The West Meets the East: A Study of Jason Elliot’s Mirrors of the Unseen
Travel writing, as a literary genre has a special place in the history of English literature. Among the many travelogues written about Persia, Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran (2006) by Jason Elliot is an outstanding one. In documenting the history, culture and civilization of the people it follows a different approach. The present research is going to depict the differences and affinities in Elliot’s writings and objectives to other travel writers’ objectives in travelling to Persia and presenting this country. In Mirrors of the Unseen, architecture plays an important role through which the possibility of understanding the ‘Other’ and the ‘Self’ are matched with each another. The method Elliot follows to understand the nations is through their narrations embodied in their architecture, which narrate the nation’s past and present history, desires and motives. Reaching this job, one of Elliot’s objectives is to find the origin and character of Islamic architecture. In doing so, in addition to studying architecture, he makes a bridge between East and West by comparing and contrasting different signs and symbols hence approving or contrasting his pre-knowledge. In dealing with architecture signs and objects Elliot appears as a Barthesian critic avante la letter, whose focus is on the underlying meanings behind each sign and who decodes them based on his insight. Relating to this objective, I am concerned with showing Elliot’s aesthetic reflection and analysis of Persian architecture. Through these personal discoveries and explorations Elliot follows the tradition of modern travel wiring started with Byron and creates a turning point in the history of travel writing of the East.
Key words: Travel Writing; Architecture; Persia; Self and Other
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