The Arabian Lovers, A Tale.
Author: [Claude Savary]
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication Year: 1804
Book Dimensions: 11 cm x 17.7 cm
Pages: approximately 45 pages
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .E575
This chapbook, sometimes published with The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina, was originally in Arabic, translated into English and French by Claude Savary, and describes the story of heartbreak and reunion between Ouardi and Anas-Eloujoud.
The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale is a collection of two Gothic stories grouped together, referred to as The Magician and Arabian Lovers at the tops of the pages of the respective stories. From the outside, the book has a marbled, brown leather binding. This marble effect was a common trend for binding books, in which a weak acid would be used to create the marbled appearance. There are no prominent illustrations on the front or back, but the spine of the book is decorated in gold-leaf illustrations of wreaths and flowers as well as some gold-leaf horizontal, separating the illustrations and symbols. On the spine, the book is referred to as The Entertainer and the number three, potentially indicating the volume or edition number. Also, the edges of the pages are speckled with blue ink. This is the result of a book decoration method in which the speckles would be hand-painted onto the edges of the paper. The book is roughly 11 centimeters wide, 17.7 centimeters long, and 2.2 centimeters thick.
Inside the book, there are five other stories, printed with different fonts and margins than The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The book starts with The Magician and Arabian Lovers, followed by the five additional stories. Each of the stories also restarts the page numbering instead of a continuous numbering throughout all of the stories. Some of the stories have frontispieces with illustrations, although The Magician and Arabian Lovers does not. There is even a frontispiece in hand-painted color for one of the stories, although the rest of the frontispieces are black-and-white. This suggests that the book was a collection of different chapbooks, a common practice at the time. The pages of the book are speckled with small grey bits of paper and yellowed with age. Overall, the pages feel worn and delicate, with the paper being thin enough to see through to the back of the page. Arabian Lovers take up around 45 pages of the overall book, which is roughly 290 pages. There are also some marks of ownership inside the book, including a handwritten table of contents in the front in what appears to be Michael Sadleir’s handwriting. The table lists the stories inside the book, along with publication years and potential author names, but those are unclear.
Focusing specifically on Arabian Lovers, the font and margins are consistent across text. The bottom margin is wider than the top, with a fair amount of white space around the main text on each page. In terms of spacing, the words are on the tighter side and the font is also a moderate size. There is a half-title page for The Magician before the full-title page which contains the complete title for both The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The half-title page and full-title page are formatted differently, with different line breaks in the title and fonts.There is no author printed on the full-title page, however, the title page does list the publication location and year, 1804.
Overall, the book itself externally appears to have a relatively nice, higher quality binding and attention to detail on the outside, as seen by the marbled leather and speckled pages. Inside the book, the quality of the paper feels cheaper and worn with time. The book is also inconsistent with its formatting throughout the different stories, so at one point the stories may have been separated.
Arabian Lovers had its origins sometime during or before 1789, when it was first mentioned and summarized in The Literary Magazine (“Les Amours” 449). The tale was originally in Arabic, although it was translated into French by Claude Savary, sometimes referred to as Mr. Savary, from an Arabic manuscript (“Les Amours” 449; Kennedy 62). As a result, the story has been published under multiple names such as The Loves of Anas-Eloujoud and Ouardi and The Loves of Anas-Eloujoud and Ouardi, an Arabian Tale along with the original French name prior to the 1804 title in The Entertainer (Brown 4; Elegant Tales 7; “Les Amours” 449). Savary is not credited in the version of the story found in The Entertainer. It is also unclear at which point the story was translated into English, but Savary is credited for doing so in The Looking-glass, another collection of stories from 1794(Brown 4, 46).Savary died either young or unexpectedly, as his death is denoted as “premature” before he could finish translating the stories he had acquired in his travels, but he was able to finish Arabian Lovers (“Les Amours” 453). Given the timing and his travels, Savary is likely Claude-Etienne Savary, “a French Orientalist who traveled to Egypt in 1776” who lived from 1750–1788 (Kudsieh 46). In The Literary Magazine, Savary’s translation of Arabian Lovers is applauded for his authentic translation “of oriental manners” (“Les Amours” 449). Savary’s death also seemed to sadden the publishers, suggesting that his work was well-respected and credited in some literary communities (“Les Amours” 453). Another note lamenting his death and inability to finish translating stories can be found in Elegant Tales (264).
As the title The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale suggests, the two stories were originally published separately in the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are two versions of the publication at the University of Virginia library, one of which is simply the two stories in a small chapbook. The other version (described above) is in a collection of other stories in a book named The Entertainer. Both versions at University of Virginia are from 1804. Around the world, the two stories are published together in chapbooks owned by multiple libraries, with versions appearing from 1803 and 1804.
While it is unclear exactly at which point the two stories were first published together, the Minerva Press certainly did so in 1804, which is the year printed on the copy in the University of Virginia’s edition of The Entertainer. The Minerva Press was an extremely popular Gothic publishing company created by William Lane (Potter 15). Not only did Lane’s company publish Gothic literature, but they also had circulating commercial libraries, which helped boost the popularity of Gothic texts (Potter 15; Engar). However, these libraries were still not affordable to the poorest demographics, although they certainly made the Gothic more accessible to the general population (Potter 15). The Minerva Press was often criticized for the cheap quality of its publications and “lack of literary excellence” (Engar). Books printed at the Minerva Press were made using cheap, flimsy materials and sometimes contained errors. Furthermore, publications from the Minerva Press were often re-bound by others (Engar).
There does not seem to be a significant presence in modern academic scholarship of Arabian Lovers. Considering that the stories were published by the Minerva Press, this could be due to the lower quality production and the company’s reputation (Engar). There are, however, copies of Arabian Lovers available for sale online. One paperback version lists the story together with The Magician using the same title as The Entertainer does, with no authors listed. This version is sold on Amazon and was printed in 2010, although the description of the book does note that it “is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.” Another paperback version sold online is of Arabian Lovers in French, printed in 2012, and also available on Amazon. In the French version, the description credits Claude Savary as the author and lists the original publication year as 1799. There are digital versions of archival copies of The Magician and Arabian Lovers as a paired story from 1803available online, found on Google Books.
Narrative Point of View
Arabian Lovers begins with a first-person narrator, although it is unclear who the narrator is as they never appear in the plot. For the rest of the story, the narrator occasionally references themselves in the first-person, although this happens very rarely. In the self-references, the narrator also calls the story a song. The rest of the story functions more in a third-person narration style, with the narration often focusing on the various characters’ feelings and thoughts. During these moments, the narration becomes more extravagant or abrupt according to what the characters are thinking and experiencing. The narration also features plenty of dialogue, which uses more archaic and grandiose language. Additionally, the narrator tends to provide many descriptions of the surroundings, especially scenes of nature or luxury like the castles. In these descriptions, the narrative style is more embellished and uses longer sentences, similar to the feeling of the dialogue.
The daughter of the Visier, the beautiful Ouardi, is about to appear in my song. With secret emotion she had beheld this illustrious youth as he passed along; already had swift-winged Fame proclaimed his success; she ran to her window to witness his glorious return. Innumerable torches lighted his triumphal march. The conqueror was accompanied by two thousand Mamalukes, skilled in the use of the bow. Mounted on the courser of the Sultan, he rode in the midst of the troops, and his towering head appeared above them all. His turban was decorated with a green bough, the signal of victory. Ouardi saw him in the flower of youth, and crowned with glory. She felt the first symptoms of a rising passion, which robbed her of her rest: for the first time she ex-perienced desires, and her heart, by an irresistible impulse, flew towards Anas-Eloujoud. In the contemplation of his grace, his beauty, and his noble deportment, she inhaled the insidious poison of love. Confused and agitated, she wishes to turn her eyes from this fascinating object, but in vain: they immediately return, to fix on her conqueror with redoubled eagerness. The bright colour of his cheeks, the clearness of his complexion, the equal curves of his black eyebrows, the fire of his eyes, alternately attract her admiration, and tempt her to exclaim – “Happy the woman whom fate has destined to thee, who shall pass the days by thy side, or in thine arms. Alas! I love thee: may thy heart burn with an equal flame!” (35)
The third-person narration allows for exploration of both the characters’ emotions and additional details about the setting and the society. The narrator clearly acknowledges that they are, in fact, narrating by calling the story “my song.” At the very beginning, the narrator also acknowledges this song when introducing Anas-Eloujoud. These rare self-identifications create a sense of distance in the story by establishing that the narrator is not directly present in the plot and that the story and the characters are a part of a song. However, the rest of the story functions in more of a third-person narrative style like the rest of the passage, which helps to build the emotions through combinations of description and providing insight to the characters’ thoughts. The flowery descriptions emphasize how intense Ouardi’s feelings are for Anas-Eloujoud and vice versa. Her eyes “immediately return” to look at Anas-Eloujoud’s “cheeks,” “complexion,” “eyebrows,” and “eyes,” indicating how she is drawn to him, to the point where she is unable to control her gaze. Also, the focus on the luxury and power present in the surroundings shows how powerful Ouardi’s and Anas-Eloujoud’s connection is. Even in a crowd of “two thousand Mamalukes,” Ouardi immediately spots her future lover. Throughout the text, the narration often contrasts the two lovers’ feelings with their environment. Despite being continuously surrounded by opulent and stunning settings, Ouardi’s heart and thoughts belong only with Anas-Eloujoud. The added distance from the characters created by the narrator’s self-acknowledgement, combined with this contrast, creates a sense of the star-crossed nature of their love through their inexplicable attraction to each other.
Anas-eloujoud is introduced as a beautiful, graceful, and intelligent hero, loved by everyone. Even the Sultan of the Persian kingdom Ispahan, later revealed to be named Chamier, strongly favors him as a cup-bearer and commander. On the anniversary of the Sultan’s crowning, Anas-eloujoud participates in combat and horse-racing, outperforming everyone. The daughter of the Sultan’s Visier, a prominent official, sees Anas-eloujoud and falls in love for the first time. The girl, Ouardi, goes home and asks her governess to bring Anas-eloujoud a love letter. Once he reads the letter, he falls in love with Ouardi and sends the governess back with his own love letter, which excites Ouardi. The governess acts as a messenger and is eventually caught by the Visier, Ibrahim, on her way to deliver another letter. Ibrahim is furious at Ouardi, ready to kill her to avoid dishonor. His wife, however, suggests that they exile her to Solitary Island, to which he agrees. Ibrahim accompanies Ouardi on a ship to the island and shows her around the palace’s many luxuries. To avoid suspicion, the Visier hurries back to Persia.
Back in Persia, Anas-eloujoud is heartsick over not hearing back from Ouardi. He eventually finds a message she left and realizes she has been exiled so he decides to try to find her, but fails for three years. As he stumbles around, he finds a cave and desperately asks if anyone has seen his beautiful love. An old man invites him into the cave and they speak about the old man’s life, who lost everything by falling in love with a slave. Once Anas-eloujoud tells his own story, the old man gives him directions to Solitary Island. He then travels to a river and finds someone to take him to the island, although they are thrown overboard by a storm. After struggling in the rough waters, Anas-eloujoud reaches shore and falls asleep.
Meanwhile on the island, Ouardi has spent the past three years in heartsickness, with no amount of material comfort alleviating her grief. Eventually, she decides to escape when she realizes that Anas-eloujoud cannot find her. When she’s alone in the forest, she finds a fisherman and escapes on his boat. She lands in Bagdad and is received by Diwan, Bagdad’s Sultan. Ouardi tells him about her father, Ibrahim, and Ispahan’s Sultan, Chamier. Once Ouardi tells Diwan that the only thing that can make her happy is seeing Anas-eloujoud, Diwan sends his own Visier to Chamier to ask for Anas-eloujoud to be sent to Bagdad on Ouardi’s behalf. On Solitary Island, Anas-eloujoud wakes up and enters the castle, only to find out Ouardi just escaped.
Once Diwan’s Visier reaches Ispahan, they find out Anas-eloujoud disappeared three years ago. Since Ouardi is Ibrahim’s daughter, Chamier threatens Ibrahim to find him. When this news reaches Ouardi, she feels intense worry for both her father and her lover. Ibrahim sets sail for Solitary Island, trying to figure out how his daughter escaped, only to bump into Anas-eloujoud. While Ibrahim is initially angry, he calms down once Anas-eloujoud professes his love for Ouardi. They return to Ispahan, where they expect Chamier to bless the marriage, even going as far as sending word to Ouardi that they will be united soon. However, the jealous court officials spread rumors that Anas-eloujoud and Ibrahim are actually working against Chamier to usurp him, so Chamier orders for the both of them to be arrested.
When a month has passed with no word from her father or Anas-eloujoud, Ouardi sends someone to Ispahan to investigate. When they hear about the arrest, Diwan takes his armies toward Ispahan, conquering lands on the way. Although Diwan offers to relinquish his conquered lands back to Chamier if Anas-eloujoud and Ibrahim are released, his messenger is killed, sparking a fierce battle between the two Sultans and their armies. As the battle wears on, it seems like Diwan is doomed to lose when suddenly Anas-eloujoud, accompanied by the soldiers he used to command, rides into battle, defeating many of Ispahan’s soldiers. The tide changes as Bagdad’s forces beat Ispahan’s, with Chamier barely escaping.
After this victory, Anas-eloujoud, Diwan, and Ibrahim return to Bagdad, where Ouardi has a tearful reunion with her family. Diwan reveals that he is appointing Ibrahim to be his second Visier, Anas-eloujoud to be commander of his armies, and blesses Ouardi and Anas-eloujoud’s marriage before leaving. Ouardi and Anas-eoujoud plan to get married the next day, so Ouardi undergoes a ceremony to prepare her for marriage, briefly feeling nervous and insecure about her worth to Anas-eloujoud. Once the ceremony is over, Diwan presents Ouardi to Anas-eloujoud as a bride. Overwhelmed by their happiness, Ouardi faints and is revived by a kiss. Diwan leaves, secretly jealous of Anas-eloujoud, but happy to see them together. The lovers spend the rest of their lives together happily and the story ends by revealing that their heirs eventually become the rulers of Ispahan.
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The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale. Printed at the Minerva Press, for Lane and Newman, 1804.
Researcher: Jennifer Li