Document Type



Bachelor of Arts in English


Deborah A. Robinson,Ph. D.


Released in 1840 and 1885 respectively, the English translations of The Arabian Nights by Edward Lane and Sir Richard Francis Burton reflect the Western ideological perception of the Orient as a foreign and incomprehensible locale, one made all the more charming by its dependence on Europe for moral, social, and economic support and guidance. Lane’s pseudoethnographic text focuses on explicating Oriental culture through extensive footnotes and culturally subjective annotations; Burton’s seeks to emphasize the magical and exotic nature of the Orient, through the use of hypersexualization and ornamental language. Although the translations appear at first to be very different, an analysis of “The Porter and the Three Ladies“ reveals that both translations defamiliarize their subject and ultimately succeed in the Othering of Oriental culture as a whole. This defamiliarization allowed for the historical dehumanization of Orientals, creating a self-perpetuating relationship between Western observation of Arab culture and Western military imperialism.