A Study of Antinarrative Elements in Alexander Burnes’ Travels into Bokhara

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D. Candidate of English Literature, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

2 Professor of English Literature, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

3 Assistant Professor of American Studies, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.



Once treated like a pariah in the realm of literary criticism, the genre of travel writing becomes a legitimate object of critical inquiry after Said’s Orientalism in which he critically examines French and English travel books written in the context of colonialism. Similarly, this article embarks on reading Alexander Burnes’ Travels into Bokhara in the light of Orientalism. The travelogue recounts Burnes’ journey to Afghanistan and Turkistan during the Great Game. Instead of extracting and interpreting orientalist tropes in Burnes’ travel book, the present article seeks to study its antinarrative components: those statements and praxis which are inconsistent with Orientalism’s policing and regulatory norms. It contends that the travel writer exhibits his disenchantment with orientalist vision in three ways. Firstly, through recoiling from reiterating the trope of the alleged ‘Oriental’ despotism. Secondly, via unsettling the trope of the ‘monarch of all I survey’, and finally, by demonstrating cultural receptivity towards indigenous people and their Islamic culture.


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