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Caterina Nosdeo

Scènes de la vie turque (1849 – 1854): The Orient of Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso


In the 19th century Princess Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso, writer and journalist (Milan 1808-1871) was one of the first Italian women, among several European women, to set out on a journey on her own through the Orient. Actively involved in the revolutionary uprising against the Austrian domination in Italy, she had spent most of her life in a voluntary exile in Europe (mostly in Paris) but from 1849 to 1854 she settled down in Turkey. Her oriental experience generated three novels in form of Scènes de la vie turque (Emina; Un prince Kurde; Les deux femmes d’Ismail-Bey, Paris, Michel Lévy, 1858), as well as very original travelogues (e.g. Asie Mineure et Syrie. Souvenirs de voyages, Paris, Michel Lévy, 1858).

The paper aims to study the writings issued from the transnational contacts of the author, especially focusing on the gendered perspective of the narration, to which Trivulzio constantly and consciously paid attention in her writings resulting thus in a major interpretive key to her perception of the oriental culture (as she explicitly states for instance in her essay La vie intime et la vie nomade en Orient, souvenirs de voyage, chap. I: Angora et Césarée les Harems les Patriarches et les Derviches (Revue des Deux Mondes of 1855). Through the analysis of Trivulzio’s representations of the oriental women in comparison with those of British women writers, the paper will provide an insight into an exceptional case study, showing which literary and cultural models were at work in this transnational and women-centered fiction and comparing them to the patriarchal pattern of the orientalism described by Said.

Ask, September 2012

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