The Iconography of the Thousand and One Nights and Modernism: From Text to Image


  • Richard van Leeuwen


Mots-clés :

Duizend-en-één-nacht, Illustrations, Modernism, Orientalism, Dulac


Whereas in the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century the Thousand and one Nights contributed relatively little to the European iconography of Orientalism, at the end of the nineteenth century the number of illustrated translations, anthologies and reworkings increased, due to improved printing techniques and the gradual amalgamation of Orientalist and modernist trends in art. A new imagery was developed that not only incorporated visions of the Orient, but Oriental aesthetics as well, thus integrating Oriental styles into modernist art. This development is illustrated by the example of Edmund Dulac, one of the most prominent illustrators of the Nights. Moreover, the convergence of these trends resulted in a more autonomous function of the imagery of the Thousand and one Nights: it was no longer subservient to the narrative, but rather came to dominate the perception of the stories.

Biographie de l'auteur-e

Richard van Leeuwen

Richard van Leeuwen (PhD University of Amsterdam 1992) is currently lecturer of Islamic Studies at the Department of Religious Studies of the University of Amsterdam. His research fields are modern Islam, Middle Eastern history and Arabic literature. His publications include: The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia (with U. Marzolph), 2 vols., Santa Barbara, ABC-Clio, 2004; The Thousand and one Nights; Space, Travel and Transformation, London etc., Routledge, 2007; (translation:) De Vertellingen van Duizend-en-één-Nacht, 14 vols., Amsterdam, Bulaaq, 1992-1999.




Comment citer

van Leeuwen, R. (2010) « The Iconography of the Thousand and One Nights and Modernism: From Text to Image », RELIEF - Revue électronique de littérature française, 4(2), p. 213-236. doi: 10.18352/relief.546.



II. Nouvelles fonctions de l’illustration pendant le long XIXe siècle