets the Orientalist's effort and takes the restructuring of the Orient signified by a chrestomathy as the Orient tout court. Objective structure (designation of Orient) and subjective restructure (representation of Orient by Orientalist) become interchangeable. The Orient is overlaid with the Orientalist's rationality; its principles become his. From being distant, it becomes available; from being unsustainable on its own, it becomes pedagogically useful; from being lost, it is found, even if its missing parts have been made to drop away from it in the process. Sacy's anthologies not only supplement the Orient; they supply it as Oriental presence to the West.19 Sacy's work canonizes the Orient; it begets a canon of textual objects passed on from one generation of students to the next.
And the living legacy of Sacy's disciples was astounding. Every major Arabist in Europe during the nineteenth century traced his intellectual authority back to him. Universities and academies in France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and especially Germany were dotted with the students who formed themselves at his feet and through the anthological tableaux provided by his work.20 As with all intellectual patrimonies, however, enrichments and restrictions were passed on simultaneously. Sacy's genealogical originality was to have treated the Orient as something to be restored not only because of but also despite the modern Orient's disorderly and elusive presence. Sacyplaced the Arabs in the Orient, which was itself placed in the general tableau of modern learning. Orientalism belonged therefore to European scholarship, but its material had to be re-created by the Orientalist before it could enter the arcades alongside Latinism and Hellenism. Each Orientalist re-created his own Orient according to the fundamental epistemological rules of loss and gain first supplied and enacted by Sacy. Just as he was the father of Orientalism, he was also the discipline's first sacrifice, for in translating new texts, fragments, and extracts subsequent Orientalists entirely displaced Sacy's work by supplying their own restored Orient. Nevertheless the process he started would continue, as philology in particular developed systematic and institutional powers Sacy had never exploited. This was Renan's accomplishment: to have associated the Orient with the most recent comparative disciplines, of which philology was one of the most eminent.
The difference between Sacy and Renan is the difference between inauguration and continuity. Sacy is the originator, whose work represents the field's emergence and its status as a nineteenth-century discipline with roots in revolutionary Romanticism. Renan derives from Orientalism's second generation: it was his task to solidify the official discourse of Orientalism, to systematize its insights, and to establish its intellectual and worldly institutions. For Sacy, it was his personal efforts that launched and vitalized the field and its structures; for Renan, it was his adaptation of Orientalism to philology and both of them to the intellectual culture of his time that perpetuated the Orientalist structures intellectually and gave them greater visibility.
Renan was a figure in his own right neither of total originality nor of absolute derivativeness. Therefore as a cultural force or as an important Orientalist he cannot be reduced simply to his personality nor to a set of schematic ideas in which he believed. Rather, Renan is best grasped as a dynamic force whose opportunities were already created for him by pioneers like Sacy, yet who brought their achievements into the culture as a kind of currency which he circulated and recirculated with (to force the image a little further) his own unmistakable re-currency. Renan is a figure who must be grasped, in short, as a type of cultural and intellectual praxis, as a style for making Orientalist statements within what Michel Foucault would call the archive of his time.21 What matters is not only the things that Renan said but also how he said them, what, given his background and training,-he chose to use as his subject matter, what to combine with what, and so forth. Renan's relations with his Oriental subject matter, with his time and audience, even with his own work, can be described, then, without resorting to formulae that depend on an unexamined assumption of ontological stability (e.g., theZeitgeist, the history of ideas, life-and-times). Instead we are able to read Renan as a writer doing something describable, in a place defined temporally, spatially, and culturally (hence archivally), for an audience and, no less important, for the furtherance of his own position in the Orientalism of his era.
Renan came to Orientalism from philology, and it is the extraordinarily rich and celebrated cultural position of that discipline that endowed Orientalism with its most important technical characteristics. For anyone to whom the wordphilology suggests dry-as-dust and inconsequential word-study, however, Nietzsche's proclamation that along with the greatest minds of the nineteenth century he is a philologist will come as a surprise-though not if Balzac'sLouis Lambert is recalled:
What a marvelous book one would write by narrating the life and adventures of a word! Undoubtedly a word has received various impressions of the events for which it was used; depending on the places it was used, a word has awakened different kinds of impressions in different people; but is it not more grand still to consider a word in its triple aspect of soul, body, and movement?22
What is the category, Nietzsche will ask later, that includes himself, Wagner, Schopenhauer, Leopardi, all as philologists? The term seems to include both a gift for exceptional spiritual insight into language and the ability to produce work whose articulation is of aesthetic and historical power.Although the profession of philology was born the day in 1777 "when F. A. Wolf invented for himself the name ofstud. philol.," Nietzsche is nevertheless at pains to show that professional students of the Greek and Roman classics are commonly incapable of understanding their discipline: "they never reach theroots of the matter: they never adduce philology as a problem." For simply "as knowledge of the ancient world philology cannot, of course, last forever; its material is exhaustible."23 It is this that the herd of philologists cannot understand. But what distinguishes the few exceptional spirits whom Nietzsche deems worthy of praise-not unambiguously, and not in the cursory way that I am now describing-is their profound relation to modernity, a relation that is given them by their practice of philology.
Philology problematizes-itself,its practitioner, the present. It embodies a peculiar condition of being modern and European, since neither of those two categories has true meaning without being related to an earlier alien culture and time. What Nietzsche also sees is philology as something born,made in the Viconian sense as a sign of human enterprise, created as a category of human discovery, self-discovery, and originality. Philology is a way of historically setting oneself off, as great artists do, from one's time and an immediate past even as, paradoxically and antinomically, one actually characterizes one's modernity by so doing.
Between the Friedrich August Wolf of 1777 and the Friedrich Nietzsche of 1875 there is Ernest Renan, an Oriental philologist, also a man with a complex and interesting sense of the way philology and modern culture are involved in each other. InL'Avenir de la science (written in 1848 but not published till 1890) he wrote that "the founders of modern mind are philologists." And what is modern mind, he said in the preceding sentence, if not "rationalism, criticism, liberalism, [all of which] were founded on the same day as philology?" Philology, he goes on to say, is both a comparative discipline possessed only by moderns and a symbol of modern (and European) superiority; every advance made by humanity since the fifteenth century can b0 attributed to minds we should call philological. The job of philology in modern culture (a culture Renan calls philological) is to continue to see reality and nature clearly, thus driving out supernaturalism, and to continue to keep pace with discoveries in the physical sciences. But more than all this, philology enables a general view of human life and of the system of things: "Me, being there at the center, inhaling the perfume of everything, judging, comparing, combining, inducing-in this way I shall arrive at the very system of things." There is an unmistakable aura of power about the philologist. And Renan makes his point about philology and the natural sciences:
To do philosophy is to know things; following Cuvier's nice phrase, philosophyis instructing the world in theory. Like Kant I believe that every purely speculative demonstration has no more validity than a mathematical demonstration, and can teach us nothing about existing reality. Philology is theexact science of mental objects[La philologie est la science exacte des choses de l'esprit]. It is to the sciences of humanity what physics and chemistry are to the philosophic sciences of bodies.24
I shall return to Renan's citation from Cuvier, as well as to the constant references to natural science, a little later. For the time being, we should remark that the whole middle section ofL'Avenir de la science is taken up with Renan's admiring accounts of philology, a science he depicts as being at once the most difficult of all human endeavors to characterize and the most precise of all disciplines. In the aspirations of philology to a veritable science of humanity, Renan associates himself explicitly with Vico, Herder, Wolf, and Montesquieu as well as with such philological near- contemporaries as Wilhelm von Humboldt, Bopp, and the great Orientalist Eugene Burnouf (to whom the volume is dedicated). Renan locates philology centrally within what he everywhere refers to as the march of knowledge, and indeed the book itself is a manifesto of humanistic meliorism, which, considering its subtitle ("Pensées de 1848") and other books of 1848 likeBouvard et Pécuchet andThe Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, is no mean irony. In a sense, then, the manifesto generally and Renan's accounts of philology particularly-he had by then already written the massive philological treatise on Semitic languages that had earned him the Prix Volney-were designed to place Renan as an intellectual in a clearly perceptible relationship to the great social issues raised by 1848. That he should choose to fashion such a relationship on the basis of theleast immediate of all intellectual disciplines (philology), the one with the least degree of apparentpopular relevance, the most conservative and the most traditional, suggests the extreme deliberateness of Renan's position. For he did not really speak as one man to all men but rather as a reflective, specialized voice that took, as he put it in the 1890 preface, the inequality of races and the necessary domination of the many by the few for granted as an antidemocratic law of nature and society.25
But how was it possible for Renan to hold himself and what he was saying in such a paradoxical position? For what was philology on the one hand if not a science of all humanity, a science premised on the unity of the human species and the worth of every human detail, and yet what was the philologist on the other hand if notas Renan himself proved with his notorious race prejudice against the very Oriental Semites whose study had made his professional name26 --a harsh divider of men into superior and inferior races, a liberal critic whose work harbored the most esoteric notions of temporality, origins, development, relationship, and human worth? Part of the answer to this question is that, as his early letters of philological intent to Victor Cousin, Michelet, and Alexander von Humboldt show,27 Renan had a strong guild sense as a professional scholar, a professional Orientalist, in fact, a sense that put distance between himself and the masses. But more important, I think, is Renan's own conception of his role as an Oriental philologist within philology's larger history, development, and objectives as he saw them. In other words, what may to us seem like paradox was the expected result of how Renan perceived his dynastic position within philology, its history and inaugural discoveries, and what he, Renan, did within it. Therefore Renan should be characterized, not as speaking about philology, but rather asspeaking philologically with all the force of an initiate using the encoded language of a new prestigious science none of whose pronouncements about language itself could be construed either directly or naively.
As Renan understood, received, and was instructed in philology, the discipline imposed a set of doxological rules upon him. To be a philologist meant to be governed in one's activity first of all by a set of recent revaluative discoveries that effectively began the science of philology and gave it a distinctive epistemology of its own: I am speaking here of the period roughly from the 1780s to the mid-1830s, the latter part of which coincides with the period of Renan's beginning his education. His memoirs record how the crisis of religious faith that culminated in the loss of that faith led him in 1845 into a life of scholarship: this was his initiation into philology, its world-view, crises, and style. He believed that on a personal level his life reflected the institutional life of philology. In his life, however, he determined to be as Christian as he once was, only now without Christianity and with what he called "la science laique" (lay science).28
The best example of what a lay science could and could not do was provided years later by Renan in a lecture given at the Sorbonne in 1878, "On the Services Rendered by Philology to the Historical Sciences." What is revealing about this text is the way Renan clearly had religion in mind when he spoke about philology-for example, what philology, like religion, teaches us about the origins of humanity, civilization, and language-only to make it evident to his hearers that philology could deliver a far less coherent, less knitted together and positive message than religion.29 Since Renan was irremediably historical and, as he once put it, morphological in his outlook, it stood to reason that the only way in which, as a very young man, he could move out of religion into philological scholarship was to retain in the new lay science the historical world-view he had gained from religion. Hence, "one occupation alone seemed to me to be worthy of filling my life; and that was to pursue my critical research into Christianity [an allusion to Renan's major scholarly project on the history and origins of Christianity] using those far ampler means offered me by lay science."30 Renan had assimilated himself to philology according to his own post Christian fashion.
The difference between the history offered internally by Christianity and the history offered by philology, a relatively new discipline, is precisely what made modern philology possible, and this Renan knew perfectly. For whenever "philology" is spoken of around the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, we are to understand thenew philology, whose major successes include comparative grammar, the reclassification of languages into families, and the final rejection of the divine origins of language. It is no exaggeration to say that these accomplishments were a more or less direct consequence of the view that held language to be an entirely human phenomenon. And this view became current once it was discovered empirically that the so-called sacred languages (Hebrew, primarily) were neither of primordial antiquity nor of divine provenance. What Foucault has called the discovery of language was therefore a secular event that displaced a religious conception of how God delivered language to man in Eden.31 Indeed, one of the consequences of this change, by which, an etymological, dynastic notion of linguistic filiation was pushed aside by the view of language as a domain all of its own held together with jagged internal structures and coherences, is the dramatic subsidence of interest in the problem of the origins of language. Whereas in the 1770s, which is when Herder's essay on the origins of language wont the 1772 medal from the Berlin Academy, it was all the rage to discuss that problem, by the first decade of the new century it was all but banned as a topic for learned dispute in Europe.
On all sides, and in many different ways, what William Jones stated in hisAnniversary Discourses (1785-1792), or what Franz Bopp put forward in hisVergleichende Grammatik (1832), is that the divine dynasty of language was ruptured definitively and discredited as an idea. A new historical conception, in short, was needed, since Christianity seemed unable to survive the empirical evidence that reduced the divine status of its major text. For some, as Chateaubriand put it, faith was unshakable despite new knowledge of how Sanskrit outdated Hebrew: "Hélas! il est arrivé qu'une connaissance plus approfondie de la langue savante de l'Inde a fait rentrer ces siècles innombrables dans le cercle ètroit de la Bible.Bien m'en a pris d'etre redevenue croyant, avant d'avoir éprouvé cette mortification."32 (Alas! it has happened that a deeper knowledge of the learned language of India has forced innumerable centuries into the narrow circle of the Bible. How lucky for me that I have become a believer again before having had to experience this mortification.) For others, especially philologists like the pioneering Bopp himself, the study of language entailed its own history, philosophy, and learning, all of which did away with any notion of a primal language given by the Godhead to man in Eden. As the study of Sanskrit and the expansive mood of the later eighteenth century seemed to have moved the earliest beginnings of civilization very far east of the Biblical lands, so too language became less of a continuity between an outside power and the human speaker than an internal field created and accomplished by language users among themselves. There was no first language, just as---except by a method I shall discuss presently-there was no simple language.
The legacy of these first-generation philologists was, to Renan, of the highest importance, higher even than the work done by Sacy. Whenever he discussed language and philology, whether at the beginning, middle, or end of his long career, he repeated the lessons of the new philology, of which the antidynastic, anticontinuous tenets of a technical (as opposed to a divine) linguistic practice are the major pillar. For the linguist, language cannot be pictured as the result of force emanating unilaterally from God. As Coleridge put it, "Language is the armory of the human mind; and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests."33 The idea of a first Edenic language gives way to the heuristic notion of a protolanguage (Indo-European, Semitic) whose existence is never a subject of debate, since it is acknowledged that such a language cannot be recaptured but can only be reconstituted in the philological process. To the extent that one language serves, again heuristically, as a touchstone for all the others, it is Sanskrit in its earliest Indo-European form. The terminology has also shifted: there are nowfamilies of languages (the analogy with species and anatomical classifications is marked), there isperfect linguistic form, which need not correspond to any "real" language, and there are original languages only as a function of the philological discourse, not because of nature.
But some writers shrewdly commented on how it was that Sanskrit and things Indian in general simply took the place of Hebrew and the Edenic fallacy. As early as 1804 Benjamin Constant noted in hisJournal intime that he was not about to discuss India in hisDe la religion because the English who owned the place and the Germans who studied it indefatigably had made India thetons et origo of everything; and then there were the French who had decided after Napoleon and Champollion that everything originated in Egypt and the new Orient.34 These teleological enthusiasms were fueled after 1808 by Friedrich Schlegel's celebrated Über die Sprache and Weisheit der Indier, which seemed to confirm his own pronouncement made in 1800 about the Orient being the purest form of Romanticism.
What Renan's generation-educated from the mid-1830s to the late 1840s-retained from all this enthusiasm about the Orient was the intellectual necessity of the Orient for the Occidental scholar of languages, cultures, and religions.Here the key text was Edgar Quinet'sLe Génie des religions (1832), a work that announced the Oriental Renaissance and placed the Orient and the West in a functional relationship with each other. I have already referred to the vast meaning of this relationship as analyzed comprehensively by Raymond Schwab inLa Renaissance orientale; my concern with it here is only to note specific aspects of it that bear upon Renan's vocation as a philologist and as an Orientalist. Quinet's association with Michelet, their interest in Herder and Vico, respectively, impressed on them the need for the scholar-historian to confront, almost in the manner of an audience seeing a dramatic event unfold, or a believer witnessing a revelation, the different, the strange, the distant. Quinet's formulation was that the Orient proposes and the West disposes: Asia has its prophets, Europe its doctors (its learned men, its scientists: the pun is intended). Out of this encounter, a new dogma or god is born, but Quinet's point is that both East and West fulfill their destinies and confirm their identities in the encounter. As a scholarly attitude the picture of a learned Westerner surveying as if from a peculiarly suited vantage point the passive, seminal, feminine, even silent and supine East, then going on toarticulate the East, making the Orient deliver up its secrets under the learned authority of a philologist whose power derives from the ability to unlock secret, esoteric languages-this would persist in Renan. What did not persist in Renan during the 1840s, when he served his apprenticeship as a philologist, was the dramatic attitude: that was replaced by the scientific attitude.
For Quinet and Michelet, history was a drama. Quinet suggestively describes the whole world as a temple and human history as a sort of religious rite. Both Michelet and Quinet saw the world they discussed. The origin of-human history was something they could describe in the same splendid and impassioned and dramatic terms used by Vico and Rousseau to portray life on earth in primitive times. For Michelet and Quinet there is no doubt that they belong to the communal European Romantic undertaking "either in epic or some other major genre-in drama, in prose romance, or in the visionary `greater Ode'-radically to recast into terms appropriate to the historical and intellectual circumstances of their own age, the Christian pattern of the fall, the redemption, and the emergence of a new earth which will constitute a restored paradise."35 I think that for Quinet the idea of a new god being born was tantamount to the filling of the place left by the old god; for Renan, however, being a philologist meant the severance of any and all connections with the old Christian god, so that instead a new doctrine-probably science would stand free and in a new place, as it were. Renan's whole career was devoted to the fleshing out of this progress.
He put it very plainly at the end of his undistinguished essay on the origins of language: man is no longer an inventor, and the age of creation is definitely over.36 There was a period, at which we can only guess, when man was literally transported from silence into words. After that there was language, and for the true scientist the task is to examine how language is, not how it came about. Yet if Renan dispels the passionate creation of primitive times (which had excited Herder, Vico, Rousseau, even Quinet and Michelet) he instates a new, and deliberate, type of artificial creation, one that is performed as a result of scientific analysis. In hisleçon inaugurale at the College de France (February 21, 1862) Renan proclaimed his lectures open to the public so that it might see at first hand "le laboratoire même de la science philologique" (the very laboratory of philological science).37 Any reader of Renan would have understood that such a statement was meant also to carry a typical if rather limp irony, one less intended to shock than passively to delight.For Renan was succeeding to the chair of Hebrew, and his lecture was on the contribution of the Semitic peoples to the history of civilization. What more subtle affront could there be to "sacred" history than the substitution of a philological laboratory for divine intervention in history; and what more telling way was there of declaring the Orient's contemporary relevance to be simply as material for European investigation?38 Sacy's comparatively lifeless fragments arranged in tableaux were now being replaced with something new.
The stirring peroration with which Renan concluded hisleçon had another function than simply to connect Oriental-Semitic philology with the future and with science. Ĕtienne Quatremère, who immediately preceded Renan in the chair of Hebrew, was a scholar who seemed to exemplify the popular caricature of what a scholar was like. A man of prodigiously industrious and pedantic habits, he went about his work, Renan said in a relatively unfeeling memorial minute for theJournal des débats in October 1857, like a laborious worker who even in rendering immense services nevertheless could not see the whole edifice being constructed. The edifice was nothing less than "la science historique de l'esprit humain," now in the process of being built stone by stone.39 Just as Quatremère was not of this age, so Renan in his work was determined to be of it. Moreover, if the Orient had been hitherto identified exclusively and indiscriminately with India and China, Renan's ambition was to carve out a new Oriental province for himself, in this case the Semitic Orient. He had no doubt remarked the casual, and surely current, confusion of Arabic with Sanskrit (as in Balzac'sLa Peau de chagrin, where the fateful talisman's Arabic script is described as Sanskrit), and he made it his job accordingly to do for the Semitic languages what Bopp had done for the Indo-European: so he said in the 1855 preface to the comparative Semitic treatise.40 Therefore Renan's plans were to bring the Semitic languages into sharp and glamorous focus àla Bopp, and in addition to elevate the study of these neglected inferior languages to the level of a passionate new science of mind àla Louis Lambert.
On more than one occasion Renan was quite explicit in his assertions that Semites and Semitic werecreations of Orientalist philological study.41 Since he was the man who did the study, there was meant to be little ambiguity about the centrality of his role in this new, artificial creation. But how did Renan mean the wordcreation in these instances? And how was this creation connected with either natural creation, or the creation ascribed by Renan and others to the laboratory and to the classificatory and natural sciences, principally what was called philosophical anatomy? Here we must speculate a little. Throughout his career Renan seemed to imagine the role of science in human life as (and I quote in translation as literally as I can)"telling (speaking or articulating) definitively to man the word [logos?] of things."42 Science gives speech to things; better yet, science brings out, causes to be pronounced, a potential speech within things. The special value of linguistics (as the new philology was then often called) is not that natural science resembles it, but rather that it treats words as natural, otherwise silent objects, which are made to give up their secrets. Remember that the major breakthrough in the study of inscriptions and hieroglyphs was the discovery by Champollion that the symbols on the Rosetta Stone had aphonetic as well as a semantic component.43 To make objects speak was like making words speak, giving them circumstantial value, and a precise place in a rule-governed order of regularity. In its first sense,creation, as Renan used the word, signified the articulation by which an object likeSemitic could be seen as a creature of sorts. Second, creation also signified the setting -in the case of Semitic it meant Oriental history, culture, race, mind-illuminated and brought forward from its reticence by the scientist. Finally, creation was the formulation of a system of classification by which it was possible to see the object in question comparatively with other like objects; and by "comparatively" Renan intended a complex network of paradigmatic relations that obtained between Semitic and Indo-European languages.
If in what I have so far said I have insisted so much on Renan's comparatively forgotten study of Semitic languages, it has been for several important reasons. Semitic was the scientific study to which Renan turned right after the loss of his Christian faith; I described above how he came to see the study of Semitic as replacing his faith and enabling .a critical future relation with it. The study of Semitic was Renan's first full-length Orientalist and scientific study (finished in 1847, published first in 1855), and was as much a part of his late major works on the origins of Christianity and the history of the Jews as it was a propaedeutic for them. In intention, if not perhaps in achievement-interestingly, few of the standard or contemporary works in either linguistic history or the history of Orientalism cite Renan with anything more than cursory attention44 ---his Semitic opus was proposed as a philological breakthrough, from which in later years he was always to draw retrospective authority for his positions (almost always bad ones) on religion, race, and nationalism.45 Whenever Renan wished to make a statement about either the Jews or the Muslims, for example, it was always with his remarkably harsh (and unfounded, except according to the science he was practicing) strictures on the Semites in mind. Furthermore, Renan's Semitic was meant as a contribution both to the development of Indo-European linguistics and to the differentiation of Orientalisms. To the former Semitic was a degraded form, degraded in both the moral and the biological sense, whereas to the latter Semitic was a-if not the-stable form of cultural decadence. Lastly, Semitic was Renan's first creation, a fiction invented by him in the philological laboratory to satisfy his sense of public place and mission. It should by no means be lost on us that Semitic was for Renan's ego the symbol of European (and consequently his) dominion over the Orient and over his own era.
Therefore, as a branch of the Orient, Semitic was not fully a natural object like a species of monkey, for instance-nor fully an unnatural or a divine object, as it had once been considered. Rather, Semitic occupied a median position, legitimated in its oddities (regularity being defined by Indo-European) by an inverse relation to normal languages, comprehended as an eccentric, quasimonstrous phenomenon partly because libraries, laboratories, and museums could serve as its place of exhibition and analysis. In his treatise, Renan adopted a tone of voice and a method of exposition that drew the maximum from book-learning and from natural observation as practiced by men like Cuvier and the Geoffroy Saint-Hilaires père et fils. This is an important stylistic achievement, for it allowed Renan consistently to avail himself of the library, rather than either primitivity or divine fiat, as a conceptual framework in which to understand language, together with the museum, which is where the results of laboratory observation. are delivered for exhibition, study, and teaching.46 Everywhere Renan treats of normal human facts-language, history, culture, mind, imagination-as transformed into something else, as something peculiarly deviant, because they are Semitic and Oriental, and because they end up for analysis in the laboratory. Thus the Semites are rabid monotheists who produced no mythology, no art, no commerce, no civilization; their consciousness is a narrow and rigid one; all in all they represent "une combinaison inférieure de la nature humaine."47 At the same time Renan wants it understood that he speaks of a prototype, .not a real Semitic type with actual existence (although he violated this too by discussing present-day Jews and Muslims with less than scientific detachment in many places in his writings).48 So on the one hand we have the transformation of the human into the specimen, and on the other the comparative judgment rendered by which the specimen remains a specimen and a subject for philological, scientific study.
Scattered throughout theHistoire générale et systéme comparé des langues sémitiques are reflections on the links between linguistics and anatomy, and for Renan this is equally important-remarks on how these links could be employed to do human history(les sciences historiques). But first we should consider the implicit links. I do not think it wrong or an exaggeration to say that a typical page of Renan's OrientalistHistoire générale was constructed typographically and structurally with a page of comparative philosophical anatomy, in the style of Cuvier or Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, kept in mind. Both linguists and anatomists purport to be speaking about matters not directly obtainable or observable in nature; a skeleton and a detailed line drawing of a muscle, as much as paradigms constituted by the linguists out of a purely hypothetical proto-Semitic or proto-Indo-European, are similarly products of the laboratory and of the library. The text of a linguistic or an anatomical work bears the same general relation to nature (or actuality) that a museum case exhibiting a specimen mammal or organ does. What is given on the page and in the museum case is a truncated exaggeration, like many of Sacy's Oriental extracts, whose purpose is to exhibit a relationship between the science (or scientist) and the object, not one between the object and nature. Read almost any page by Renan on Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, or proto-Semitic and you read a fact of power, by which the Orientalist philologist's authority summons out of the library at will examples of man's speech, and ranges them there surrounded by a suave European prose that points out defects, virtues, barbarisms, and shortcomings in the language, the people, and the civilization. The tone and the tense of the exhibition are cast almost uniformly in the contemporary present, so that one is given an impression of a pedagogical demonstration during which the scholar-scientist stands before us on a lecture-laboratory platform, creating, confining, and judging the material he discusses.
This anxiety on Renan's part to convey the sense of a demonstration actually taking place is heightened when he remarks explicitly that whereas anatomy employs stable and visible signs by which to consign objects to classes, linguistics does not.49 Therefore the philologist must make a given linguistic fact correspond in some way to a historical period: hence the possibility of a classification. Yet, as Renan was often to say, linguistic temporality and history are full of lacunae, enormous discontinuities, hypothetical periods. Therefore linguistic events occur in a nonlinear and essentially discontinuous temporal dimension controlled by the linguist in a very particular way. That way, as Renan's whole treatise on the Semitic branch of the Oriental languages goes very far to show, is comparative: Indo-European is taken as the living,organic norm, and Semitic Oriental languages are seen comparatively to beinorganic. 50 Time is transformed into the space of comparative classification, which at bottom is based on a rigid binary opposition between organic and inorganic languages. So on the one hand there is the organic, biologically generative process represented by Indo-European, while on the other there is an inorganic, essentially unregenerative process, ossified into Semitic: most important, Renan makes it absolutely clear that such an imperious judgment is made by the Oriental philologist in his laboratory, for distinctions of the kind he has been concerned with are neither possible nor available for anyone except the trained professional. "Nous refusons donc aux langues sémitiques la faculté de se régénérer, toute en reconnaissant qu'elles n'échappent pas plus que les autres oeuvres de la conscience humaine à la néessité du changement et des modifications successives" (Therefore we refuse to allow that the Semitic languages have the capacity to regenerate themselves, even while recognizing that they do not escape-any more than other products of human consciousness-the necessity of change or of successive modifications).51
Yet behind even this radical opposition, there is another one working in Renan's mind, and for several pages in the first chapter of book 5 he exposes his position quite candidly to the reader. This occurs when he introduces Saint-Hilaire's views on the "degradation of types."52 Although Renan does not specify which Saint-Hilaire he refers to, the reference is clear enough. For both Étienne and his son Isidore were biological speculators of extraordinary fame and influence, particularly among literary intellectuals during the first half of the nineteenth century in France. Étienne, we recall, had been a member of the Napoleonic expedition, and Balzac dedicated an important section of the preface forLa Comédie humaine to him; there is also much evidence that Flaubert read both the father and the son and used their views in his work.53 Not only were Étienne and Isidore legatees of the tradition of "Romantic" biology, which included Goethe and Cuvier, with a strong interest in analogy, homology, and organic ur-form among species, but they were also specialists in the philosophy and anatomy of monstrosity-teratology, as Isidore called it-in which the most horrendous physiological aberrations were considered a result of internal degradation within the species-life.54 I cannot here go into the intricacies (as well as the macabre fascination) of teratology, though it is enough to mention that both Etienne and Isidore exploited the theoretical power of the linguistic paradigm to explain the deviations possible within a biological system. Thus Étienne's notion was that a monster is ananomaly, in the same sense that in language words exist in analogical as well as anomalous relations with each other: in linguistics the idea is at least as old as Varro'sDe Lingua Latina. No anomaly can be considered simply as a gratuitous exception; rather anomalies confirm the regular structure binding together all members of the same class. Such a view is quite daring in anatomy. At one moment in the "Préliminaire" to hisPhilosophie anatomique É tienne says:
And, indeed, such is the character of our epoch that it becomes impossible today to enclose oneself strictly within the framework of a simple monograph. Study an object in isolation and you will only be able to bring it back to itself; consequently you can never have perfect knowledge of it. But see it in the midst of beings who are connected with each other in many different ways, and which are isolated from each other in different ways, and you will discover for this object a wider scope of relationships. First of all, you will know it better, even in its specificity: but more important, by considering it in the very center of its own sphere of activity, you will know precisely how it behaves in its own exterior world, and you will also know how its own features are constituted in reaction to its surrounding milieu.55
Not only is Saint-Hilaire saying that it is the specific character of contemporary study (he was writing in 1822) to examine phenomena comparatively; he is also saying that for the scientist there is no such thing as a phenomenon, no matter how aberrant and exceptional, that cannot be explained with reference to other phenomena. Note also how Saint-Hilaire employs the metaphor of centrality(le centre de sa sphère d'activitè) used later by Renan inL'Avenir de la science to describe the position occupied by any object in nature-including even the philologist-once the object is scientificallyplaced there by the examining scientist. Thereafter between the object and the scientist a bond of sympathy is established. Of course, this can only take place during the laboratory experience, and not elsewhere. The point being made is that a scientist has at his disposal a sort of leverage by which even the totally unusual occurrence can be seen naturally and known scientifically, which in this case means without recourse to the supernatural, and with recourse only to an enveloping environment constituted by the scientist. As a result nature itself can be reperceived as continuous, harmoniously coherent, and fundamentally intelligible.
Thus for Renan Semitic is a phenomenon of arrested development in comparison with the mature languages and cultures of the Indo-European group, and even with the other Semitic Oriental languages.56 The paradox that Renan sustains, however, is that even as he encourages us to see languages as in some way corresponding to "etres vivants de la nature," he is everywhere else proving that his Oriental languages, the Semitic languages, are inorganic, arrested, totally ossified, incapable of self-regeneration; in other words, he proves that Semitic is not a live language, and for that matter, neither are Semites live creatures. Moreover, Indo-European language and culture are alive and organicbecause of the laboratory, not despite it. But far from being a marginal issue in Renan's work, this paradox stands, I believe, at the very center of his entire work, his style, and his archival existence in the culture of his time, a culture to which-as people so unlike each other as Matthew Arnold, Oscar Wilde, James Frazer, and Marcel Proust concurred -he was a very important contributor. To be able to sustain a vision that incorporates and holds together life and quasi-living creatures (Indo-European, European culture) as well as quasimonstrous, parallel inorganic phenomena (Semitic, Oriental culture) is precisely the achievement of the European scientist in his laboratory. Heconstructs, and the very act of construction is a sign of imperial power over recalcitrant phenomena, as well as a confirmation of the dominating culture and its "naturalization." Indeed, it is not too much to say that Renan's philological laboratory is the actual locale of his European ethnocentrism; but what needs emphasis here is that the philological laboratory has no existence outside the discourse, the writing by which it is constantly produced and experienced. Thus even the culture he calls organic and alive-Europe's-is also acreature being created in the laboratory and by philology.
Renan's entire later career was European and cultural. Its accomplishments were varied and celebrated. Whatever authority his style possessed can, I think, be traced back to his technique for constructing the inorganic (or the missing) and for giving it the appearance of life. He was most famous, of course, for hisVie de Jésus, the work that inaugurated his monumental histories of Christianity and the Jewish people. Yet we must realize that theVie was exactly the same type of feat that theHistoire générale was, a construction enabled by the historian's capacity for skillfully crafting a dead (dead for Renan in the double sense of a dead faith and a lost, hence dead, historical period) Oriental biography -and the paradox is immediately apparent-as ifit were the truthful narrative of a natural life. Whatever Renan said had first passed through the philological laboratory; when it appeared in print woven through the text, there was in it the life-giving force of a contemporary cultural signature, which drew from modernity all its scientific power and all its uncritical self-approbation. For that sort of culture such genealogies as dynasty, tradition, religion, ethnic communities were all simply functions of a theory whose job was to instruct the world. In borrowing this latter phrase from Cuvier, Renan was circumspectly placing scientific demonstration over experience; temporality was relegated to the scientifically useless realm of ordinary experience, while to the special periodicity of culture and cultural comparativism (which spawned ethnocentrism, racial theory, and economic oppression) were given powers far in advance of moral vision.
Renan's style, his career as Orientalist and man of letters, the circumstances of the meaning he communicates, his peculiarly intimate relationship with the European scholarly and general culture of his time-liberal, exclusivist, imperious, antihuman except in a very conditional sense-all these are what I would callcelibate and scientific. Generation for him is consigned to the realm ofI'avenir, which in his famous manifesto he associated with science. Although as a historian of culture he belongs to the school of men like Turgot, Condorcet, Guizot, Cousin, Jouffroy, and Ballanche, and in scholarship to the school of Sacy, Caussin de Perceval, Ozanam, Fauriel, and Burnouf, Renan's is a peculiarly ravaged, ragingly masculine world of history and learning; it is indeed the world, not of fathers, mothers, and children, but of men like his Jesus, his Marcus Aurelius, his Caliban, his solar god (the last as described in "Rêves" of theDialogues philosophiques). 57 He cherished the power of science and Orientalist philology particularly; he sought its insights and its techniques; he used it to intervene, often with considerable effectiveness, in the life of his epoch. And yet his ideal role was that of spectator.
According to Renan, a philologist ought to preferbonheur tojouissance: the preference expresses a choice of elevated, if sterile, happiness over sexual pleasure. Words belong to the realm ofbonheur, as does the study of words, ideally speaking. To my knowledge, there are very few moments in all of Renan's public writing where a beneficent and instrumental role is assigned to women. One occurs when Renan opines that foreign women (nurses, maids) must have instructed the conquering Normans' children, and hence we can account for the changes that take place in language. Note how productivity and dissemination are not the functions aided, but rather internal change, and a subsidiary one at that. "Man," he says at the end of the same essay, "belongs neither to his language nor to his race; he belongs to himself before all, since before all he is a free being and a moral one."58 Man was free and moral, but enchained by race, history, and science as Renan saw them, conditions imposed by the scholar on man.
The study of Oriental languages took Renan to the heart of these conditions, and philology made it concretely apparent that knowledge of man was-to paraphrase Ernst Cassirer-poetically transfiguring59 only if it had been previously severed from raw actuality (as Sacy had necessarily severed his Arabic fragments from their actuality) and then put into a doxological straitjacket. By becomingphilology, the study of words as once practiced by Vico, Herder, Rousseau, Michelet, and Quinet lost its plot and its dramatic presentational quality, as Schelling once called it. Instead, philology became epistemologically complex;Sprachgefűhl was no longer enough since words themselves pertained less to the senses or the body (as they had for Vico) and more to a sightless, imageless, and abstract realm ruled over by such hothouse formulations as race, mind, culture, and nation. In that realm, which was discursively constructed and called the Orient, certain kinds of assertions could be made, all of them possessing the same- powerful generality and cultural validity. For all of Renan's effort was to deny Oriental culture the right to be generated, except artificially in the philological laboratory. A man was not a child of the culture; that dynastic conception had been too effectively challenged by philology. Philology taught one how culture is a construct, anarticulation (in the sense that Dickens used the word for Mr. Venus's profession inOur Mutual Friend), even a creation, but not anything more than a quasi-organic structure.
What is specially interesting in Renan is how much he knew himself to be a creature of his time and of his ethnocentric culture. On the occasion of an academic response to a speech made by Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1885, Renan averred as how "it was so sad to be a wiser man than one's nation One cannot feel bitterness towards one's homeland. Better to be mistaken along with the nation than to be too right with those who tell it hard truths."60 The economy of such a statement is almost too perfect to be true. For does not the old Renan say that the best relationship is one of parity with one's own culture, its morality, and its ethos during one's time, that and not a dynastic relation by which one is either the child of his times or their parent? And here we return to the laboratory, for it is there-as Renan thought of it-that filial and ultimately social responsibilities cease and scientific and Orientalist ones take over. His laboratory was the platform from which as an Orientalist he addressed the world; it mediated the statements he made, gave them confidence and general precision, as well as continuity. Thus the philological laboratory as Renan understood it redefined not only his epoch and his culture, dating and shaping them in new ways; it gave his Oriental subject matter a scholarly coherence, and more, it made him (and later Orientalists in his tradition) into the Occidentalcultural figure he then became. We may well wonder whether this new autonomy within the culture was the freedom Renan hoped his philological Orientalist science would bring or whether, so far as a critical historian of Orientalism is concerned, it set up a complex affiliation between Orientalism and its putative human subject matter that is based finally on power and not really on disinterested objectivity.
III- Oriental Residence and Scholarship: The Requirements of Lexicography and Imagination
Renan's views of the Oriental Semites belong, of course, less to the realm of popular prejudice and common anti- Semitism than they do to the realm of scientific Oriental philology. When we read Renan and Sacy, we readily observe the way cultural generalization had begun to acquire the armor of scientific statement and the ambience of corrective study. Like many academic specialties in their early phases, modern Orientalism held its subject matter, which it defined, in a viselike grip which it did almost everything in its power to sustain. Thus a knowing vocabulary developed, and its functions, as much as its style, located the Orient in a comparative framework, of the sort employed and manipulated by Renan. Such comparatism is rarely descriptive; most often, it is both evaluative and expository. Here is Renan comparing typically:
One sees that in all things the Semitic race appears to us to be an incomplete race, by virtue of its simplicity. This race-if I dare use the analogy-is to the Indo-European family what a pencil sketch is to painting; it lacks that variety, that amplitude, that abundance of life which is the condition of perfectibility. Like those individuals who possess so little fecundity that, after a gracious childhood, they attain only the most mediocre virility, the Semitic nations experienced their fullest flowering in their first age and have never been able to achieve true maturity.61
Indo-Europeans are the touchstone here, just as they are when Renan says that the Semitic Oriental sensibility never reached the heights attained by the Indo-Germanic races.
Whether this comparative attitude is principally a scholarly necessity or whether it is disguised ethnocentric race prejudice, we cannot say with absolute certainty. What we can say is that the two work together, in support of each other. What Renan and Sacy tried to do was to reduce the Orient to a kind of human flatness, which exposed its characteristics easily to scrutiny and removed from it its complicating humanity. In Renan's case, the legitimacy of his efforts was provided by philology, whose ideological tenets encourage the reduction of a language to its roots; thereafter, the philologist finds it possible to connect those linguistics roots, as Renan and others did, to race, mind, character, and temperament at their roots. The affinity between Renan and Gobineau, for example, was acknowledged by Renan to be a common philological and Orientalist perspective;62 in subsequent editions of theHistoire générale he incorporated some of Gobineau's work within his own. Thus did comparatism in the study of the Orient and Orientals come to be synonymous with the apparent ontological inequality of Occident and Orient.
The main traits of this inequality are worth recapitulating briefly. I have already referred to Schlegel's enthusiasm for India, and then his subsequent revulsion from it and of course from Islam. Many of the earliest Oriental amateurs began by welcoming the Orient as a salutarydérangement of their European habits of mind and spirit. The Orient was overvalued for its pantheism, its spirituality, its stability, its longevity, its primitivity, and so forth. Schelling, for example, saw in Oriental polytheism a preparation of the way for Judeo-Christian monotheism: Abraham was prefigured in Brahma. Yet almost without exception such overesteem was followed by a counterresponse: the Orient suddenly appeared lamentably underhumanized, antidemocratic, backward, barbaric, and so forth. A swing of the pendulum in one direction caused an equal and opposite swing back: the Orient was undervalued. Orientalism as a profession grew out of these opposites, of compensations and corrections based on inequality, ideas nourished by and nourishing similar ideas in the culture at large. Indeed the very project of restriction and restructuring associated with Orientalism can be traced directly to the inequality by which the Orient's comparative poverty (or wealth) besought scholarly, scientific treatment of the kind to be found in disciplines like philology, biology, history, anthropology, philosophy, or economics.
And thus the actual profession of Orientalist enshrined this inequality and the special paradoxes it engendered. Most often an individual entered the profession as a way of reckoning with the Orient's claim on him; yet most often too his Orientalist training opened his eyes, so to speak, and what he was left with was a sort of debunking project, by which the Orient was reduced to considerably less than the eminence once seen in it. How else is one to explain the enormous labors represented by the work of William Muir (1819-1905 ), for example, or of Reinhart Dozy (1820-1883 ), and the impressive antipathy in that work to the Orient, Islam, and the Arabs? Characteristically, Renan was one of Dozy's supporters, just as in Dozy's four-volumeHistoire des Mussulmans d'Espagne, jusqu à la conquête de 1'Andalousie par les Almoravides (1861) there appear many of Renan's anti-Semitic strictures, compounded in 1864 by a volume arguing that the Jews' primitive God was not Jahweh but Baal, proof for which was to be found in Mecca, of all places. Muir'sLife of Mahomet (1858-1861) and hisThe Caliphate, Its Rise, Decline and Fall (1891) are still considered reliable monuments of scholarship, yet his attitude towards his subject matter was fairly put by him when he slid that "the sword of Muhammed, and the Kor'ān, are the most stubborn enemies of Civilisation, Liberty, and the Truth which the world has yet known."63 Many of the same notions are to be found in the work of Alfred Lyall, who was one of the authors cited approvingly by Cromer.
Even if the Orientalist does not explicitly judge his material as Dozy and Muir did, the principle of inequality exerts its influence nevertheless. It remains the professional Orientalist's job to piece together a portrait, a restored picture as it were, of the Orient or the Oriental; fragments, such as those unearthed by Sacy, supply the material, but the narrative shape, continuity, and figures are constructed by the scholar, for whom scholarship consists of circumventing the unruly (un-Occidental) nonhistory of the Orient with orderly chronicle, portraits, and plots. Caussin de Perceval'sEssai sur l'histoire des Arabes avant l'Islamisme, pendant l'époque de Mahomet (three volumes, 1847-1848) is a wholly professional study, depending for its sources on documents made availableinternally to the field by other Orientalists (principally Sacy, of course) or documents-like the texts of ibn-Khaldun, upon whom Caussin relied very heavily-reposing in Orientalist libraries in Europe. Caussin's thesis is that the Arabs were made a people by Mohammed, Islam being essentially a political instrument, not by any means a spiritual one. What Caussin strives for is clarity amidst a huge mass of confusing detail. Thus what emerges out of the study of Islam is quite literally a one-dimensional portrait of Mohammed, who is made to appear at the end of the work (after his death has been described) in precise photographic detail.64 Neither a demon, nor a prototype of Cagliostro, Caussin's Mohammed is a man appropriated to a history of Islam (the fittest version of it) as an exclusively political movement, centralized by the innumerable citations that thrust him up and, in a sense, out of the text. Caussin's intention was to leave nothing unsaid about Mohammed; the Prophet is thereby seen in a cold light, stripped both of his immense religious force and of any residual powers to frighten Europeans. The point here is that as a figure for his own time and place Mohammed is effaced, in order for a very slight human miniature of him to be left standing.
A nonprofessional analogue to Caussin's Mohammed is Carlyle's, a Mohammed forced to serve a thesis totally overlooking the historical and cultural circumstances of the Prophet's own time and place. Although Carlyle quotes Sacy, his essay is clearly the product of someone arguing for some general ideas on sincerity, heroism, and prophethood. His attitude is salutary: Mohammed is no legend, no shameful sensualist, no laughable petty sorcerer who trained pigeons to pick peas out of his ear. Rather he is a man of real vision and self-conviction, albeit an author of a book, the Koran, that is "a wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement; most crude, incondite-insupportable stupidity, in short."65 Not a paragon of lucidity and stylistic grace himself, Carlyle asserts these things as a way of rescuing Mohammed from the Benthamite standards that would have condemned both Mohammed and him together. Yet Mohammed is a hero, transplanted into Europe out of the same barbaric Orient found wanting by Lord Macaulay in his famous "Minute" of 1835, in which it was asserted that "our native subjects" have more to learn from us than we do from them.66
Both Caussin and Carlyle, in other words, show us that the Orient need not cause us undue anxiety, so unequal are Oriental to European achievements. The Orientalist and non-Orientalist perspectives coincide here. For within the comparative field that Orientalism became after the philological revolution of the early nineteenth century, and outside it, either in popular stereotypes or in the figures made of the Orient by philosophers like Carlyle and stereotypes like those of Macaulay, the Orient in itself was subordinated intellectually to the West. As material for study or reflection the Orient acquired all the marks of an inherent weakness. It became subject to the vagaries of miscellaneous theories that used it for illustration. Cardinal Newman, no great Orientalist, used Oriental Islam as the basis of lectures in 1853 justifying British intervention in the Crimean War.67 Cuvier found the Orient useful for his workLe Règne animal (1816). The Orient was usefully employed as conversation in the various salons of Paris.68 The list of references, borrowings, and transformations that overtook the Oriental idea is immense, but at bottom what the early Orientalist achieved, and what the non-Orientalist in the West exploited, was a reduced model of the Orient suitable for the prevailing, dominant culture and its theoretical (and hard after the theoretical, the practical) exigencies. Occasionally one comes across exceptions, or if not exceptions then interesting complications, to this unequal partnership between East and West. Karl Marx identified the notion of an Asiatic economic system in his 1853 analyses of British rule in India, and then put beside that immediately the human depredation introduced into this system by English colonial interference, rapacity, and outright cruelty. In article after article he returned with increasing conviction to the idea that even in destroying Asia, Britain was making possible there a real social revolution. Marx's style pushes us right up against the difficulty of reconciling our natural repugnance as fellow creatures to the sufferings of Orientals while their society is being violently transformed with the historical necessity of these transformations.
Now, sickening as it must be to human feeling to witness those myriads of industrious patriarchal and inoffensive social organizations disorganized and dissolved into their units, thrown into a sea of woes, and their individual members losing at the same time their ancient form of civilization and their hereditary means of subsistence, we must not forget that these idyllic village communities, inoffensive though they may appear, had always been the solid foundation of Oriental despotism, that they restrained the human mind within the smallest possible compass, making it the unresisting tool of superstition, enslaving it beneath the traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur and historical energies ....
England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindustan was actuated only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them. But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution.
Then, whatever bitterness the spectacle of the crumbling of an ancient world may have for our personal feelings, we have the right, in point of history, to exclaim with Goethe:
Sollte these Qual uns qualen
Da she unsere Lust vermehrt
Hat nicht Myriaden Seelen
Timurs Herrschaft aufgeziehrt?69
(Should this torture then torment us
Since it brings us greater pleasure?
Were not through the rule of Timur
Souls devoured without measure?)
The quotation, which supports Marx's argument about torment producing pleasure, comes from theWestőstlicher Diwan and identifies the sources of Marx's conceptions about the Orient. These are Romantic and even messianic: as human material the Orient is less important than as an element in a Romantic redemptive project. Marx's economic analyses are perfectly fitted thus to a standard Orientalist undertaking, even though Marx's humanity, his sympathy for the misery of people, are clearly engaged. Yet in the end it is the Romantic Orientalist vision that wins out, as Marx's theoretical socio-economic views become submerged in this classically standard image:
England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating-the annihilation of the Asiatic society, and the laying of the material foundations of Western society in Asia.70
The idea of regenerating a fundamentally lifeless Asia is a piece of pure Romantic Orientalism, of course, but coming from the same writer who could not easily forget the human suffering involved, the statement is puzzling. It requires us first to ask how Marx's moral equation of Asiatic loss with the British colonial rule he condemned gets skewed back towards the old inequality between East and West we have so far remarked. Second, it requires us to ask where the human sympathy has gone, into what realm of thought it has disappeared while the Orientalist vision takes its place.
We are immediately brought back to the realization that Orientalists, like many other early-nineteenth-century thinkers, conceive of humanity either in large collective terms or in abstract generalities. Orientalists are neither interested in nor capable of discussing individuals; instead artificial entities, perhaps with their
roots in Herderian populism, predominate. There are Orientals, Asiatics, Semites, Muslims, Arabs, Jews, races, mentalities, nations, and the like, some of them the product of learned operations of the type found in Renan's work. Similarly, the age-old distinction between "Europe" and "Asia" or "Occident" and "Orient" herds beneath very wide labels every possible variety of human plurality, reducing it in the process to one or two terminal, collective abstractions. Marx is no exception. The collective Orient was easier for him to use in illustration of a theory than existential human identities. For between Orient and Occident, as if in a self-fulfilling proclamation, only the vast anonymous collectivity mattered, or existed. No other type of exchange, severely constrained though it may have been, was at hand.
That Marx was still able to sense some fellow feeling, to identify even a little with poor Asia, suggests that something happened before the labels took over, before he was dispatched to Goethe as a source of wisdom on the Orient. It is as if the individual mind (Marx's, in this case) could find a precollective, preofficial individuality in Asia-find and give in to its pressures upon his emotions, feelings, senses-only to give it up when he confronted a more formidable censor in the very vocabulary he found himself forced to employ. What that censor did was to stop and then chase away the sympathy, and this was accompanied by a lapidary definition: Those people, it said, don't suffer-they are Orientals and hence have to be treated in other ways than the ones you've just been using. A wash of sentiment therefore disappeared as it encountered the unshakable definitions built up by Orientalist science, supported by "Oriental" lore (e.g., the Diwan) supposed to be appropriate for it. The vocabulary of emotion dissipated as it submitted to the lexicographical police action of Orientalist science and even Orientalist art. An experience was dislodged by a dictionary definition: one can almost see that happen in Marx's Indian essays, where what finally occurs is that something forces him to scurry back to Goethe, there to stand in his protective Orientalized Orient.
In part, of course, Marx was concerned with vindicating his own theses on socio-economic revolution; but in part also he seems to have had easy resource to a massed body of writing, both internally consolidated by Orientalism and put forward by it beyond the field, that controlled any statement made about the Orient. In Chapter One I tried to show how this control had had a general cultural history in Europe since antiquity; in this chapter my concern has been to show how in the nineteenth century a modern professional terminology and practice were created whose existence dominated discourse about the Orient, whether by Orientalists or non-Orientalists. Sacy and Renan were instances of the way Orientalism fashioned, respectively, a body of texts and a philologically rooted process by which the Orient took on a discursive identity that made it unequal with the West. In using Marx as the case by which a non-Orientalist's human engagements were first dissolved,then usurped by Orientalist generalizations, we find ourselves having to consider the process of lexicographical and institutional consolidation peculiar to Orientalism. What was this operation, by which whenever you discussed the Orient a formidable mechanism of omnicompetent definitions would present itself as the only one having suitable validity for your discussion? And since we must also show how this mechanism operated specifically (and effectively) upon personal human experiences that otherwise contradicted it, we must also show wherethey went and what formsthey took, while they lasted.
All this is a very difficult and complex operation to describe, at least as difficult and complex as the way any growing discipline crowds out its competitors and acquires authority for its traditions, methods, and institutions, as well as general cultural legitimacy for its statements, personalities, and agencies. But we can simplify a great deal of the sheer narrative complexity of the operation by specifying the kinds of experiences that Orientalism typically employed for its own ends and represented for its wider-than-professional audience. In essence these experiences continue the ones I described as having taken place in Sacy and Renan. But whereas those two scholars represent a wholly bookish Orientalism, since neither claimed any particular expertise with the Orientin situ, there is another tradition that claimed its legitimacy from the peculiarly compelling fact of residence in, actual existential contact with, the Orient. Anquetil, Jones, the Napoleonic expedition define the tradition's earliest contours, of course, and these will thereafter retain an unshakable influence on all Orientalist residents. These contours are the ones of European power: to reside in the Orient is to live the privileged life, not of an ordinary citizen, but of a representative European whose empire (French or British)contains the Orient in its military, economic, and above all, cultural arms.Oriental residence, and its scholarly fruits, are thereby fed into the bookish tradition of the textual attitudes we found in Renan and Sacy: together the two experiences will constitute a formidable library against which no one, not even Marx, can rebel and which no one can avoid.
Residence in the Orient involves personal experience and personal testimony to a certain extent. Contributions to the library of Orientalism and to its consolidation depend on how experience and testimony get converted from a purely personal document into the enabling codes of Orientalist science. In other words, within a text there has to take place a metamorphosis from personal to official statement; the record of Oriental residence and experience by a European must shed, or at least minimize, its purely autobiographical and indulgent descriptions in favor of descriptions on which Orientalism in general and later Orientalists in particular can draw, build, and base further scientific observation and description. So one of the things we can watch for is a more explicit conversion than in Marx of personal sentiments about the Orient into official Orientalist statements.
Now the situation is enriched and complicated by the fact that during the entire nineteenth century the Orient, and especially the Near Orient, was a favorite place for Europeans to travel in and write about. Moreover, there developed a fairly large body of Oriental-style European literature very frequently based on personal experiences in the Orient. Flaubert comes to mind immediately as one prominent source of such literature; Disraeli, Mark Twain, and Kinglake are three other obvious examples. But what is of interest is the difference between writing that is converted from personal to professional Orientalism, and the second type, also based on residence and personal testimony, which remains "literature" and not science: it is this difference that I now want to explore.
To be a European in the Orient always involves being a consciousness set apart from, and unequal with, its surroundings. But the main thing to note is the intention of this consciousness: What is it in the Orient for? Why does it set itself there even if, as is the case with writers like Scott, Hugo, and Goethe, it travels to the Orient for a very concrete sort of experience without actually leaving Europe? A small number of intentional categories proposed themselves schematically. One: the writer who intends to use his residence for the specific task of providing professional Orientalism with scientific material, who considers his residence a form of scientific observation. Two: the writer who intends the same purpose but is less willing to sacrifice the eccentricity and style of his individual consciousness to impersonal Orientalist definitions. These latter do appear in his work, but they are disentangled from the personal vagaries of style only with difficulty. Three: the writer for whom a real or metaphorical trip to the Orient is the fulfillment of some deeply felt and urgent project. His text therefore is built on a personal aesthetic, fed and informed by the project. In categories two and three there is considerably more space than in one for the play of a personal-or at least non-Orientalist-consciousness; if we take Edward William Lane'sManners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians as the pre-eminent example of category one, Burton'sPilgrimage to al-Madinah and Meccah as belonging to category two, and Nerval'sVoyage en Orient as representing category three, the relative spaces left in the text for the exercise and display of authorial presence will be clear.
Despite their differences, however, these three categories are not so separate from each other as one would imagine. Nor does each category contain "pure" representative types. For example, works in all three categories rely upon the sheer egoistic powers of the European consciousness at their center. In all cases the Orient isfor the European observer, and what is more, in the category that contains Lane'sEgyptians, the Orientalist ego is very much in evidence, however much his style tries for impartial impersonality. Moreover, certain motifs recur consistently in all three types. The Orient as a place of pilgrimage is one; so too is the vision of Orient as spectacle, ortableau vivant. Every work on the Orient in these categories tries to characterize the place, of course, but what is of greater interest is the extent to which the work's internal structure is in some measure synonymous with a comprehensiveinterpretation (or an attempt at it) of the Orient. Most of the time, not surprisingly, this interpretation is a form of Romantic restructuring of the Orient, a re-vision of it, which restores it redemptively to the present. Every interpretation, every structure created for the Orient, then, is a reinterpretation, a rebuilding of it.
Having said that,we return directly to differences between the categories. Lane's book on the Egyptians was influential, it was frequently read and cited (by Flaubert among others), and it established its author's reputation as an eminent figure in Orientalist scholarship. In other words, Lane's authority was gained, not by virtue simply of what he said, but by virtue of how what he said could be adapted to Orientalism. He is quoted as a source of knowledge about Egypt or Arabia, whereas Burton or Flaubert were and are read for what they tell us about Burton and Flaubert over and above their knowledge of the Orient. The author-function in Lane'sModern Egyptians is less strong than in the other categories because his work was disseminated into the profession, consolidated by it, institutionalized with it. The authorial identity in a work of professional discipline such as his is subordinated to the demands of the field, as well as to the demands of the subject matter. But this is not done simply, or without raising problems.
Lane's classic,An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), was the self-conscious result of a series of works and of two periods of residence in Egypt (1825-1828 and 1833-1835). One uses the phrase "self-conscious" with some emphasis here because the impression Lane wished to give was that his study was a work of immediate and direct, unadorned and neutral, description, whereas in fact it was the product of considerable editing (the work he wrote was not the one he finally published) and also of a considerable variety of quite special efforts. Nothing in his birth or background seemed to destine him for the Orient, except his methodical studiousness and his capacity for classical studies and for mathematics, which somewhat explain the apparent internal neatness of his book. His preface offers a series of interesting clues about what it was that he did for the book. He went to Egypt originally to study Arabic. Then, after making some notes about modern Egypt, he was encouraged to produce a systematic work on the country and its inhabitants by a committee of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. From being a random set of observations the work was changed into a document of useful knowledge, knowledge arranged for and readily accessible to anyone wishing to know the essentials of a foreign society. The preface makes it clear that such knowledge must somehow dispose of pre-existing knowledge, as well as claim for itself a particularly effective character: here Lane is the subtle polemicist. He must show initially that he did what others before him either could not or did not do, and then, that he was able to acquire information both authentic and perfectly correct. And thus his peculiar authority begins to emerge.
While Lane dallies in his preface with a Dr. Russell's "account of the people of Aleppo" (a forgotten work), it is obvious that theDescription de I'Égypte is his main antecedent competition. But that work, confined by Lane to a long footnote, is mentioned in contemptuous quotation marks as "the great French work" on Egypt.
That work was at once too philosophically general and too careless, Lane says; and Jacob Burckhardt's famous study was merely a collection of proverbial Egyptian wisdom, "bad tests of the morality of a people." Unlike the French and Burckhardt, Lane was able to submerge himself amongst the natives, to live as they did, to conform to their habits, and "to escape exciting, in strangers, any suspicion of ...being a person who had no right to intrude among them." Lest that imply Lane's having lost his objectivity, he goes on to say that he conformed only to the words (his italics) of the Koran, and that he was always aware of his difference from an essentially alien culture.71 Thus while one portion of Lane's identity floats easily in the unsuspecting Muslim sea, a submerged part retains its secret European power, to comment on, acquire, possess everything around it.
The Orientalist can imitate the Orient without the opposite being true. What he says about the Orient is therefore to be understood as description obtained in a one-way exchange: asthey spoke and behaved,he observed and wrote down. His power was to have existed amongst them as a native speaker, as it were, and also as a secret writer. And what he wrote was intended as useful knowledge, not for them, but for Europe and its various disseminative institutions. For that is one thing that Lane's prose never lets us forget: that ego, the first-person pronoun moving through Egyptian customs, rituals, festivals, infancy, adulthood, and burial rites, is in reality both an Oriental masquerade and an Orientalist device for capturing and conveying valuable, otherwise inaccessible information. As narrator, Lane is both exhibit and exhibitor, winning two confidences at once, displaying two appetites for experience: the Oriental one for engaging companionship (or so it seems) and the Western one for authoritative, useful knowledge.
Nothing illustrates this better than the last tripartite episode in the preface. Lane there describes his principal informant and friend, Sheikh Ahmed, as companion and as curiosity. Together the two pretend that Lane is a Muslim; yet only after Ahmed conquers his fear, inspired by Lane's audacious mimicry, can he go through the motions of praying by his side in a mosque. This final achievement is preceded by two scenes in which Ahmed is portrayed as a bizarre glass-eater and a polygamist. 1n all three portions of the Sheikh Ahmed episode the distance between the Muslim and Lane increases, even as in the action itself it decreases. As mediator and translator, so to speak, of Muslim behavior,Lane ironically enters the Muslim pattern only far enough to be able to describe it in a sedate English prose. His identity as counterfeit believer and privileged European is the very essence of bad faith, for the latter undercuts the former in no uncertain way. Thus what seems to be factual reporting of whatone rather peculiar Muslim does is made to appear by Lane as the candidly exposed center ofall Muslim faith. No mind is given by Lane to the betrayal of his friendship with Ahmed or with the others who provide him with information.What matters is that the report seem accurate, general, and dispassionate, that the English reader be convinced that Lane was never infected with heresy or apostasy, and finally, that Lane's text cancel the human content of its subject matter in favor of its scientific validity.
It is for all these ends that the book is organized, not simply as the narrative of Lane's residence in Egypt but as narrative structure overwhelmed by Orientalist restructuring and detail. This, I think, is the central achievement of Lane's work. In outline and shapeModern Egyptians follows the routine of an eighteenth-century novel, say one by Fielding. The book opens with an account of country and setting, followed by chapters on 'Personal Characteristics" and "Infancy and Early Education." Twenty-five chapters on such things as festivals, laws, character, industry, magic, and domestic life precede the last section, "Death and Funeral Rites." On the face of it, Lane's argument is chronological and developmental. He writes about himself as the observer of scenes that follow the major divisions in the human lifetime: his model is the narrative pattern, as it is inTom Jones with the hero's birth, adventures, marriage, and implied death. Only in Lane's text the narrative voice is ageless; his subject, however, the modern Egyptian, goes through the individual life-cycle. This reversal, by which a solitary individual endows himself with timeless faculties and imposes on a society and people a personal life-span, is but the first of several operations regulating what might have been the mere narration of travels in foreign parts, turning an artless text into an encyclopedia of exotic display and a playground for Orientalist scrutiny.
Lane's control of his material is not only established through his dramatized double presence (as fake Muslim and genuine Westerner) and his manipulation of narrative voice and subject, but also through his use of detail. Each major section in each chapter is invariably introduced with some unsurprising general observation. For example, "it is generally observed that many of the most remarkable peculiarities in the manners, customs, and character of a nation are attributable to the physical peculiarities of the country."72 What follows confirms this easily-the Nile, Egypt's "remarkably salubrious" climate, the peasant's "precise" labor. Yet instead of this leading to the next episode in narrative order, the detail is added to, and consequently the narrative fulfillment expected on purely formal grounds is not given. In other words, although the gross outlines of Lane's text conform to the narrative and causal sequence of birth-life-death, the special detail introduced during the sequence itself foils narrative movement. From a general observation, to a delineation of some aspect of Egyptian character, to an account of Egyptian childhood, adolescence, maturity, and senescence, Lane is always there with great detail toprevent smooth transitions. Shortly after we hear about Egypt's salubrious climate, for instance, we are informed that few Egyptians live beyond a few years, because of fatal illness, the absence of medical aid, and oppressive summer weather. Thereafter we are told that the heat "excites the Egyptian [an unqualified generalization] to intemperance in sensual enjoyments," and soon are bogged down in descriptions, complete with charts and line drawings, of Cairene architecture, decoration, fountains, and locks.When a narrative strain re-emerges, it is clearly only as a formality.
What prevents narrative order, at the very same time that narrative order is the dominating fiction of Lane's text, is sheer, overpowering, monumental description. Lane's objective is to make Egypt and the Egyptians totally visible, to keep nothing hidden from his reader, to deliver the Egyptians without depth, in swollen detail. As rapporteur his propensity is for sadomasochistic colossal tidbits: the self-multilation of dervishes, the cruelty of judges, the blending of religion with licentiousness among Muslims, the excess of libidinous passions, and so on. Yet no matter how odd and perverse the event and how lost we become in its dizzying detail, Lane is ubiquitous, his job being to reassemble the pieces and enable us to move on, albeit jerkily. To a certain extent he does this by just being a European who can discursively control the passions and excitements to which the Muslims are unhappily subject. But to an even greater extent, Lane's capacity to rein in his profuse subject matter with an unyielding bridle of discipline and detachment depends on his cold distance from Egyptian life and Egyptian productivity.
The main symbolic moment occurs at the beginning of chapter 6, "Domestic Life-Continued." By now Lane has adopted the narrative convention of taking a walk through Egyptian life, and having reached the end of his tour of the public rooms and habits of an Egyptian household (the social and spatial worlds are mixed together by him), he begins to discuss the intimate side of home life. Immediately, he "must give some account of marriage and the marriage-ceremonies." As usual, the account begins with a general observation: to abstain from marriage "when a man has attained a sufficient age, and when there is no just impediment, is esteemed by the Egyptians improper, and even disreputable." Without transition this observation is applied by Lane to himself, and he is found guilty. For one long paragraph he then recounts the pressures placed on him to get married, which he unflinchingly refuses. Finally, after a native friend even offers to arrange amariage de convenance, also refused by Lane, the whole sequence is abruptly terminated with a period and a dash.63 He resumes his general discussion with another general observation.
Not only do we have here a typical Lane-esque interruption of the main narrative with untidy detail, we have also a firm and literal disengagement of the author from the productive processes of Oriental society. The mini-narrative of his refusal to join the society he describes concludes with a dramatic hiatus: his story cannot continue, he seems to be saying, so long as he does not enter the intimacy of domestic life, and so he drops from sight as a candidate for it. He literally abolishes himself as a human subject by refusing to marry into human society. Thus he preserves his authoritative identity as a mock participant and bolsters the objectivity of his narrative. If we already knew that Lane was a non-Muslim, we now know too that in order for him to become an Orientalist-instead of an Oriental-he had to deny himself the sensual enjoyments of domestic life. Moreover, he had also to avoid dating himself by entering the human life-cycle. Only in this negative way could he retain his timeless authority as observer.
Lane's choice was between living without "inconvenience and discomfort" and accomplishing his study of the modern Egyptians. The result of his choice is plainly to have made possible his definition of the Egyptians, since had he become one of them, his perspective would no longer have been antiseptically and asexually lexicographical. In two important and urgent ways, therefore, Lane gains scholarly credibility and legitimacy. First, by interfering with the ordinary narrative course of human life: this is the function of his colossal detail, in which the observing intelligence of a foreigner can introduce and then piece together massive information. The Egyptians are disemboweled for exposition, so to speak, then put together admonishingly by Lane. Second, by disengaging from the generation of Egyptian-Oriental life: this is the function of his subduing his animal appetite in the interest of disseminating information, not in and for Egypt, but in and for European learning at large. To have achieved both the imposition of a scholarly will upon an untidy reality and an intentional shift away from the place of his residence to the scene of his scholarly reputation is the source of his great fame in the annals of Orientalism. Useful knowledge such as his could only have been obtained, formulated, and diffused by such denials.
Lane's two other major works, his never-completed Arabic lexicon and his uninspired translation of theArabian Nights, consolidated the system of knowledge inaugurated byModern Egyptians. In both of his later works his individuality has disappeared entirely as a creative presence, as of course has the very idea of a narrative work. Lane the man appears only in the official persona of annotator and retranslator (theNights) and impersonal lexicographer. From being an author contemporary with his subject matter, Lane became as Orientalist scholar of classical Arabic and classical Islam-its survivor. But it is the form of that survival which is of interest. For Lane's legacy as a scholar mattered not to the Orient, of course, but to the institutions and agencies of his European society. And these were either academic-the official Orientalist societies, institutions, and agencies-or they were extraacademic in very particular ways, figuring in the work of later Europeans resident in the Orient.
If we read Lane'sModern Egyptians, not as a source of Oriental lore, but as a work directed towards the growing organization of academic Orientalism, we will find it illuminating. The subordination of genetic ego to scholarly authority in Lane corresponds exactly to the increased specialization and institutionalization of knowledge about the Orient represented by the various Oriental societies. The Royal Asiatic Society was founded a decade before Lane's book appeared, but its committee of correspondence-whose "objects were to receive intelligence and inquiries relating to the arts, sciences, literature, history and antiquities" of the Orient74 --- the structural recipient of Lane's fund of information, processed and formulated as it was. As for the diffusion of such work as Lane's, there were not only the various societies of useful knowledge but also, in an age when the original Orientalist program of aiding commerce and trade with the Orient had become exhausted, the specialized learned societies whose products were works displaying the potential (if not actual) values of disinterested scholarship. Thus, a program of the Societe asiatique states:
To compose or to print grammars, dictionaries, and other elementary books recognized as useful or indispensable for the study of those languages taught by appointed professors [of Oriental languages]; by subscriptions or by other means to contribute to the publication of the same kind of work undertaken in France or abroad; to acquire manuscripts, or to copy either completely or in part those that are to be found in Europe, to translate or to make extracts from them, to multiply their number by reproducing them either by engraving or by lithography; to make it possible for the authors of useful works on geography, history, the arts, and the sciences to acquire the means for the public to enjoy the fruits of their nocturnal labors; to draw the attention of the public, by means of a periodic collection devoted to Asiatic literature, to the scientific, literary, or poetic productions of the Orient and those of the same sort that regularly are produced in Europe, to those facts about the Orient that could be relevant to Europe, to those discoveries and works of all kinds of which the Oriental peoples could become the subject: these are the objectives proposed for and by the Societe asiatique.
Orientalism organized itself systematically as the acquisition of Oriental material and its regulated dissemination as a form of specialized knowledge. One copied and printed works of grammar, one acquired original texts, one multiplied their number and diffused them widely, even dispensed knowledge in periodic form. It was into and for this system that Lane wrote his work, and sacrificed his ego. The mode in which his work persisted in the archives of Orientalism was provided for also. There was to be a "museum," Sacy said,
a vast depot of objects of all kinds, of drawings, of original books, maps, accounts of voyages, all offered to those who wish to give themselves to the study of [the Orient]; in such a way that each of these students would be able to feel himself transported as if by enchantment into the midst of, say, a Mongolian tribe or of the Chinese race, whichever he might have made the object of his studies.... It is possible to say ...that after the publication of elementary books on ...the Oriental languages, nothing is more important than to lay the cornerstone of this museum, which I consider a living commentary upon and interpretation[truchement] of the dictionaries.75
Truchement derives nicely from the Arabicturjaman, meaning "interpreter," "intermediary," or "spokesman." On the one hand, Orientalism acquired the Orient as literally and as widely as possible; on the other, it domesticated this knowledge to the West, filtering it through regulatory codes, classifications, specimen cases, periodical reviews, dictionaries, grammars, commentaries, editions, translations, all of which together formed a simulacrum of the Orient and reproduced it materially in the West, for the West. The Orient, in short, would be converted from the personal, sometimes garbled testimony of intrepid voyagers and residents into impersonal definition by a whole array of scientific workers. It would be converted from the consecutive experience of individual research into a sort of imaginary museum without walls, where everything gathered from the huge distances and varieties of Oriental culture became categoricallyOriental. It would be reconverted, restructured from the bundle of fragments brought back piecemeal by explorers, expeditions, commissions, armies, and merchants into lexicographical, bibliographical, departmentalized, andtextualized Orientalist sense. By the middle of the nineteenth century the Orient had become, as Disraeli said, a career, one in which one could remake and restore not only the Orient but also oneself.
IV- Pilgrims and Pilgrimages, British and French
Every European traveler or resident in the Orient has had to protect himself from its unsettling influences. Someone like Lane ultimately rescheduled and resituated the Orient when he came to write about it. The eccentricities of Oriental life, with its odd calendars, its exotic spatial configurations, its hopelessly strange languages, its seemingly perverse morality, were reduced considerably when they appeared as a series of detailed items presented in a normative European prose style. It is correct to say that in Orientalizing the Orient, Lane not only defined but edited it; he excised from it what, in addition to his own human sympathies, might have ruffled the European sensibility. In most cases, the Orient seemed to have offended sexual propriety; everything about the Orient-or at least Lane's Orient-in-Egypt-exuded dangerous sex, threatened hygiene and domestic seemliness with an excessive "freedom of intercourse," as Lane put it more irrepressibly than usual.
But there were other sorts of threats than sex. All of them wore away the European discreteness and rationality of time, space, and personal identity. In the Orient one suddenly confronted unimaginable antiquity, inhuman beauty, boundless distance. These could be put to use more innocently, as it were, if they were thought and written about, not directly experienced. In Byron's "Giaour," in theWestöstlicher Diwan, in Hugo'sOrientales, the Orient is a form of release, a place of original opportunity, whose keynote was struck in Goethe's "Hegire"
Nord and West Siid zersplittern,
Throne bersten, Reiche zittern,
Fluchte du, in reinen Osten
Patriarchenluft zu kosten!
(North, West, and South disintegrate,
Thrones burst, empires tremble.
Fly away, and in the pure East
Taste the Patriarchs' air.)
One alwaysreturned to the Orient "Dort, im Reinen and in Rechten/Will ich menschlichen Geschlechten/In des Ursprungs Tiefe dringen" (There in purity and righteousness will I go back to the profound origins of the human race) seeing it as completion and confirmation of everything one had imagined:
Gottes ist der Orient!
Gottes ist der Okzident!
Nord and sudliches Gelande
Ruht im Frieden seiner Hände.76
God is the Orient!
God is the Occident!
Northern and southern lands
Repose in the peace of His hands.)
The Orient, with its poetry, its atmosphere, its possibilities, was represented by poets likeHafiz-unbegrenzt, boundless, Goethe said, older and younger than we Europeans. And for Hugo, in "Cri de guerre du mufti" and "La Douleur du pacha"77 the fierceness and the inordinate melancholy of Orientals was mediated, not by actual fear for life or disoriented lostness, but by Volney and George Sale, Whose learned work translated barbarous splendor into usable information for the sublimely talented poet.
What Orientalists like Lane, Sacy, Renan, Volney, Jones (not to mention theDescription de l'Égypte), and other pioneers made available, the literary crowd exploited. We must recall now our earlier discussion of the three types of work dealing with the Orient and based upon actual residence there. The rigorous exigencies of knowledge purged from Orientalist writing an authorial sensibility: hence Lane's self-excision, and hence also the first kind of work we enumerated. As for types two and three, the self is there prominently, subservient to a voice whose job it is to dispense real knowledge (type two), or dominating and mediating everything we are told about the Orient (type three). Yet from one end of the nineteenth century to the other-after Napoleon, that is-the Orient was a place of pilgrimage, and every major work belonging to a genuine if not always to an academic Orientalism took its form, style, and intention from the idea of pilgrimage there. In this idea as in so many of the other forms of Orientalist writing we have been discussing, the Romantic idea of restorative reconstruction (natural supernaturalism) is the principal source.
Every pilgrim sees things his own way, but there are limits to what a pilgrimage can be for, to what shape and form it can take, to what truths it reveals. All pilgrimages to the Orient passed through, or had to pass through, the Biblical lands; most of them in fact were attempts either to relive or to liberate from the large, incredibly fecund Orient some portion of Judeo-Christian/Greco-Roman actuality. For these pilgrims the Orientalized Orient, the Orient of Orientalist scholars, was a gauntlet to be run, just as the Bible, the Crusades, Islam, Napoleon, and Alexander were redoubtable predecessors to be reckoned with. Not only does a learned Orient inhibit the pilgrim's musings and private fantasies; its very antecedence places barriers between the contemporary traveler and his writing, unless, as was the case with Nerval and Flaubert in their use of Lane, Orientalist work is severed from the library and caught in the aesthetic project. Another inhibition is that Orientalist writing is too circumscribed by the official requirements of Orientalist learning. A pilgrim like Chateaubriand claimed insolently that he undertook his voyages exclusively for his own sake: "j'allais chercher des images: voilà tout."78 Flaubert, Vigny, Nerval, Kinglake, Disraeli, Burton, all undertook their pilgrimages in order to dispel the mustiness of the pre-existing Orientalist archive.Their writing was to be a fresh new repository of Oriental experience but, as we shall see, even this project usually (but not always) resolved itself into the reductionism of the Orientalistic. The reasons are complex, and they have very much to do with the nature of the pilgrim, his mode of writing, and the intentional form of his work.
What was the Orient for the individual traveler in the nineteenth century? Consider first the differences between an English speaker and a French speaker. For the former the Orient was India, of course, an actual British possession; to pass through the Near Orient was therefore to pass en route to a major colony. Already, then, the room available for imaginative play was limited by the realities of administration, territorial legality, and executive power. Scott, Kinglake, Disraeli, Warburton, Burton, and even George Eliot (in whoseDaniel Deronda the Orient has plans made for it) are writers, like Lane himself and Jones before him, for whom the Orient was defined by material possession, by a material imagination, as it were. England had defeated Napoleon, evicted France: what the English mind surveyed was an imperial domain which by the 1880s had become an unbroken patch of British-held territory, from the Mediterranean to India. To write about Egypt, Syria, or Turkey, as much as traveling in them, was a matter of touring the realm of political will, political management, political definition. The territorial imperative was extremely compelling, even for so unrestrained a writer as Disraeli, whoseTancred is not merely an Oriental lark but an exercise in the astute political management of actual forces on actual territories.
In contrast, the French pilgrim was imbued with a sense of acute loss in the Orient. He came there to a place in which France, unlike Britain, had no sovereign presence. The Mediterranean echoed with the sounds of French defeats, from the Crusades to Napoleon. What was to become known as "la mission civilisatrice" began in the nineteenth century as a political second best to Britain's presence. Consequently French pilgrims from Volney on planned and projected for, imagined, ruminated about places that were principallyin their minds; they constructed schemes for a typically French, perhaps even a European, concert in the Orient, which of course they supposed would be orchestrated by them. Theirs was the Orient of memories, suggestive ruins, forgotten secrets, hidden correspondences, and an almost virtuosic style of being, an Orient whose highest literary forms would be found in Nerval and Flaubert, both of whose work was solidly fixed in an imaginative, unrealizable (except aesthetically) dimension.
This was also true to a certain extent of scholarly French travelers in the Orient. Most of them were interested in the Biblical past or in the Crusades, as Henri Bordeaux has argued in hisVoyageurs d'Orient. 79 To these names we must add (at Hassan al-Nouty's suggestion) the names of Oriental Semiticists, including Quatrembre; Saulcy, the explorer of the Dead Sea; Renan as Phoenician archaeologist; Judas, the student of Phoenician languages; Catafago and Defremery, who studied the Ansarians, Ismailis, and Seljuks; Clermont-Ganneau, who explored Judea; and the Marquis de Vogue, whose work centered on Palmyrian epigraphy. In addition there was the whole school of Egyptologists descended from Champollion and Mariette, a school that would later include Maspero and Legrain. As an index of the difference between British realities and French fantasies, it is worthwhile recalling the words in Cairo of the painter Ludovic Lepic, who commented sadly in 1884 (two years after the British occupation had begun): "L'Orient est mort au Caire." Only Renan, ever the realistic racist, condoned the British suppression of Arabi's nationalist rebellion, which, out of his greater wisdom, he said was a "disgrace to civilization."80
Unlike Volney and Napoleon, the nineteenth-century French pilgrims did not seek a scientific so much as an exotic yet especially attractive reality. This is obviously true of the literary pilgrims, beginning with Chateaubriand, who found in the Orient a locale sympathetic to their private myths, obsessions, and requirements. Here we notice how all the pilgrims, but especially the French ones, exploit the Orient in their work so as in some urgent way to justify their existential vocation. Only when there is some additional cognitive purpose in writing about the Orient does the outpouring of self seem more under control. Lamartine, for instance, writes about himself, and also about France as a power in the Orient; that second enterprise mutes and finally controls imperatives heaped upon his style byhis soul, his memory, andhis imagination. No pilgrim, French or English, could so ruthlessly dominate his self or his subject as Lane did. Even Burton and T. E. Lawrence, of whom the former fashioned a deliberately Muslim pilgrimage and the latter what he called a reverse pilgrimageaway from Mecca, delivered masses of historical, political, and social Orientalism that were never as free of their egos as Lane's were of his. This is why Burton, Lawrence, and Charles Doughty occupy a middle position between Lane and Chateaubriand.
Chateaubriand'sItinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem, et de Jérusalem à Paris (1810-1811) records the details of a journey undertaken in 1805-1806, after he had traveled in North America. Its many hundreds of pages bear witness to its author's admission that "je parle eternellement de moi," so much so that Stendhal, no selfabnegating writer himself, could find Chateaubriand's failure as a knowledgeable traveler to be the result of his "stinking egotism." He brought a very heavy load of personal objectives and suppositions to the Orient, unloaded them there, and proceeded thereafter to push people, places, and ideas around in the Orient as if nothing could resist his imperious imagination. Chateaubriand came to the Orient as a constructedfigure, not as a true self. For him Bonaparte was the last Crusader; he in turn was "the last Frenchman who left his country to travel in the Holy Land with the ideas, the goals, and the sentiments of a pilgrim of former times." But there were other reasons. Symmetry: having been to the New World and seen its monuments of nature, he needed to complete his circle of studies by visiting the Orient and its monuments of knowledge: as he had studied Roman and Celtic antiquity, all that was left for him was the ruins of Athens, Memphis, and Carthage. Self-completion: he needed to replenish his stock of images. Confirmation of the importance of the religious spirit: "religion is a kind of universal language understood by all men," and where better to observe it than there in the Orient, even in lands where a comparatively low religion like Islam held sway. Above all, the need to see things, not as they were, but as Chateaubriand supposed they were: the Koran was "le livre de Mahomet"; it contained "ni principe de civilisation, ni precepte qui puisse elever le caractere." "This book," he continued, more or less freely inventing as he went along, "preaches neither hatred of tyranny nor love of liberty."81
To so preciously constituted a figure as Chateaubriand, the Orient was a decrepit canvas awaiting his restorative efforts. The Oriental Arab was "civilized man fallen again into a savage state": no wonder, then, that as he watched Arabs trying to speak French, Chateaubriand felt like Robinson Crusoe thrilled by hearing his parrot speak for the first time. True, there were places like Bethlehem (whose etymological meaning Chateaubriand got-completely wrong) in which one found again some semblance of real -that is, European-civilization, but those were few and far between. Everywhere, one encountered Orientals, Arabs whose civilization, religion, and manners were so low, barbaric, and antithetical as to merit reconquest. The Crusades, he argued, were not aggression; they were a just Christian counterpart to Omar's arrival in Europe. Besides, he added, even if the Crusades in their modern or original form were aggression, the issue they raised transcended such questions of ordinary mortality:
The Crusades were not only about the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre, but more about knowing which would win on the earth, a cult that was civilization's enemy, systematically favorable to ignorance [this was Islam, of course], to despotism, to slavery, or a cult that had caused to reawaken in modern people the genius of a sage antiquity, and had abolished base servitude?82
This is the first significant mention of an idea that will acquire an almost unbearable, next to mindless authority in European writing: the theme of Europe teaching the Orient the meaning of liberty, which is an idea that Chateaubriand and everyone after him believed that Orientals, and especially Muslims, knew nothing about.
Of liberty, they know nothing; of propriety, they have none: force is their God. When they go for long periods without seeing conquerors who do heavenly justice, they have the air of soldiers without a leader, citizens without legislators, and a family without a father.83
Already in 1810 we have a European talking like Cromer in 1910, arguing that Orientals require conquest, and finding it no paradox that a Western conquest of the Orient was not conquest after all, but liberty. Chateaubriand puts the whole idea in the Romantic redemptive terms of a Christian mission to revive a dead world, to quicken in it a sense of its own potential, one which only a European can discern underneath a lifeless and degenerate surface. For the traveler this means that he must use the Old Testament and the Gospels as his guide in Palestine;84 only in this way can the apparent degeneration of the modem Orient be gotten beyond. Yet Chateaubriand senses no irony in the fact that his tour and his vision will reveal nothing to him about the modern Oriental and his destiny.
What matters about the Orient is what it lets happen to Chateaubriand, what it allows his spirit to do, what it permits him to reveal about himself, his ideas, his expectations.The liberty that so concerns him is no more than his own release from the Orient's hostile wastes.
Where his release allows him to go is directly back into the realm of imagination and imaginative interpretation. Description of the Orient is obliterated by the designs and patterns foisted upon it by the imperial ego, which makes no secret of its powers. If in Lane's prose we watch the ego disappear so that the Orient may appear in all its realistic detail, in Chateaubriand the ego dissolves itself in the contemplation of wonders it creates, and then is reborn, stronger than ever, more able to savor its powers and enjoy its interpretations.
When one travels in Judea, at first a great ennui grips the heart; but when, passing from one solitary place to another, space stretches out without limits before you, slowly the ennui dissipates, and one feels a secret terror, which, far from depressing the soul, gives it courage and elevates one's native genius. Extraordinary things are disclosed from all parts of an earth worked over by miracles: the burning sun, the impetuous eagle, the sterile fig tree; all of poetry, all the scenes from Scripture are present there. Every name encloses a mystery; every grotto declares the future; every summit retains within it the accents of a prophet. God Himself has spoken from these shores: the arid torrents, the riven rocks, the open tombs attest to the prodigy; the desert still seems struck dumb with terror, and one would say that it has still not been able to break the silence since it heard the voice of the eternal.85
The process of thought in this passage is revealing. An experience of Pascalian terror does not merely reduce one's self-confidence, it miraculously stimulates it. The barren landscape stands forth like an illuminated text presenting itself to the scrutiny of a very strong, refortified ego. Chateaubriand has transcended the abject, if frightening, reality of the contemporary Orient so that he may stand in an original and creative relationship to it. By the end of the passage he is no longer a modern man but a visionary seer more or less contemporary with God; if the Judean desert has been silent since God spoke there, it is Chateaubriand who can hear the silence, understand its meaning, and-to his reader-make the desert speak again.
The great gifts of sympathetic intuition which had enabled Chateaubriand to represent and interpret North American mysteries inRené and Atala, as well as Christianity inLe Génie du Christianisme, are aroused to even greater feats of interpretation during theItinéraire. No longer is the author dealing with natural primitivity and romantic sentiment: here he is dealing with eternal creativity and divine originality themselves, for it is in the Biblical Orient that they were first deposited, and they have remained there in unmediated and latent form. Of course, they cannot be simply grasped; they must be aspired to and achieved by Chateaubriand. And it is this ambitious purpose that theItinéraire is made to serve, just as in the text Chateaubriand's ego must be reconstructed radically enough to get the job done. Unlike Lane, Chateaubriand attempts toconsume the Orient. He not only appropriates it, he represents and speaks for it, not in history but beyond history, in the timeless dimension of a completely healed world, where men and lands, God and men, are as one. In Jerusalem, therefore, at the center of his vision and at the ultimate end of his pilgrimage, he grants himself a sort of total reconciliation with the Orient, the Orient as Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Greek, Persian, Roman, and finally French. He is moved by the plight of the Jews, but he judges that they too serve to illuminate his general vision, and as a further benefit, they give the necessary poignance to his Christian vindictiveness. God, he says, has chosen a new people, and it is not the Jews.86
He makes some other concessions to terrestrial reality, however. If Jerusalem is booked into his itinerary as its final extraterrestrial goal, Egypt provides him with material for a political excursus. His ideas about Egypt supplement his pilgrimage nicely. The magnificent Nile Delta moves him to assert that
I found only the memories of my glorious country worthy of those magnificent plains; I saw the remains of monuments of a new civilization, brought to the banks of the Nile by the genius of France.87
But these ideas are put in a nostalgic mode because in Egypt Chateaubriand believes he can equate the absence of France with the absence of a free government ruling a happy people. Besides, after Jerusalem, Egypt appears to be only a kind of spiritual anticlimax. After political commentary on its sorry state, Chateaubriand asks himself the routine question about "difference" as a result of historical development: how can this degenerate stupid mob of "Musulmans" have come to inhabit the same land whose vastly different owners so impressed Herodotus and Diodorus?
This is a fitting valedictory to Egypt, which he leaves for Tunis, Carthaginian ruins, and finally, home. Yet he does one last thing of note in Egypt: unable to do more than look at the Pyramids from a distance, he takes the trouble to send an emissary there, to have him inscribe his (Chateaubriand's) name on the stone, adding for our benefit, "one has to fulfill all the little obligations of a pious traveler." We would not ordinarily give much more than amused attention to this charming bit of touristic banality. As a preparation, however, for the very last page of theItinéraire, it appears more important than at first glance. Reflecting on his twenty-year project to study "tous les hasards et tous les chagrins" as an exile, Chateaubriand notes elegiacally how every one of his books has been in fact a kind of prolongation of his existence. A man with neither a home nor the possibility of acquiring one, he finds himself now well past his youth. If heaven accords him eternal rest, he says, he promises to dedicate himself in silence to erecting a "monument a ma patrie." What he is left with on earth, however, is his writing, which, if his name will live, has been enough, and if it will not live, has been too much.88
These closing lines send us back to Chateaubriand's interest in getting his name inscribed on the Pyramids. We will have understood that his egoistic Oriental memoirs supply us with a constantly demonstrated, an indefatigably performed experience of self. Writing was an act of life for Chateaubriand, for whom nothing, not even a distant piece of stone, must remain scriptively untouched by him if he was to stay alive. If the order of Lane's narrative was to be violated by scientific authority and enormous detail, then Chateaubriand's was to be transformed into the asserted will of an egoistic, highly volatile individual. Whereas Lane would sacrifice his ego to the Orientalist canon, Chateaubriand would make everything he said about the Orient wholly dependent on his ego. Yet neither writer could conceive of his posterity as continuing on fruitfully after him. Lane entered the impersonality of a technical discipline: his work would be used, but not as a human document. Chateaubriand, on the other hand, saw that his writing, like the token inscription of his name on a Pyramid, would signify his self; if not, if he had not succeeded in prolonging his life by writing, it would be merely excessive, superfluous.
Even if all travelers to the Orient after Chateaubriand and Lane have taken their work into account (in some cases, even to the extent of copying from them verbatim), their legacy embodies the fate of Orientalism and the options to which it was limited. Either one wrote science like Lane or personal utterance like Chateaubriand. The problems with the former were its impersonal Western confidence that descriptions of general, collective phenomena were possible, and its tendency to make realities not so much out of the Orient as out of its own observations. The problem with personal utterance was that it inevitably retreated into a position equating the Orient with private fantasy, even if that fantasy was of a very high order indeed, aesthetically speaking. In both cases, of course, Orientalism enjoyed a powerful influence on how the Orient was described and characterized. But what that influence always prevented, even until today, was some sense of the Orient that was neither impossibly general nor imperturbably private. To look into Orientalism for a lively sense of an Oriental's human or even social reality-as a contemporary inhabitant of the modern world-is to look in vain.
The influence of the two options I have described, Lane's and Chateaubriand's, British and French, is a great deal of the reason for this omission. The growth of knowledge, particularly specialized knowledge, is a very slow process. Far from being merely additive or cumulative, the growth of knowledge is a process of selective accumulation, displacement, deletion, rearrangement, and insistence within what has been called a research consensus. The legitimacy of such knowledge as Orientalism was during the nineteenth century stemmed not from religious authority, as had been the case before the Enlightenment, but from what we can call the restorative citation of antecedent authority. Beginning with Sacy, the learned Orientalist's attitude was that of a scientist who surveyed a series of textual fragments, which he thereafter edited and arranged as a restorer of old sketches might put a series of them together for the cumulative picture they implicitly represent. Consequently, amongst themselves Orientalists treat each other's work in the same citationary way. Burton, for example, would deal with the ArabianNights or with Egypt indirectly,through Lane's work, by citing his predecessor, challenging him even though he was granting him very great authority. Nerval's own voyage to the Orient was by way of Lamartine's, and the latter's by way of Chateaubriand. In short, as a form of growing knowledge Orientalism resorted mainly to citations of predecessor scholars in the field for its nutriment. Even when new materials came his way, the Orientalist judged them by borrowing from predecessors (as scholars so often do) their perspectives, ideologies, and guiding theses. In a fairly strict way, then, Orientalists after Sacy and Lane rewrote Sacy and Lane; after Chateaubriand, pilgrims rewrote him. From these complex rewritings the actualities of the modern Orient were systematically excluded, especially when gifted pilgrims like Nerval and Flaubert preferred Lane's descriptions to what their eyes and minds showed them immediately.
In the system of knowledge about the Orient, the Orient is less a place than atopos , a set of references, a congeries of characteristics, that seems to have its origin in a quotation, or a fragment of a text, or a citation from someone's work on the Orient or some bit of previous imagining, or an amalgam of all these. Direct observation or circumstantial description of the Orient are the fictions presented by writing on the Orient, yet invariably these are totally secondary to systematic tasks of another sort. In Lamartine, Nerval, and Flaubert, the Orient is a re-presentation of canonical material guided by an aesthetic and executive will capable of producing interest in the reader. Yet in all three writers, Orientalism or some aspect of it is asserted, even though, as I said earlier, the narrative consciousness is given a very large role to play. What we shall see is that for all its eccentric individuality, this narrative consciousness will end up by being aware, like Bouvard and Pecuchet, that pilgrimage is after all a form of copying.
When he began his trip to the Orient in 1833, Lamartine did so, he said, as something he had always dreamed about: "un voyage en Orient [etait] comme un grand acte de ma vie interieure." He is a bundle of predispositions, sympathies, biases: he hates the Romans and Carthage, and loves Jews, Egyptians, and Hindus, whose Dante he claims he will become. Armed with a formal verse "Adieu" to France, in which he lists everything that he plans to do in the Orient, he embarks for the East. At first everything he encounters either confirms his poetic predictions or realizes his propensity for analogy. Lady Hester Stanhope is the Circe of the desert; the Orient is the "patrie de mon imagination"; the Arabs are a primitive people; Biblical poetry is engraved on the land of Lebanon; the Orient testifies to the attractive largeness of Asia and to Greece's comparative smallness. Soon after he reaches Palestine, however, he becomes the incorrigible maker of an imaginary Orient.
He alleges that the plains of Canaan appear to best advantage in the works of Poussin and Lorrain. From being a "translation," as he called it earlier, his voyage is now turned into a prayer, which exercises his memory, soul, and heart more than it does his eyes, mind, or spirit.89
This candid announcement completely unlooses Lamartine's analogic and reconstructive (and undisciplined) zeal. Christianity is a religion of imagination and recollection, and since Lamartine considers that he typifies the pious believer, he indulges himself accordingly. A catalogue of his tendentious "observations" would be interminable: a woman he sees reminds him of Haidee in Don Juan; the relationship between Jesus and Palestine is like that between Rousseau and Geneva; the actual river Jordan is less important than the "mysteries" it gives rise to in one's soul; Orientals, and Muslims in particular, are lazy, their politics are capricious, passionate, and futureless; another woman reminds him of a passage in Atala; neither Tasso nor Chateaubriand (whose antecedent travels seem often to harass Lamartine's otherwise heedless egoism) got the Holy Land right-and on and on. His pages on Arabic poetry, about which he discourses with supreme confidence, betray no discomfort at his total ignorance of the language. All that matters to him is that his travels in the Orient reveal to him how the Orient is "la terre des cultes, des prodiges," and that he is its appointed poet in the West. With no trace of self-irony he announces:
This Arab land is the land of prodigies; everything sprouts there, and every credulous or fanatical man can become a prophet there in his turn.90
He has become a prophet merely by the fact of residence in the Orient.
By the end of his narrative Lamartine has achieved the purpose of his pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, that beginning and end point of all time and space. He has internalized reality enough to want to retreat from it back into pure contemplation, solitude, philosophy, and poetry.91
Rising above the merely geographical Orient, he is transformed into a latter day Chateaubriand, surveying the East as if it were a personal (or at the very least a French) province ready to be disposed of by European powers. From being a traveler and pilgrim in real time and space, Lamartine has become a transpersonal ego identifying itself in power and consciousness with the whole of Europe. What he sees before him is the Orient in the process of its inevitable future dismemberment, being taken over and consecrated by European suzerainty. Thus in Lamartine's climactic vision the Orient is reborn as European right-to-power over it:
This sort of suzerainty thus defined, and consecrated as a European right,will consist principally in the right to occupy one or another territory, as well as the coasts, in order to found there either free cities, or European colonies, or commercial ports of call ....
Nor does Lamartine stop at this. He climbs still higher to the point where the Orient, what he has just seen and where he has just been, is reduced to "nations without territory,patrie, rights, laws or security ...waiting anxiously for the shelter" of European occupation.92
In all the visions of the Orient fabricated by Orientalism there is no recapitulation, literally, as entire as this one. For Lamartine a pilgrimage to the Orient has involved not only the penetration of the Orient by an imperious consciousness but also the virtual elimination of that consciousness as a result of its accession to a kind of impersonal and continental control over the Orient. The Orient's actual identity is withered away into a set of consecutive fragments, Lamartine's recollective observations, which are later to be gathered up and brought forth as a restated Napoleonic dream of world hegemony. Whereas Lane's human identity disappeared into the scientific grid of his Egyptian classifications, Lamartine's consciousness transgresses its normal bounds completely. In so doing, it repeats Chateaubriand's journey and his visions only to move on beyond them, into the sphere of the Shelleyan and Napoleonic abstract, by which worlds and populations are moved about like so many cards on a table. What remains of the Orient in Lamartine's prose is not very substantial at all. Its geopolitical reality has been overlaid with his plans for it; the sites he has visited, the people he has met, the experiences he has had, are reduced to a few echoes in his pompous generalizations. The last traces of particularity have been rubbed out in the "resume politique" with which theVoyage en Orient concludes.
Against the transcendent quasi-national egoism of Lamartine we must place Nerval and Flaubert in contrast. Their Oriental works play a substantial role in their totaloeuvre, a much greater one than Lamartine's imperialistVoyage in hisoeuvre. Yet both of them, like Lamartine, came to the Orient prepared for it by voluminous reading in the classics, modern literature, and academic Orientalism; about this preparation Flaubert was much more candid than Nerval, who inLes Filles du feu says disingenuously that all he knew about the Orient was a half-forgotten memory from his school education.93 The evidence of hisVoyage en Orient flatly contradicts this, although it shows a much less systematic and disciplined knowledge of Orientalia than Flaubert's. More important, however, is the fact that both writers (Nerval in1842-1843 and Flaubert in1849-1850) had greater personal and aesthetic uses for their visits to the Orient than any other nineteenth-century travelers. It is not inconsequential that both were geniuses to begin with, and that both were thoroughly steeped in aspects of European culture that encouraged a sympathetic, if perverse, vision of the Orient. Nerval and Flaubert belonged to that community of thought and feeling described by Mario Praz inThe Romantic Agony, a community for which the imagery of exotic places, the cultivation of sadomasochistic tastes (what Praz callsalgolagnia), a fascination with the macabre, with the notion of a Fatal Woman, with secrecy and occultism, all combined to enable literary work of the sort produced by Gautier (himself fascinated by the Orient), Swinburne, Baudelaire, and Huysmans.94 For Nerval and Flaubert, such female figures as Cleopatra, Salome, and Isis have a special significance; and it was by no means accidental that in their work on the Orient, as well as in their visits to it, they pre-eminently valorized and enhanced female types of this legendary, richly suggestive, and associative sort.
In addition to their general cultural attitudes, Nerval and Flaubert brought to the Orient a personal mythology whose concerns and even structure required the Orient. Both men were touched by the Oriental renaissance as Quinet and others had defined it: they sought the invigoration provided by the fabulously antique and the exotic. For each, however, the Oriental pilgrimage was a quest for something relatively personal: Flaubert seeking a "homeland," as Jean Bruneau has called it,95 in the locales of the origin of religions, visions, and classical antiquity; Nerval seeking -or rather following-the traces of his personal sentiments and dreams, like Sterne's Yorick before him. For both writers the Orient was a place therefore of deja vu, and for both, with the artistic economy typical of all major aesthetic imaginations, it was a place often returned to after the actual voyage had been completed. For neither of them was the Orient exhausted by their uses of it, even if there is often a quality of disappointment, disenchantment, or demystification to be found in their Oriental writings.
The paramount importance of Nerval and Flaubert to a study such as this of the Orientalist mind in the nineteenth century is that they produced work that is connected to and depends upon the kind of Orientalism we have so far discussed, yet remains independent from it. First there is the matter of their work's scope. Nerval produced hisVoyage en Orient as a collection of travel notes, sketches, stories, and fragments; his preoccupation with the Orient is to be found as well inLes Chimeres, in his letters, in some of his fiction and other prose writings. Flaubert's writing both before and after his visit is soaked in the Orient. The Orient appears in theCarnets de Voyage and in the first version ofLa Tentation de Saint Antoine (and in the two later versions), as well as inHérodias, Salammbô, and the numerous reading notes, scenarios, and unfinished stories still available to us, which have been very intelligently studied by Bruneau.96 There are echoes of Orientalism in Flaubert's other major novels, too. In all, both Nerval and Flaubert continually elaborated their Oriental material and absorbed it variously into the special structures of their personal aesthetic projects. This is not to say, however, that the Orient is incidental to their work. Rather-by contrast with such writers as Lane (from whom both men borrowed shamelessly), Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Renan, Sacy-their Orient was not so much grasped, appropriated, reduced, or codified as lived in, exploited aesthetically and imaginatively as a roomy place full of possibility. What mattered to them was the structure of their work as an independent, aesthetic, and personal fact, and not the ways by which, if one wanted to, one could effectively dominate or set down the Orient graphically. Their egos never absorbed the Orient, nor totally identified the Orient with documentary and textual knowledge of it (with official Orientalism, in short).
On the one hand, therefore, the scope of their Oriental work exceeds the limitations imposed by orthodox Orientalism. On the other hand, the subject of their work is more than Oriental or Orientalistic (even though they do their own Orientalizing of the Orient); it quite consciously plays with the limitations and the challenges presented to them by the Orient and by knowledge about it. Nerval, for example, believes that he has to infuse what he sees with vitality since, he says, Le ciel et la mer sont toujours là; le ciel d'Orient, la mer d'Ionie se donnent chaque matin le saint baiser d'amour; mais la terre est morte, morte sous la main de I'homme, et lea dieux se sont envolés!
(The sky and the sea are still there; the Oriental sky and the Ionian sky give each other the sacred kiss of love each morning; but the earth is dead, dead because man has killed it, and the gods have fled.)
If the Orient is to live at all, now that its gods have fled, it must be through his fertile efforts. In theVoyage en Orient the narrative consciousness is a constantly energetic voice, moving through the labyrinths of Oriental existence armed-Nerval tells us-with two Arabic words,tayeb, the word for assent, andmafisch , the word for rejection. These two words enable him selectively to confront the antithetical Oriental world, to confront it and draw out from it its secret principles. He is predisposed to recognize that the Orient is "le pays des rêves et de l'illision," which, like the veils he sees everywhere in Cairo, conceal a deep, rich fund of female sexuality. Nerval repeats Lane's experience of discovering the necessity for marriage in an Islamic society, but unlike Lane he does attach himself to a woman. His liaison with Zaynab is more than socially obligatory:
I must unite with a guileless young girl who is of this sacred soil, which is our first homeland; I must bathe myself in the vivifying springs of humanity, from which poetry and the faith of our fathers flowed forth! ...I would like to lead my life like a novel, and I willingly place myself in the situation of one of those active and resolute heroes who wish at all costs to create a drama around them, a knot of complexity, in a word, action.97
Nerval invests himself in the Orient, producing not so much a novelistic narrative as an everlasting intention-never fully realized -to fuse mind with physical action. This antinarrative, this parapilgrimage, is a swerving away from discursive finality of the sort envisioned by previous writers on the Orient.
Connected physically and sympathetically to the Orient, Nerval wanders informally through its riches and its cultural (and principally feminine) ambience, locating in Egypt especially that maternal "center, at once mysterious and accessible" from which all wisdom derives.98 His impressions, dreams, and memories alternate with sections of ornate, mannered narrative done in the Oriental style; the hard realities of travel-in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey-mingle with the design of a deliberate digression, as if Nerval were repeating Chateaubriand'sItinéraire using an underground, though far less imperial and obvious, route. Michel Butor puts it beautifully:
To Nerval's eyes, Chateaubriand's journey remains a voyage along the surface, while his own is calculated, utilizing annex centers, lobbies of ellipses englobing the principal centers; this allows him to place in evidence, by parallax, all the dimensions of the snare harbored by the normal centers. Wandering the streets or environs of Cairo, Beirut, or Constantinople, Nerval is always lying in wait for anything that will allow him to sense a cavern extending beneath Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem [the principal cities of Chateaubriand'sItinéraire]
Just as the three cities of Chateaubriand are in communication -Rome, with its emperors and popes, reassembling the heritage, the testament, of Athens and Jerusalem-the caverns of Nerval ...become engaged in intercourse.99
Even the two large plotted episodes, "The Tale of the Caliph Hakim" and "The Tale of the Queen of the Morning," that will supposedly convey a durable, solid narrative discourse seem to push Nerval away from "overground" finality, edging him further and further into a haunting internal world of paradox and dream. Both tales deal with multiple .identity, one of whose motifs-explicitly stated-is incest, and both return us to Nerval's quintessential Oriental world of uncertain, fluid dreams infinitely multiplying themselves past resolution, definiteness, materiality. When the journey is completed and Nerval arrives in Malta on his way back to the European mainland, he realizes that he is now in "le pays du froid et des orages, et déjà l'Orient n'est plus pour moi qu'un de ses rêves du matin auxquels viennent bientôt succéder les ennuis du jour."100 HisVoyage incorporates numerous pages copied out of Lane'sModern Egyptians, but even their lucid confidence seems to dissolve in the endlessly decomposing, cavernous element which is Nerval's Orient.
His carnet for theVoyage supplies us, I think, with two perfect texts for understanding how his Orient untied itself from anything resembling an Orientalist conception of the Orient, even though his work depends on Orientalism to a certain extent. First, his appetites strive to gather in experience and memory indiscriminately: "Je sens le besoin de m'assimiler toute la nature (femmes térangères).Souvenirs d'y avoir vécu." The second elaborates a bit on the first: "Les rêves et la folie ...Le désir del'Orient. L'Europe s'élève.Le rêve se réalise ...Elle.Je l'avais fuie, je l'avais perdue ...Vaisseau d'Orient."101 The Orient symbolizes Nerval's dreamquest and the fugitive woman central to it, both as desire and as loss. "Vaisseau d'Orient"---vessel of the Orient-refers enigmatically either to the woman as the vessel carrying the Orient, or possibly, to Nerval's own vessel for the Orient, his prosevoyage. In either case, the Orient is identified with commemorativeabsence.
How else can we explain in theVoyage, a work of so original and individual a mind, the lazy use of large swatches of Lane, incorporated without a murmur by Nerval as his descriptions of the Orient? It is as if having failed both in his search for a stable Oriental reality and in his intent to give systematic order to his re-presentation of the Orient, Nerval was employing the borrowed authority of a canonized Orientalist text. After his voyage the earth remained dead, and aside from its brilliantly crafted but fragmented embodiments in theVoyage, his self was no less drugged and worn out than before. Therefore the Orient seemed retrospectively to belong to a negative realm, in which failed narratives, disordered chronicles, mere transcription of scholarly texts, were its only possible vessel. At least Nerval did not try to save his project by wholeheartedly giving himself up to French designs on the Orient, although he did resort to Orientalism to make some of his points.
In contrast to Nerval's negative vision of an emptied Orient, Flaubert's is eminently corporeal. His travel notes and letters reveal a man scrupulously reporting events, persons, and settings, delighting in theirbizarreries, never attempting to reduce the incongruities before him. In what he writes (or perhaps because he writes), the premium is on the eye-catching, translated into self-consciously worked-out phrases: for example, "Inscriptions and bird droppings are the only two things in Egypt that give any indication of life.102 His tastes run to the perverse, whose form is often a combination of extreme animality, even of grotesque nastiness, with extreme and sometimes intellectual refinement. Yet this particular kind of perversity was not something merely observed, it was also studied, and came to represent an essential element in Flaubert's fiction. The familiar oppositions, or ambivalences, as Harry Levin has called them, that roam through Flaubert's writing-flesh versus mind, Salome versus Saint John, Salammbo versus Saint Anthony103 ---are powerfully validated by what he saw in the Orient, what, given his eclectic learning, he could see there of the partnership between knowledge and carnal grossness. In Upper Egypt he was taken with ancient Egyptian art, its preciosity and deliberate lubricity: "so dirty pictures existed even so far back in antiquity?" How much more the Orient really answered questions than it raised them is evident in the following:
You [Flaubert's mother] ask me whether the Orient is up to what I imagined it to be. Yes, it is; and more than that, it extends far beyond the narrow idea I had of it. I have found, clearly delineated, everything that was hazy in my mind. Facts have taken the place of suppositions-so excellently so that it is often as though I were suddenly coming upon old forgotten dreams.104
Flaubert's work is so complex and so vast as to make any simple account of his Oriental writing very sketchy and hopelessly incomplete. Nevertheless, in the context created by other writers on the Orient, a certain number of main features in Flaubert's Orientalism can fairly be described. Making allowances for the difference between candidly personal writing (letters, travel notes, diary jottings) and formally aesthetic writing (novels and tales), we can still remark that Flaubert's Oriental perspective is rooted in an eastward and southward search for a "visionary alternative," which "meant gorgeous color, in contrast to the greyish tonality of the French provincial landscape. It meant exciting spectacle instead of humdrum routine, the perennially mysterious in place of the all too familiar."105 When he actually visited it, however, this Orient impressed him with its decrepitude and senescence. Like every other Orientalism, then, Flaubert's is revivalist:he must bring the Orient to life, he must deliver it to himself and to his readers, and it is his experience of it in books and on the spot, and his language for it that will do the trick. His novels of the Orient accordingly were labored historical and learned reconstructions. Carthage in Salammbo and the products of Saint Anthony's fevered imagination were authentic fruits of Flaubert's wide reading in the (mainly Western) sources of Oriental religion, warfare, ritual, and societies.
What the formal aesthetic work retains, over and above the marks of Flaubert's voracious readings and recensions, are memories of Oriental travel. TheBibliothèque des idées reçues has it that an Orientalist is "un homme qui a beaucoup voyagé,"106 only unlike most other such travelers Flaubert put his voyages to ingenious use. Most of his experiences are conveyed in theatrical form. He is interested not only in the content of what he sees but-like Renan -inhow he sees, the way by which the Orient, sometimes horribly but always attractively, seems to present itself to him. Flaubert is its best audience:
...Kasr el-'Aini Hospital. Well maintained. The work of Clot Bey-his hand is still to be seen. Pretty cases of syphilis; in the ward of Abbas's Mamelukes, several have it in the arse. At a sign from the doctor, they all stood up on their beds, undid their trouserbelts (it was like army drill), and opened their anuses with their fingers to show their chancres. Enormous infundibula; one had a growth of hair inside his anus. One old man's prick entirely devoid of skin; I recoiled from the stench. A rachitic: hands curved backward, nails as long as claws; one could see the bone structure of his torso as clearly as a skeleton; the rest of his body, too, was fantastically thin, and his head was ringed with whitish leprosy.
Dissecting room: ...On the table an Arab cadaver, wide open; beautiful black hair ….107
The lurid detail of this scene is related to many scenes in Flaubert's novels, in which illness is presented to us as if in a clinical theater.His fascination with dissection and beauty recalls, for instance, the final scene ofSalammbô, culminating in Mâtho's ceremonial death. In such scenes, sentiments of repulsion or sympathy are repressed entirely; what matters is the correct rendering of exact detail.
The most celebrated moments in Flaubert's Oriental travel have to do with Kuchuk Hanem, a famous Egyptian dancer and courtesan he encountered in Wadi Halfa. He had read in Lane about thealmehs and thekhawals, dancing girls and boys respectively, but it was his imagination rather than Lane's that could immediately grasp as well as enjoy the almost metaphysical paradox of thealmeh's profession and the meaning of her name. (In Victory, Joseph Conrad was to repeat Flaubert's observation by making his musician heroine-Alma-irresistibly attractive and dangerous to Axel Heyst.)Alemah in Arabic means a learned woman. It was the name given to women in conservative eighteenth-century Egyptian society who were accomplished reciters of poetry. By the mid-nineteenth century the title was used as a sort of guild name for dancers who were also prostitutes, and such was Kuchuk Hanem, whose dance "L'Abeille" Flaubert watched before he slept with her. She was surely the prototype of several of his novels' female characters in her learned sensuality, delicacy, and (according to Flaubert) mindless coarseness. What he especially liked about her was that she seemed to place no demands on him, while the "nauseating odor" of her bedbugs mingled enchantingly with "the scent of her skin, which was dripping with sandalwood."After his voyage, he had written Louise Colet reassuringly that "the oriental woman is no more than a machine: she makes no distinction between one man and another man." Kuchuk's dumb and irreducible sexuality allowed Flaubert's mind to wander in ruminations whose haunting power over him reminds us somewhat of Deslauriers and Fréderic Moreau at the end ofl'Education sentimentale:
As for me, I scarcely shut my eyes. Watching that beautiful creature asleep (she snored, her head against my arm: I had slipped my forefinger under her necklace), my night was one long, infinitely intense reverie--that was why I stayed. I thought of my nights in Paris brothels-a whole series of old memories came back-and I thought of her, of her dance, of her voice as she sang songs that for me were without meaning and even without distinguishable words.108
The Oriental woman is an occasion and an opportunity for Flaubert's musings; he is entranced by her self-sufficiency, by her emotional carelessness, and also by what, lying next to him, she allows him to think. Less a woman than a display of impressive but verbally inexpressive femininity, Kuchuk is the prototype of Flaubert's Salammbô and Salomé as well as of all the versions of carnal female temptation to which his Saint Anthony is subject. Like the Queen of Sheba (who also danced "The Bee") she could say-were she able to speak-"Je ne suis pas une femme, je suis un monde."109 Looked at from another angle Kuchuk is a disturbing symbol of fecundity, peculiarly Oriental in her luxuriant and seemingly unbounded sexuality. Her home near the upper reaches of the Nile occupied a position structurally similar to the place where the veil of Tanit- the goddess described asOmniféconde-is concealed inSalammbô. 110 Yet like Tanit, Salomé and Salammbô herself, Kuchuk was doomed to remain barren, corrupting, without issue. How much she and the Oriental world she lived in came to intensify for Flaubert his own sense of barrenness is indicated in the following:
We have a large orchestra, a rich palette, a variety of resources. We know many more tricks and dodges, probably, than were ever known before. No, what we lack is the intrinsic principle, the soul of the thing, the very idea of the subject. We take notes, we make journeys: emptiness! emptiness! We become scholars, archaeologists, historians, doctors, cobblers, people of taste. What is the good of all that? Where is the heart, the verve, the sap? Where to start from? Where to go? We're good at sucking, we play a lot of tongue-games, we pet for hours: but the real thing! To ejaculate, beget the child!111
Woven through all of Flaubert's Oriental experiences, exciting or disappointing, is an almost uniform association between the Orient and sex. In making this association Flaubert was neither the first nor the most exaggerated instance of a remarkably persistent motif in Western attitudes to the Orient. And indeed, the motif itself is singularly unvaried, although Flaubert's genius may have done more than anyone else's could have to give it artistic dignity. Why the Orient seems still to suggest not only fecundity but sexual promise (and threat), untiring sensuality, unlimited desire, deep generative energies, is something on which one could speculate: it is not the province of my analysis here, alas, despite its frequently noted appearance. Nevertheless one must acknowledge its importance as something eliciting complex responses, sometimes even a frightening self-discovery, in the Orientalists, and Flaubert was an interesting case in point.
The Orient threw him back on his own human and technical resources. It did not respond, just as Kuchuk did not, to his presence. Standing before its ongoing life Flaubert, like Lane before him, felt his detached powerlessness, perhaps also his self-induced unwillingness, to enter and become part of what he saw. This of course was Flaubert's perennial problem; it had existed before he went East, and it remained after the visit. Flaubert admitted the difficulty, the antidote to which was in his work (especially in an Oriental work like La Tentation de Saint Antoine) to stress the form of encyclopedic presentation of material at the expense of human engagement in life. Indeed, Saint Anthony is nothing if not a man for whom reality is a series of books, spectacles, and pageants unrolling temptingly and at a distance before his eyes. All of Flaubert's immense learning is structured-as Michel Foucault has tellingly noted-like a theatrical, fantastic library, parading before the anchorite's gaze;112 residually, the parade carries in its form Flaubert's memories of Kasr el'Aini (the syphilitics' army drill) and Kuchuk's dance. More to the point, however, is that Saint Anthony is a celibate to whom temptations are primarily sexual. After putting up with every sort of dangerous charm, he is finally given a glimpse into the biological processes of life; he is delirious at being able to see life being born, a scene for which Flaubert felt himself to be incompetent during his Oriental sojourn. Yet because Anthony is delirious, we are meant to read the scene ironically. What is granted to him at the end, the desire tobecome matter, to become life, is at best a desire-whether realizable and fulfillable or not, we cannot know.
Despite the energy of his intelligence and his enormous power, of intellectual absorption, Flaubert felt in the Orient, first, that "the more you concentrate on it [in detail] the less you grasp the whole," and then, second, that "the pieces fall into place of themselves."113 At best, this produces aspectacular form, but it remains barred to the Westerner's full participation in it. On one level this was a personal predicament for Flaubert, and he devised means, some of which we have discussed, for dealing with it. On a more general level, this was anepistemological difficulty for which, of course, the discipline of Orientalism existed. At one moment during his Oriental tour he considered what the epistemological challenge could give rise to: Without what he called spirit and style, the mind could "get lost in archaeology": he was referring to a sort of regimented antiquarianism by which the exotic and the strange would get formulated into lexicons, codes, and finally cliches of the kind he was to ridicule in theDictionnaire des idées reçues. Under the influence of such an attitude the world would be "regulated like a college. Teachers will be the law. Everyone will be in uniform."114 As against such an imposed discipline, he no doubt felt that his own treatments of exotic material, notably the Oriental material he had both experienced and read about for years, were infinitely preferable. In those at least there was room for a sense of immediacy, imagination, and flair, whereas in the ranks of archaeological tomes everything but "learning" had been squeezed out. And more than most novelists Flaubert was acquainted with organized learning, its products, and its results: these products are clearly evident in the misfortunes of Bouvard and Pecuchet, but they would have been as comically apparent in fields like Orientalism, whose textual attitudes belonged to the world ofidées reçues. Therefore one could either construct the world with verve and style, or one could copy it tirelessly according to impersonal academic rules of procedure.
In both cases, with regard to the Orient, there was a frank acknowledgment that it was a world elsewhere, apart from the ordinary attachments, sentiments, and values of our world in the West.
In all of his novels Flaubert associates the Orient with the escapism of sexual fantasy. Emma Bovary and Fréderic Moreau pine for what in their drab (or harried) bourgeois lives they do not have, and what they realize they want comes easily to their daydreams packed inside Oriental clichés: harems, princesses, princes, slaves, veils, dancing girls and boys, sherbets, ointments, and so on. The repertoire is familiar, not so much because it reminds us of Flaubert's own voyages in and obsession with the Orient, but because, once again, the association is clearly made between the Orient and the freedom of licentious sex. We may as well recognize that for nineteenth-century Europe, with its increasingembourgeoisement, sex had been institutionalized to a very considerable degree. On the one hand, there was no such thing as "free" sex, and on the other, sex in society entailed a web of legal, moral, even political and economic obligations of a detailed and certainly encumbering sort. Just as the various colonial possessions-quite apart from their economic benefit to metropolitan Europe-were useful as places to send wayward sons, superfluous populations of delinquents, poor people, and other undesirables, so the Orient was a place where one could look for sexual experience unobtainable in Europe. Virtually no European writer who wrote on or traveled to the Orient in the period after 1800 exempted himself or herself from this quest: Flaubert, Nerval, "Dirty Dick" Burton, and Lane are only the most notable. In the twentieth century one thinks of Gide, Conrad, Maugham, and dozens of others. What they looked for often-correctly, I think-was a different type of sexuality, perhaps more libertine and less guilt-ridden; but even that quest, if repeated by enough people, could (and did) become as regulated and uniform as learning itself. In time "Oriental sex" was as standard a commodity as any other available in the mass culture, with the result that readers and writers could have it if they wished without necessarily going to the Orient.
It was certainly true that by the middle of the nineteenth century France, no less than England and the rest of Europe, had a flourishing knowledge industry of the sort that Flaubert feared. Great numbers of texts were being produced, and more important, the agencies and institutions for their dissemination and propagation were everywhere to be found. As historians of science and knowledge have observed, the organization of scientific and learned fields that took place during the nineteenth century was both rigorous and all-encompassing. Research became a regular activity; there was a regulated exchange of information, and agreement on what the problems were as well as consensus on the appropriate paradigms for research and its results.115 The apparatus serving Oriental studies was part of the scene, and this was one thing that Flaubert surely had in mind when he proclaimed that "everyone will be in uniform." An Orientalist was no longer a gifted amateur enthusiast, or if he was, he would have trouble being taken seriously as a scholar. To be an Orientalist meant university training in Oriental studies (by 1850 every major European university had a fully developed curriculum in one or another of the Orientalist disciplines), it meant subvention for one's travel (perhaps by one of the Asiatic societies or a geographical exploration fund or a government grant), it meant publication in accredited form (perhaps under the imprint of a learned society or an Oriental translation fund). And both within the guild of Orientalist scholars and to the public at large, such uniform accreditation as clothed the work of Orientalist scholarship, not personal testimony nor subjective impressionism, meant Science.
Added to the oppressive regulation of Oriental matters was the accelerated attention paid by the Powers (as the European empires were called) to the Orient, and to the Levant in particular. Ever since the Treaty of Chanak of 1806 between the Ottoman Empire and Great Britain, the Eastern Question had hovered ever more prominently on Europe's Mediterranean horizons. Britain's interests were more substantial in the East than France's, but we must not forget Russia's movements into the Orient (Samarkand and Bokhara were taken in 1868; the Transcaspian Railroad was being extended systematically), nor Germany's and Austria-Hungary's. France's North African interventions, however, were not the only components of its Islamic policy. In 1860, during the clashes between Maronites and Druzes in Lebanon (already predicted by Lamartine and Nerval), France supported the Christians, England the Druzes. For standing near the center of all European politics in the East was the question of minorities, whose "interests" the Powers, each in its own way, claimed to protect and represent. Jews, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Druzes, Circassians, Armenians, Kurds, the various small Christian sects: all these were studied, planned for, designed upon by European Powers improvising as well as constructing their Oriental policy.
I mention such matters simply as a way of keeping vivid the sense of layer upon layer of interests, official learning, institutional pressure, that covered the Orient as a subject matter and as a territory during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Even the most innocuous travel book-and there were literally hundreds written after mid-century116 -contributed to the density of public awareness of the Orient; a heavily marked dividing line separated the delights, miscellaneous exploits, and testimonial portentousness of individual pilgrims in the East (which included some American voyagers, among them Mark Twain and Herman Melville117 ) from the authoritative reports of scholarly travelers, missionaries, governmental functionaries, and other expert witnesses. This dividing line existed clearly in Flaubert's mind, as it must have for any individual consciousness that did not have an innocent perspective on the Orient as a terrain for literary exploitation.
English writers on the whole had a more pronounced and harder sense of what Oriental pilgrimages might entail than the French. India was a valuably real constant in this sense, and therefore all the territory between the Mediterranean and India acquired a correspondingly weighty importance. Romantic writers like Byron and Scott consequently had a political vision of the Near Orient and a very combative awareness of how relations between the Orient and Europe would have to be conducted. Scott's historical sense in TheTalisman andCount Robert of Paris allowed him to set these novels in Crusader Palestine and eleventh-century Byzantium, respectively, without at the same time detracting from his canny political appreciation of the way powers act abroad. The failure of Disraeli'sTancred can easily be ascribed to its author's perhaps overdeveloped knowledge of Oriental politics and the British Establishment's network of interests; Tancred's ingenuous desire to go to Jerusalem very soon mires Disraeli in ludicrously complex descriptions of how a Lebanese tribal chieftain tries to manage Druzes, Muslims, Jews, slid Europeans to his political advantage. By the end of the novel Tancred's Eastern quest has more or less disappeared because there is nothing in Disraeli's material vision of Oriental realities to nourish the pilgrim's somewhat capricious impulses. Even George Eliot, who never visited the Orient herself, could not sustain the Jewish equivalent of an Oriental pilgrimage inDaniel Deronda (1876) without straying into the complexities of British realities as they decisively affected the Eastern project.
Thus whenever the Oriental motif for the English writer was not principally a stylistic matter (as in FitzGerald'sRubaiyat or in Morier'sAdventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan), it forced him to confront a set of imposing resistances to his individual fantasy. There are no English equivalents to the Oriental works by Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Nerval, and Flaubert, just as Lane's early Orientalist counterparts--Sacy and Renan-were considerably more aware than he Was of how much they were creating what they wrote about. The form of such works as Kinglake'sEothen (1844) and Burton'sPersonal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah (1855-1856) is rigidly chronological and dutifully linear, as if what the authors were describing was a shopping trip to an Oriental bazaar rather than an adventure. Kinglake's undeservedly famous and popular work is a pathetic catalogue of pompous ethnocentrisms and tiringly nondescript accounts of the Englishman's East. His ostensible purpose in the book is to prove that travel in the Orient is important to "moulding of your character-that is, your very identity," but in fact this turns out to be little more than solidifying "your" anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and general allpurpose race prejudice. We are told, for instance, that theArabian Nights is too lively and inventive a work to have been created by a "mere Oriental, who, for creative purposes, is a thing dead and dry-a mental mummy." Although Kinglake blithely confesses to no knowledge of any Oriental language, he is not constrained by ignorance from making sweeping generalizations about the Orient, its culture, mentality, and society. Many of the attitudes he repeats are canonical, of course, but it is interesting how little the experience of actually seeing the Orient affected his opinions. Like many other travelers he is more interested in remaking himself and the Orient (dead and dry-a mental mummy) than he is in seeing what there is to be seen. Every being he encounters merely corroborates his belief that Easterners are best dealt with when intimidated, and what better instrument of intimidation than a sovereign Western ego? En route to Suez across the desert, alone, he glories in his self-sufficiency and power: "I was here in this African desert, and Imyself, and no other, had charge of my life." 118 It is for the comparatively useless purpose of letting Kinglake take hold of himself that the Orient serves him.
Like Lamartine before him, Kinglake comfortably identified his superior consciousness with his nation's, the difference being that in the Englishman's case his government was closer to settling in the rest of the Orient than France was-for the time being. Flaubert saw this with perfect accuracy:
It seems to me almost impossible that within a short time England won't become mistress of Egypt. She already keeps Aden full of her troops, the crossing of Suez will make it very easy for the redcoats to arrive in Cairo one fine morning-the news will reach France two weeks later and everyone will be very surprised! Remember my prediction: at the first sign of trouble in Europe, England will take Egypt, Russia will take Constantinople, and we, in retaliation, will get ourselves massacred in the mountains of Syria.119
For all their vaunted individuality Kinglake's views express a public and national will over the Orient; his ego is the instrument of this will's expression, not by any means its master. There is no evidence in his writing that he struggled to create a novel opinion of the Orient; neither his knowledge nor his personality was adequate for that, and this is the great difference between him and Richard Burton. As a traveler, Burton was a real adventurer; as a scholar, he could hold his own with any academic Orientalist in Europe; as a character, he was fully aware of the necessity of combat between himself and the uniformed teachers who ran Europe and European knowledge with such precise anonymity and scientific firmness. Everything Burton wrote testifies to this combativeness, rarely with more candid contempt for his opponents than in the preface to his translation of theArabian Nights. He seems to have taken a special sort of infantile pleasure in demonstrating that he knew more than any professional scholar, that he had acquired many more details than they had, that he could handle the material with more wit and tact and freshness than they.
As I said earlier, Burton's work based on his personal experience occupies a median position between Orientalist genres represented on the one hand by Lane and on the other by the French writers I have discussed. His Oriental narratives are structured as pilgrimages and, in the case ofThe Land of Midian Revisited, pilgrimages for a second time to sites of sometimes religious, sometimes political and economic significance. He is present as the principal character of these works, as much the center of fantastic adventure and even fantasy (like the French writers) as the authoritative commentator and detached Westerner on Oriental society and customs (like Lane). He has been rightly considered the first in a series of fiercely individualistic Victorian travelers in the East (the others being Blunt and Doughty) by Thomas Assad, who bases his work on the distance in tone and intelligence between his writers' work and such works as Austen Layard'sDiscoveries in the Ruins ofNineveh and Babylon (1851), Eliot Warburton's celebratedThe Crescent and the Cross (1844), Robert Curzon'sVisit to the Monasteries ofthe Levant (1849) , and (a work he does not mention) Thackeray's moderately amusingNotes ofa Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo (1845).120 Yet Burton's legacy is more complex than individualism precisely because in his writing we can find exemplified the struggle between individualism and a strong feeling of national identification with Europe (specifically England) as an imperial power in the East. Assad sensitively points out that Burton was an imperialist, for all his sympathetic self-association with the Arabs; but what is more relevant is that Burton thought of himself both as a rebel against authority (hence his identification with the East as a place of freedom from Victorian moral authority) and as a potential agent of authority in the East. It is themanner of that coexistence, between two antagonistic roles for himself,that is of interest.
The problem finally reduces itself to the problem of knowledge of the Orient, which is why a consideration of Burton's Orientalism ought to conclude our account of Orientalist structures and restructures in most of the nineteenth century. As a traveling adventurer Burton conceived of himself as sharing the life of the people in whose lands he lived. Far more successfully than T. E. Lawrence, he was able to become an Oriental; he not only spoke the language flawlessly, he was able to penetrate to the heart of Islam and, disguised as an Indian Muslim doctor, accomplish the pilgrimage to Mecca. Yet Burton's most extraordinary characteristic is, I believe, that he was preternaturally knowledgeable about the degree to which human life in society was governed by rules and codes. All of his vast information about the Orient, which dots every page he wrote, reveals that he knew that the Orient in general and Islam in particular were systems of information, behavior, and belief, that to be an Oriental or a Muslim was to know certain things in a certain way, and that these were of course subject to history, geography, and the development of society in circumstances specific to it. Thus his accounts of travel in the East reveal to us a consciousness aware of these things and able to steer a narrative course through them: no man who did not know Arabic and Islam as well as Burton could have gone as far as he did in actually becoming a pilgrim to Mecca and Medina. So what we read in his prose is the history of a consciousness negotiating its way through an alien culture by virtue of having successfully absorbed its systems of information and behavior. Burton's freedom was in having shaken himself loose of his European origins enough to be able to live as an Oriental. Every scene in the Pilgrimage reveals him as winning out over the obstacles confronting him, a foreigner, in a strange place. He was able to do this because he had sufficient knowledge of an alien society for this purpose.
In no writer on the Orient so much as in Burton do we feel that generalizations about the Oriental-for example, the pages on the notion ofKayf for the Arab or on how education is suited to the Oriental mind (pages that are clearly meant as a rebuttal to Macaulay's simple-minded assertions)121 -are the result of knowledge acquired about the Orient by living there, actually seeing it firsthand, truly trying to see Oriental life from the viewpoint of a person immersed in it. Yet what is never far from the surface of Burton's prose is another sense it radiates, a sense of assertion and domination over all the complexities of Oriental life. Every one of Burton's footnotes, whether in the Pilgrimage or in his translation of theArabian Nights (the same is true of his "Terminal Essay" for it122 ) was meant to be testimony to his victory over the sometimes scandalous system of Oriental knowledge, a system he had mastered by himself. For even in Burton's prose we are never directly given the Orient; everything about it is presented to us by way of Burton's knowledgeable (and often prurient) interventions, which remind us repeatedly how he had taken over the management of Oriental life for the purposes of his narrative. And it is this fact -for in the Pilgrimage it is a fact-that elevates Burton's consciousness to a position of supremacy over the Orient. In that position his individuality perforce encounters, and indeed merges with, the voice of Empire, which is itself a system of rules, codes, and concrete epistemological habits. Thus when Burton tells us in the Pilgrimage that "Egypt is a treasure to be won," that it "is the most tempting prize which the East holds out to the ambition of Europe, not excepted even the Golden Horn,123 we must recognize how the voice of the highly idiosyncratic master of Oriental knowledge informs, feeds into the voice of European ambition for rule over the Orient.
Burton's two voices blending into one presage the work of Orientalists-cumimperial agents like T. E. Lawrence, Edward Henry Palmer, D. G. Hogarth, Gertrude Bell, Ronald Storrs, St. John Philby, and William Gifford Palgrave, to name only some English writers. The doublepronged intention of Burton's work is at the same time to use his Oriental residence for scientific observationand not easily to sacrifice his individuality to that end. The second of these two intentions leads him inevitably to submit to the first because, as will appear increasingly obvious, he is a European for whom such knowledge of Oriental society as he has is possible only for a European, with a European's self-awareness of society as -a collection of rules and practices. In other words, to be a European in the Orient, and to be one knowledgeably, one must see and know the Orient as a domain ruled over by Europe. Orieritalism, which is the system of European or Western knowledge about the Orient, thus becomes synonymous with European domination of the Orient, and this domination effectively overrules even the eccentricities of Burton's personal style.
Burton took the assertion of personal, authentic, sympathetic, and humanistic knowledge of the Orient as far as it would go in its struggle with the archive of official European knowledge about the Orient. In the history of nineteenth century attempts to restore, restructure, and redeem all the various provinces of knowledge and life, Orientalism-like all the other Romantically inspired learned disciplines-contributed an important share. For not only did the field evolve from a system of inspired observation into what Flaubert called a regulated college of learning, it also reduced the personalities of even its most redoubtable individualists like Burton to the role of imperial scribe. From being a place, the Orient became a domain of actual scholarly rule and potential imperial sway. The role of the early Orientalists like Renan, Sacy, and Lane was to provide their work and the Orient together with amise en scene; later Orientalists, scholarly or imaginative, took firm hold of the scene. Still later, as the scene required management, it became clear that institutions and governments were better at the game of management than individuals. This is the legacy of nineteenth-century Orientalism to which the twentieth century has become inheritor. We must now investigate as exactly as possible the way twentiethcentury Orientalism-inaugurated by the long process of the West's occupation of the Orient from the 1880s on-successfully controlled freedom and knowledge; in short, the way Orientalism was fully formalized into a repeatedly produced copy of itself.