Aravamudan, Srinivas, 1995. ‘Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in the Hammam: Masquerade, Womanliness, and Levantinization’. ELH, Vol. 62/1


Forth rush the Levant and the Ponent Windes.
-Milton, Paradise Lost (10.704)

Based on a journey to the Ottoman Empire undertaken during the years 1716-18, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's travel letters were first published in their entirety in 1763. The author had died the previous year. Montagu's stay at Constantinople with her husband Edward Wortley who had been appointed Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, provides the central focus of the travel letters. But as her reflections range widely across the culture and geography of the Eastern Mediterranean, a more inclusive title seems appropriate. Amongst various titles given to this collection by editors over the ages, I find that given by J. A. St. John in 1838, Letters from the Levant, During the Embassy to Constantinople, 1716-18, more suggestive than The Turkish Embassy Letters.'

"Levant" broadly signifies the Orient (more precisely the Eastern Mediterranean) and its exotic appeal for Europe as the land of the rising sun. On the other hand, "levantinization" is the term islamophobes have sometimes used for the cultural contamination of European values by supposedly degenerate Levantine influences. However, it will be my claim that levantinization is both an investigative tool and a utopian projection of Montagu's that anticipates a positive cultural outcome. Letters from the Levant inaugurates a phantasmatic partial identification with Turkish aristocratic womanhood. The specific fantasy, in this case, is not so much the activity of an already-existing subject, as the performative dispersion of the subject into several identificatory positions. The subject inhabits the position of both desiring subject and object, thereby reconfiguring itself.2

Additionally, a title such as Letters from the Levant enables a parallel reading of several calculated intellectual wagers made through


the subject’s identificatory dispersal. Montagu places and then hedges her cultural bets in a manner that could be reminiscent of eighteenth-century gamesters who "ran a levant, or "threw a levant." To run or throw a levant was to make a bet with the intention of absconding if it was lost.-' My reading suggests that the aristocratic Montagu uses her ample intellectual "credit" for the purposes of an utopian levantinization. The objective of Montagu's highly speculative intellectual wagers is the task of crosscultural apprehension. By interpreting Montagu's Levantine writings according to a trope that suggests intellectual wagering without accountability, I hope to connect levantinization to the larger processes of dynamic interaction between colonialist and anticolonial figuration that I call tropicalization. 4

Montagu's embellished letters, purportedly written on @everal occasions to historical individuals such as Lady Mar, Alexander Pope, the Abb6 Conti, and other addressees, synthesize the writer's personal interests with the broader appeal of intellectual commentary. The empiricist epistemology of the traveler interacts with the revisionary and relativist "feminism" of the woman-scholar; the neoclassical antiquarianism of the humanist intersects with remarks on early eighteentb-century fashion from a society lady. One of the primary experiences of the Levant for Montagu came through sustained interactions with the aristocratic women of the Ottoman empire within their sexually segregated milieu. These women's pleasing alterity and seemingly unfettered agency are inferred by Montagu from their spatial autonomy. She interprets the aristocratic women she meets as already free rather than waiting for emancipation like their European counterparts. Therefore, Montagu's guarantee of epistemological veracity is complicated by several risky rhetorical wagers. This complication can be explained by recognizing, as Cynthia Lowenthal points out, that Montagu drew her epistolary models of female experience from the performance-oriented context of the theater rather than the newer bourgeois discourse of female domesticity legitimated by the novel.5

This article concentrates on three interlocking stages that structure the interaction between the epistemological and the rhetorical modes in Letters from the Levant. In the first and most easily identifiable step, Montagu visualizes a secular anthropologizing stance towards cultures, similar to many other post-Renaissance appreciations of the arbitrary norms that undergird cultural meaning and identity. Such a perception replaces the existing bias of a simple


Montagu in the Hammam

ethnocentricism in favor of the observer's culture with an eclectic relativism. This phenomenon corresponds to the observer's experience of cultural separation or alienation. Montagu's heuristic levantinizations occasionally unsettle the norms of travel narrative, as her perceptions often problematize the positional fixities of the supererogatory ethnographer and the grounded native. The second stage concerns the observer's figurative idealization of putatively desirable characteristics from the ' observed cultural phenomena. This rhetorical idealization that threatens to transform the observer can be called the anthropological moment of liminality.6 The eclectic relativism of the first stage is abandoned for that of (a fantasy of) assimilation to the other, a process that can variously be rendered as 11 going native," "passing," or "levantinization"-different names for the transformation of identity that occurs when an individual from one culture is psychically and physiologically absorbed into another. The phantasmatic and partial nature of identification should itself suggest that "levantinization" is a function of several related psychological intensities rather than any single qualitative factor that can determine its identificatory effectivity.

In any case, this second stage of liminal identification, developed from an interrogative first phase, proves transitory for Montagu, as a full-fledged cultural passage or romance metamorphosis does not take place, and especially does not in the famous bathhouse scene that will be my focus here. The honorary subjectivity in the guest culture is temporally circumscribed, and there are implicit anxieties and criticisms that do not disappear as a result of this partial identification. Consequently, the observer undergoes a third phase that can be described as a postliminal mode of reaggregation, a romance manqu6 that synthesizes a banal return home rather than a magical metamorphosis. Antiquarian classicism comes to Montagu's rescue as a compromise ideological formation that converts the focus from current identities to past ones, and displaces politics back into history.

Montagu's ambivalence about the masquerade of feminine identification is strikingly reminiscent of Joan Riviere's assertion that 11 womanliness [ ] could be assumed and worn as a mask, both to hide the possession of masculinity and to avert the reprisals expected if she [the analysand] was found to possess it." Montagu's self-positioning as a female author competing with male predecessors resembles Riviere's original concept of womanliness as masquerade. Derived from a bisexuality complex, this Kleinian formulation has been


Srinivas Aravamudan

frequently generalized in a freefloating fashion by post-Lacanian psychoanalytical feminists, who partly overlook the involvement of atavistic racist fantasies with more modern professionalist contexts in the original analysand's psychic structure. Riviere characterizes her analysand's masquerade as "the 'double-action' of an obsessive act" that involves the fantasy of aggression and deference to two kinds of threats: academic father-figures in the real world and phantasmatic negro" attackers in the imagined one . Montagu's racial typing of the North African women she meets, juxtaposed with the preprofessionalized rivalries with travel writers that inflect her views on Turkish women that I will discuss, similarly bring out the "doubleaction" of her obsessive authorial masquerade. Riviere compares the disingenuousness of the masquerading woman to "a thief who will turn out his pockets and ask to be searched to prove that he has not the stolen goods." We will see that Montagu's actions in t@@ hammam, policing herself scrupulously, even as she titillates her male readers, suggest such a conscious disavowal. In what follows, I will concen trate on the implications of Montagu's levantinization of Ottoman aristocratic womanhood and her multiple uses of masquerade, and conclude with some remarks about classicist recuperation, which I interpret as symbolic inoculation.


Montagu's cultural remarks creatively amalgamate several longstanding literary traditions of Western travel narrative. Her travel letters are affiliated to generic precursors that initiated the imaginative geography of orientalism and defined the cultural and political challenge represented by Islam since late antiquity. Working within the multiple prose genres of ethnography, aesthetic criticism, and personal memoirs, Montagu reflects on a variety of cultural topics and geographical locations. Letters - from the Levant can be appreciated as an abbreviated sample of European ideological registers that refer to proximate regions such as the Balkans, Asia Minor, and North Africa.

As Montagu builds up to her arrival in Turkey following a stately progress across the Continent, her eclectic modes of cultural perception evolve as her itinerary unfolds. Montagu commences Letters f,rom the Levant with the familiar moral didacticism of some travel narratives, remarking on the cleanliness and industriousness of Dutch maids, and the general affluence and civic orderliness of Rotterdam, the Hague, and Nimeguen (248-52). Such salutary les-


Montagu in the Hammam

sons for the English are tempered by the critical scepticism with which she treats the Catholic relics she sees in Cologne and Vienna, and in keeping with her whiggish sympathies, the descriptions of the advantages of republican principalities in Germany over those run by absolutist monarchs (L, 254-55). Montagu remarks upon cultural differences, as all travelers do; at the same time, she contests the normative masculine vision of her Western predecessors, noticing different phenomena, and correcting previous misrepresentations from her perspective as a woman. Montagu reshapes the genre of early travel narrative as a vehicle that simultaneously signals "romance," "science," and "satire"; aspects of "Behn," "Defoe," and "Swift" adhere to the epistemological positions she takes.'
A self-conscious and sceptical practitioner of the genre of travelogue, Montagu deplores the biased and inconsistent expectations of its readership:

We Travellers are in very hard circumstances. If we sav nothing but what has been said before us, we are dull and'we hav@e observ'd nothing. If we tell any thing new, we are laujzh'd at as fabulous and Romantic, not allowing for the difference of ranks, which afford difference of company, more Curiosity, or the changes of customs that happen every 20 year in every Country. But yeople judge of Travefl@rs exactly with the same Candour, good Nature, and im@ artiallity, they judge of their Neighbours upon all Occasions. (L 385)

Travel writing is obliged to produce novelty, but also expected to fulfill pre-existing stereotypes. Just as people interpret anything done by their neighbors with the lame cynicism of overdetermined and stubborn prejudices, travel writing is often compelled to produce the same difference. In the above passage to her sister Lady Mar, Montagu is exasperated at the calcified expectations of readers who refuse to acknowledge historical change elsewhere and delude themselves into thinking that their kneejerk reactions are signs of sensitivity.

Such a critical edge is typical of Montagu's discourse. The empiricist impetus behind her world-view is accompanied by a strong scepticist commitment to demystification. Furthermore, she carefully circumscribes her empiricism within its own subjectivist and gendered limits, foregrounding those limitations as a badge of honor that enhances her credibility. The willing adoption of her gendered identity emphasizes her empirical reliability over against the normative masculine voice: she sees her analysis as rising "out of a true

Srinivas Aravamudan


female spirit of Contradiction, to tell you the falsehood of a great part of what you find in authors" (L, 405). Montagu claims to possess anthropological skills of cultural decipherment far superior to those of her predecessors.

In this confident vein, Montagu often casually reveals an excellent grasp of the already extant travel writing in French and English on Turkey. She could, if she wanted, "with little trouble, turn over Knolles and Sir Paul Rycaut to give you a list of Turkish Emperours' (L, 405). 10 However, she is more inclined to demystify others' errors. Montagu will sneer at descriptions of Turkey that come from ignorant merchants and travelers who

.ck up some confus'd informations which are generally false, and P'

thev can give no better an Account of the ways here than a French re 6e lodging in a Garret in Greek street, could write of the Court@UpEngland. (L, 316)

She is especially scathing about the unmerited success of Aaron Hill's book on Turkey, sardonically dismissing his information as "reveal'd to him in Vision during his wonderfull stay in the Egyptian Catacombs" (406)." In the same vein, Montagu uses her high-placed informant, Sultana Hafise, to refute the fabulous but persistent assertion perpetuated by many travelers that the Sultan selected an odalisque for the night by throwing a handkerchief at her (L, 383). Similarly, Montagu deplores the ignorance of a state-sponsored French traveler called Dumont, who mistakenly described the Greeks as chattel slaves rather than as political subjects of Ottoman rule (L, 12 368). The incompetence of previous writers on Turkey -all of them male-is a result of their lack of access to the information they pretend to have garnered, and their naive repetition of second-hand fantastical accounts received from unreliable informants. Montagu's criticisms are obviously intended to demonstrate her superior erudition, contemporaneity, and novelty. Along with the emphasis laid on this being a first-hand female account, it is not difficult to discern a healthy tone of oneupwomanship. 13

Montagu's early erudition-translating the Stoic philosophy of Epictetus's Enchiridion from the Latin version for Bishop Burnet of Salisbury, and writing a trenchant critique of Joseph Addison's Cato before its completion at Wortley's request-already gave her a significant profile in intellectual circles as an unpublished female Wit. 14 As Lisa Lowe suggests, Montagu's self-conscious protofeminism ought to be contextualized by the aristocratic signature that under-


Montagu in the Hammam

wrote her intellectual credentials. 15 She was a prominent member of a social class that was familiar with authorship, but even more familiar with patronage. By avoiding authorized publication altogether, Montagu escaped some of the notoriety suffered by many female authors in her time.

As women are underprivileged in a variety of cultures, but often in very different ways, Montagu's letters demonstrate the specialized codes by which women can express their subjectivity. Montagu's comments on the topics of dress, masking, carnival, or private language (such as the language of flowers) explore several crosscultural constructions of femininity. While womanhood is always the topic, the account of the peregrinations of the ambassadorial retinue en route to Constantinople also reveals a subtle methodological confrontation between objective realism and subjective impressionism. This central problem, frequently articulated in the quasianthropological mode of travel writing, develops incrementally as Montagu proceeds to the moment of greatest levantinization in the hammam. 16

Montagu's arrival at Vienna leads to the first of several complex responses on female attire. While she is impressed with the magnificence of the Imperial court culture, and critical of the drama, she is scandalized by the ridiculous court attire and the ugliness of the aristocratic women. These women's aesthetic infelicities are compounded by their libertinism. Apparently, most aristocratic Viennese women manage to retain both a husband and a publicly acknowledged lover amidst the persistence of archaic ideas of honor and genealogy (L, 273-74). Upon proceeding to Hanover, Montagu will find its German beauties "ressemble one another as much as Mrs. Salmon's court of Great Brittain, and are in as much danger of melting away by too near approaching the Fire" (L, 288). This calculated exaggeration of the artifice of Hanover's painted beauties evokes some famous London waxworks mentioned in The Spectator. 17 It is this artifice that impels Montagu's earlier comment on the arbitrary norms concerning feminine beauty as she moves from Vienna to Prague:

I have allready been visited by some of the most considerable Ladys whose Relations I knew at Vienna. They are dress'd after the Fashions there, as people at Exeter imitate those of London. That is, their Imitation is more excessive than the Original. and 'tis not easy to describe what extrodinary figures they make. The person is so much lost between Head dress and Petticoat, they

Srinivas Aravamudan


have as much occassion to write upon their backs, This is a Woman, for the information of Travellers, as ever sign post painter had to write, This is a bear. (L, 280-81)

Conventions of female beauty undergo a bizarre transmogrification when imitated at a distance. Translating across cultural codes, mapping Prague onto Exeter and Vienna onto London, Lady Mary is also alluding to a celebrated anecdote from The Tatler, and to yet another from Addison in The Spectator about the "daily Absurdities" resulting from the unstandardized arbitrariness of London shop

signs. 18 Even sympathetic imitation, when conducted from a distance, collapses into irresponsible and incongruous mimicry." How-ever, while Montagu's remark appears to chide these women, she never clarifies what alternative they might have. In her rush to condemnation, the narrator has herself resorted to caricature, thus momentarily transgressing the realist code she otherwise favors. Her mildly excessive response is consistent with the transgression of her own expectations concerning femininity. If we take her phrase at face value, the women she met were almost unrecognizable as women without denotative placards of designation, especially as she finds that "'tis not easy to describe what extrodinary [sic] figures they make" (L, 281). Her grammatical construction suspends the imaginary umbrella of a potentially excessive fictionality above the women's strange attire, much like a deictic signpost. Montagu's rhetoric here signals that more complicated feints concerning the excessive fictionality and potential veracity of gender-construction will develop as she proceeds.

The discovery of illimitability forms part of the inevitably selfauthenticating logic behind much travel writing. Montagu bears personal witness to a constantly shifting and transcendental cultural reality. The discourse of eye-witness self-authentication is nevertheless wedded to a radical scepticism for Montagu; the intention is to elicit the reader's belief in her more sophisticated and self-doubting reliability. Chiding an unnamed lady for her uninformed skepticism (unlike the informed interrogation to which she frequently implies she can sub ' ject the local culture) Montagu writes from Vienna about the temporary prohibition of masquerade in Viennese carnival:

You ma tell all the World in my Name that they are never so well inform'@ of my affairs as I am my selfe, and that I am very positive I am at this time at Vienna, where the Carnival is begun and all sort of diversions in perpetual practise except that of masqueing, which is never permitted during a War wit@ the Turks. (L, 291)


Montagu in the Hammam

In this epistolary tiff with an unnamed lady, Montagu insists on her self-consistent veracity as a categorical fact, flaunting its unverifiability by others. Even as Montagu celebrates the performative nature of the act of writing, drawing attention to her authorial powers, there is a wry implication that female travel writing is itself not very different from the context of carnival, encouraging "all sorts of diversions in perpetual practise." It is from the viewpoint of her female identity that Montagu wittily dismisses the suspicions of English high society, suspicions that she invites only in order to rhetorically vanquish.

The metafictional twist in the information proffered suggests a larger question by reversing terms. If there can still be a carnival without masquing, there can also be masquerade without the formal contexts of carnival. In other words, can the proscription of masquerade matter very much, especially when women are the chosen objects of a travel narrative written by a female author? Montagu's focus on the artifice of femininity suggests that antirealist practices can function quite freely whether or not masking has been banned. While a pessimistic reader may conclude that the proscription of masking in wartime has gutted carnival behavior of its essential attribute, a more careful one might pick up on the suggestion that masquerade exists in very many forms. I would argue that at moments such as these Montagu is hinting that empiricism is too blunt a tool to describe and analyze cultural constructions of femininity. The ground is being prepared for the subtler instrument of levantinization.

Montagu searches for the semantic building-blocks that can describe women, and their desires, within the cultures they inhabit. One of the letters she writes from Turkey celebrates her discovery of "the language of flowers," a means of secret communication between 20 lovers. In this private language,

There is no colour, no flower, no weed, no fruit, herb, pebble, or feather, that has not a verse belonging to it; and voti. may quarrel, reproach, or send Letters of passion, freindship sic, , or Civillity, or even of news, without ever inking your fingers. (L, 389)

One can detect an orientalism at work here, a sense that there is a cultural mystery to be unlocked. Montagu's intellectual fascination with this technique, known as the selam, suggests again the problem of artifice. An object-related system of signification that pivots around free association as the primary mode of grammatical compo- 21 sition indicates arbitrariness and subjectivism. Such a private sys

Siinivas Aravamudan


tem of communication cannot be comprehended through a naturalistically derived logic: the deciphering techniques are hit-and-miss@ when a code is based on rhyming free association that motivates grammar, not according to a rule-bound lexicon, but according to the desires and moods of the participants. While the code coincidentally resembles Cockney slang, its objectives are romantically rather than commercially oriented. 22

The phenomenon of masquerade is again at stake here. This erotic practice of using psychic mechanisms such as rebuses (perhaps the rudiments of a proto-psychoanalysis centered on the genre of romance) has a rich tradition in Turkish erotic poetry. Its supposedly unmarked gender status could also masquerade, according to AnneMarie Moulin and Pierre Chuvin, as a crypto-lesbian mode of communication when circulating in the harem or the bathhouse. Montagu's quotation of the selam also combines with a poetic form known as mcina, used only between women. 23

When indulging in the citation of these erotic norms and conventions, Montagu addresses the same unnamed lady she will also write concerning the famous scene at the hammam. This unidentified correspondent appears as a fictive device of self-reflexivity on the letter-writer's part: "I have got for you, as you desire, a Turkish Loveletter, which I have put in a little Box" (L, 388). Such a formulation makes this erotic letter function ironically, as it is written to Montagu's unidentified correspondent in ostensible reply to a request for the secrets. A more fanciful reader may well hear the rumblings of aggression towards an unidentified rival, lesbian desire, autoeroticism, or even professional caution. This obvious mystification of the letter , s performative status means that the citation of the letter within the letter connotes more than it denotes. It involves an epistolary mask that takes the very trope of concealment as its unmasked meaning. In the context of a series of letters that are all addressed to identifiable correspondents "in the world," the single unidentified and mysterious addressee becomes a metafictional referent that collapses author, reader, and mode. The subject, Montagu, addresses her object, womanliness, through a mise en abime that reduces womanliness to masquerade. As in Fanny Bumey's diaries addressed to "Nobody," anonymity, fictionality, and realism concerning female interiority coincide. 21

Masquerade will come to be the "perpetual practise" that suggests a model of female subjectivity for Montagu, one that will come to be structurally related to a kind of freedom that suspends truth. It is this


Montagu in the Hammam

paradoxical truth, the permanent possibility of fiction, that Lady Mary will envisage Turkish women as possessing. The interplay between nudity and masking will fascinate her, especially because it will be seen as providing aristocratic Turkish women-and ought, she thinks, to provide all women-with an escape from social ties by means of negativity and anonymity.


Montagu is relatively unconcerned in her letters with the multiple constructions of masculinity, or with the long descriptions of Turkish street culture that some other authors provide. Rather, her desire for liminality impels her to describe the "secret" female interiors of the harem and the bathhouses In the course of this levantinization, she will reiterate the following distinctive belief. "Upon the Whole, I look upon the Turkish Women as the only free people in the Empire" (L, 329). Her gendered opinion on the topic refutes masculine predecessors such as Aaron Hill, whom she will attack for mouthing the conventional European condemnations of harem slavery:

Tis also very pleasant to observe how tenderly he and all his Brethren Voyage-writers lament the miserable confinement of the Turkish Ladys, who are (perhaps) freer than any Ladys in the universe, and are the only Women in the world that lead a life of unintterupted pleasure, exempt from cares, their whole time being spent in visiting, bathing, or the agreable Amusement of spending Money and inventing new fashi@ns. (L, 406)

Western observers often considered the Sultan's seraglio a statewithin-a-state, with special laws and freedoms. However, Montagu's view is remarkably different from the typical Christian propaganda that Islam denies women SOUIS.26 Montagu relies on the relativism of a character in an Aphra Behn play who forces others to modify their perceptions:

As to their [Turkish women's] Morality or good Conduct, I can say like Arlequin, 'tis ' just as 'tis with you, and the Turkish Ladys don't commit one Sin the less for not being Christians. Now I am a little acquainted with their ways, I cannot forbear admiring either the exemplary discretion or extreme Stupidity of all the-writers that have given accounts of 'em. 'Tis ve easy to see they have more Lib@rty than we have. (L, 327-28)1-17

Montagu perceives these women's liberties as arising from the
perpetual Masquerade" of the veil, which "gives them entire Lib-

Srinivas Aravamudan


erty of following their Inclinations without danger of Discovery" (L, 328). The idea of emancipatory female subjectivity commences with her celebrated letter on the nudity of the women in the bathhouses at Sophia, and is sustained throughout her stay in Turkey by the impressions she receives upon making courtesy calls to the residences of a few aristocratic Turkish women. The use of the veil in public, she thinks, enables a radical freedom from interpellation: "'Tis impossible for the most jealous Husband to know his Wife when he meets her, and no Man dare either touch or follow a Woman in the Street" (L, 328). According to her, these women are even magically exempt from the gradations of class within female identity: "You may guess how effectually this disguises them, that there is no distinguishing -the great Lady from her Slave" (L, 328). Montagu levantinizes female subjectivity existing without subjection, sexual agency occurring without concomitant object-status, and the seemingly generalized public privileges of women abiding with few corresponding obligations. This position structurally reverses the condemnation of the German beauties' empty artificiality I discussed in the previous section. The compulsory "disguise" that women wear in the primary public sphere, a restriction that keeps their participation within it to an unindividuated minimum, paradoxically enhances their unfettered psychological agency.

It is no surprise that the passage celebrating "perpetual Masquerade" is part of a letter written to Lady Mar in which Montagu writes proudly to her sister about the intimate details of her Turkish outfit and the honorary status she possesses as a result. Her portrait in lavish Turkish costume was subsequently painted by Charles Philips. By formally placing herself in this clothing, Montagu signals the fantasy elaboration of levantinization: "I am now in my Turkish habit, th6 I beleive you would be of my opinion that 'tis admirably becoming. I intend to send you my Picture; in the mean time accept of it here" (L, 326). Montagu proceeds to paint a pen portrait of herself in this fancy-dress identity. Wearing these clothes herself, she is full of praise for the Turkish aristocratic women she encounters. She visits the widow of the previous Grand Vizier, subsequently identified as Hafise Kadinefendi, and is suitably impressed by her continued mouming. Montagu is even more rapturous about the beauty of Fatima, "the Kahya's lady" (L, 349). "Fatima" may well be a composite fiction idealizing Turkish femininity, created with the explicit purpose of seducing the reader with levantinized accounts of Turkish womanhood and the fascination its costumes held for


Montagu in the Hammam

Montagu. Fatima is at peace despite her sequestration within a world of fountains and gardens, surrounded by impeccable female company. Montagu mentions meeting both these ladies on two separate occasions, and is obviously very taken with the dignity of Hafise's mourning and the reciprocal warmth -of Fatima's friendship (L, 38086). Turkish women's clothing obsesses her. However, her Western gaze that fetishizes Levantine clothing does not automatically occupy the position of the colonialist subject. As Joan Copjec suggests provocatively in her interpretation of the thousands of photographs of veiled women taken by G. G. de C16rambault, the photographer sometimes disavows lack by positioning himself as the gaze of the 28 Moroccan Other. Montagu's levantinization of Turkish clothing creates similarly heterogenous effects.

Idealized descriptions of meetings with beautiful people are fairly typical of eighteenth-century letters written with an eye to posthumous publication. However, the gossip such letters relay may suggest, if not explicitly contain, the sexual confessional flavor of diarists such as Pepys and Boswell. With the help of one remarkable scene, Montagu negotiates the revelation of women's interiors. The bathhouse letter to an unnamed lady, a minor prose classic that inspired several painters such as Ingres, comes to us riddled with feints concerning anonymity. In it, Montagu articulates a central paradox: aristocratic Turkish Muslim women are naked but not immodest, free but not licentious, languid but not unproductive. If the painter "Gervase" (jervas) could look upon the batb, it would have very much improv'd his art to see so many fine Women naked in different postures, some in conversation, some working, others drinking Coffee or sherbet, and many negligently lying on their Cushions while their slaves (generally pritty Girls of 17 or 18) were employ'd in braiding their hair in several Fritty manners. In short, tis the Women's coff6e house, where a I the news of the Town is told, Scandal invented, etc. (L, 314)

One can discern a fine balance in this passage between the containment of jervas's painterly masculine gaze and the subversion of the ongoing autonomous female activity, even if this activity is as seemingly innocuous as the relay of news and the invention of scandal. For Montagu, the bathhouse is the Turkish woman's riposte to the Englishman's coffee house. Englishwomen could not themselves come up with an alternative to the coffee house's resolutely masculine monopoly of sociopolitical space. The exclusively male preserve of the coffee houses has been identified by historians of

Srinivas Aravamudan


modernity as a vital innovation that created a public sphere of free political discussion that led to the invention of liberal democracy. This Turkish bagnio perhaps simulates the Habermasian sphere of the development of communicative freedom. The alternative Turkish women s public sphere possesses a hedonistic atmosphere within which slaves enable their mistresses' desultory enjoyment of quasierotic pleasures: "Braiding their [ladies'] hair in several pritty manners." Montagu visualizes an inclusive women's sphere at the bath, a gynaecium of unselfconscious but interactive female nudity that she may be contrasting implicitly with the exclusionary masculine preserve of the Greek gymnasium, whose masculine participants were also naked while demonstrating their athletic prowess. However, this women's world, is not devoted to the efficiency-oriented syntax of muscular masculinity, but the expanded time of productive leisure (witness the parataxis of the simultaneous activities: conversing, working, drinking, lying down, braiding).

Montagu's language mimics the traditional masculine gesture of voyeuristic penetration with the gaze, as does Ingres' famous tableau reminiscent of a keyhole voyeur, Le bain turc (1862), heavily influenced as it is by Montagu's account of the hammam. Montagu suggests that the total nudity of the women displaces the signs of their psychic readability from the face down to the entire body: "I was here convinc'd of the Truth of a Refflexion that I had often made, that if twas the fashion to go naked, the face would be hardly observ'd" (L, 314). And she observes that the heat had been bothering her, making it "impossible to stay there with one's Cloths on" (L, 313). Lady Mary nonetheless claims to remain doubly unreadable, demure in her "travelling Habit, which is a rideing dress" (L, 313). At this point, she has not yet reached Constantinople and acquired the new Turkish costume that she speaks of delightedly to Lady Mar.

Her demure behavior in the riding dress appears bizarre to her hosts. The narrator's overdressing does not easily undo the social conventions of hospitality that are already in force. No one is surprised at her deviance from the expected protocols: "There was not one of 'em that shew'd the least surprize or impertinent Curiosity, but receiv'd me with all the obliging civillity possible" (L, 313). This curiosity will soon take the form of solicitude.

The narrator in this letter is aware of her anomalous position even before she vicariously adopts "Jervas's" male gaze, an irony that many readers have missed. It must be remembered that by desisting from


Montagu in the Hammam

joining in the fun the narrator is also rndintaining her modesty for the English audience. At least she says that she did not join in, as such activity would compromise her identity as "Lady" Mary, who kept her title and maiden name, Montagu. It is at this moment, perhaps, when the English lady "decides" not to display her own nakedness to double scrutiny, that masquerade begins. A fictional parenthesis has opened: Lady Mary maintains that she has entered Turkey, and the bagnio itself, unchanged and fully dressed. The hammam visit at Sophia that formally marks her entry into Turkish utopian female space will be followed by a second visit to a bathhouse at Istanbul just before she leaves, making for an eventual closure of the parentheses. it is from this part of the Levant that Montagu composes her most assertive levantinization.

The bathhouse passage provides the reader with an interpretive option between the naivete of Montagu's English modesty and the false modesty it signifies in Turkish surroundings. A superficial and a subcutaneous reading of social convention diverge from one another. The narrator cannot think of any "European Court where the Ladys would have behav'd them selves in so polite a manner to a stranger" (L, 313). The inversion of the voyeuristic position becomes part of the tableau she sketches, and Montagu is immediately called to account by the objects of her gaze through an embarassing reverse fetishization:

The Lady that seem'd the most considerable amongst them entreated me to sit by her and would fain have undress'd me for the bath. I excus'd my selfe with some difficulty, they being all so earnest in perswading me. I was at last forc'd to open my skirt and shew them my stays, which satisfy'd 'em very well, for I saw they beleiv'd I was so lock'd up in that machine that it was not in my own power to open it, which contrivance they attributed to my Husband. (L, 314)"

There are several contrivances in this passage other than the one Montagu attributes to her husband. Lady Mary contrives not to be undressed for her English audience. In continuing to maintain herself in full dress, she appears both dignified and ridiculous, imprisoned by her own culture. She has pulled off a brilliant improvisation, successfully negotiating the Scylla of offending her Turkish hosts and the Charybdis of scandalizing her English readers. By banking on Turkish cultural misapprehension, she narrowly escapes the sacrifice of her English virtue. However, doubly bound as her body is by her lingerie, she is also in a fictional double bind.

Srinivas Aravamudan


She is masquerading in the same costume for two audiences simultaneously. For the Turkish women, her English stays are an infernal machine, a straitjacket imposed upon her by a jealous husband. She encourages the perception of this theatricalized cruelty, soliciting the concomitant commiseration she will receive from her hosts. Yet, she has exposed herself, ever so slightly, to the English gaze by revealing a glimpse of her underwear. The tantalizing unavailability of her straitjacketed body to the Turkish ladies is all too readable within this fictionalized scenario, providing a further contrast with the enigmatic and wide-open unreadability of the characters amidst their exultant freedom in the hammam. The focus shifts to her: she is the fetish for the female gaze at the bath, and for the mixed gaze back in England. Having represented the voyeuristic aspects of the scopophiliac complex, Montagu now takes a quick turn toward exhibitionism. Both the viewing Turks and the reading English are led on to fantasize medieval chastity belts on Montagu, if not quite whips, chains, and handcuffs. Sudaenly, it is Montagu who is the object of pity as well as of a phantasmagorical bondage scenario: her constraining clothing is misapprehended as her husband's handiwork. By extension, this constriction restricts access to her clothesbound body. However, the subtle effects of this masquerade rebound upon those who are taken in by it. For the English readers, the bondage scene will probably suggest itself as a fictional by-product of the steamy bathhouse atmosphere, and will then be readily associated with the English - pornographic fantasy concerning the oversexed Turkish milieu that confuses harem with hammam. In this sexual traffic, the autobiographer invents a script, plays a role, and peddles an effect, all the while silently disclaiming her moral liability. Montagu flaunts her virtue as the truth behind the imaginary mask of her chastity belt.

Perhaps it is not so remarkable a coincidence that during the same time, Alexander Pope's erotic focus on Montagu involves his imagining various long-distance liberties with underwear:

Let us be like modest people, who when they are close together keep all decorums, but if they step a little aside, or get to the other end of a room, can untie garters or take off Shifts without scruple.-"

Could the bathhouse letter-published much later-also be a complex response to the initial erotic attentions of Pope and his subsequent vilifications? Many of the misogynistic smears by Pope and Horace Walpole concerning the purported lack of physical cleanli-


Montagu in the Hammam

ness observed by Montagu could be coded attacks on her chastity following this minor Turkish escapade. 32

In her obsession with women's interiors, Montagu is not just opposing a domestic perspective to that of the Grand Tour, as Clare Brant points out, but countering the calculated masculine hedonism of the exercise with a female alternative that may, underneath it all, 33

be more satisfying for women. A naked Montagu would be sub jected as no ordinary woman to the strident charge of indecent exposure. Such a charge would in any case be leveled if she published anything, as Pope does in his polemic against her as Sappho. In this description of naked interiors, "Sapphism" will suggest itself, but in a very different way from the salacious discussion by previous male writers with overheated imaginations.@ Even as Montagu squelches the specter of lesbian eroticism-"There was not the least wanton smile or immodest gesture amongst them"some will believe that her equanimity sounds more like ladylike disavowal. Montagu's quotation of the selam technique that combines with a poetic form known as mina used only between women, discussed in the previous section, is nonetheless sug estive of lesbian possibilities.

The bathhouse letter conceals a challenge to its addressees even as it delivers it. Montagu's strategy consists of exposing a little in order to escape the possibility of exposing too much. By maintaining the several senses of constriction that uphold her identity, the European aristocratic woman is momentarily rendered the slave, while the object of her reflection, Turkish ladies of quality, are seen as completely unfettered. Female subjectivity is divided down the middle, revealing agency all on one side and subjection all on the other. It first seems that agency is all on the side of those who can remove their clothes, and the subjection on the side of she who cannot take them off. But the sexual trick makes the bound-over into the binder. Montagu has chosen to interpret herself in imaginary chains, having willingly chosen subjection over agency. She is allowing the Turkish women to come up with an interpretation of her own limitations, about which she may not want to complain so directly. Montagu's belief that the Turkish women have agency is . a levantinization, just as much as her choice to perform her own subjection is a conscious masquerade.

In the scene at the hammam, levantinization and masquerade go hand in glove. The richer Women sit on sofas and their slaves sit behind them. However, the women are "without any distinction of

Srinivas Aravamudan


,,nk by their dress, all being in the state of nature, that is, in plain English, stark naked, without any Beauty or deffect conceal'd" (L, 313). This ambiguous state of nature cannot be the Hobbesian one that Montagu highlights when discussing the wartime devastations of the Austrians and the Ottornans.36
Rather, it appears relapsarian.

The starkness of the object demands a plain @glish, Pwedded to a heavy-duty Biblical and epic forebear: "They Wa v'd with the sarne'm - Ik'd and moajestic Grace which Milton describes of Mother" (L, 313-14) .37 ur General

The exact proportions of these latter-day Eves remind Lady Mary of naked goddesses "drawn by the pencil of Guido or Titian," or even more conventionally for her eighteenthcentury eye, the well-coiffed "figures of the Graces." Despite the overlay of Christian iconography, this is not European court society.

Montagu finds "none ot those disdainful] smiles or satyric whispers I that never fail in our assemblys when any body appears that is not dress'd exactly in fashion" (L, 313). Of course, 'nudity in a hammam is tenuously related to the ephemeral notion of fashion; the concern here is with an eternal undress, the perdurability of,the classical female body rather than the historical variability of clothing.

There is a dreamlike quality to this perception of the hammam, one that will be repeated when, before she leaves, Montagu attends an epithalamium amongst the bathhouse women at Constantinople who welcome a young bride in their midst, giving her rich ifts even while maintaining their own nakedness. While strictly sexuagily segregated, the Turkish baths allowed women to bring with them preadolescent children of both sexes, who could thus participate in the general nudity and exchange of gazes. In a brilliant if somewhat idealized anthropological analysis of the history of Levantine Muslim sexuality, Abdel 'waha'b- Bouhdiba has argued that the baths provided a liminal space where the demarcation between public and private spheres was ritually suspended. Bouhdiba demonstrates the structural interplay of oppositions in the activity of the hammam, between hot and Coldwater, soft towels and hard scrubs, male and female schedules, dirt and cleanliness, purity and impurity, interiority and -exteriority, self and other, angels and demon's- In his analysis, the hammam becomes the privileged locus for the release of social and Political tensions, as well as the site where a certain Levantine unconscious is constructed. In addition to the inevitable developmental role the hammam would have.pla ed in a curiosity about nswering childhood the body, it also performed the quotidian function of ritual purification, as a propaedeutic, as well as a conclusion, to the


Montagu in the Hammam

business of love. The hammam was an antechamber to the mosque, thus becoming the transitional site between the carnal and the spiritual. The hammam thereby represents a parasexual space for the unfolding of sexuality, one that helped fix the meaning of sex more than sexual acts themselves. Architecturally labyrinthine the enclosed hammarm, unlike the open Roman balneae, served as'complex sites for the stagiig and regulation of sexual desire, as well as more generalized allegories for psychosexual interiors ithin Islamic cultures. The dreamscape of the bathhouse ma wsuggest a uterine memory of the mother-or the fi ure of "our Y General Mother," as Montagu formally states it. However, Montagu's own gesture converts the liminal communitarianism of the hammam into what Victor Turner characterizes as the "liminoid" genre of free tropological .39 lfh- appropriation typical of modern commodity culture is is a conversion that signals the advent of modernity a tual s mbolic space; and the rise of levantinization; the decline of ri nd cross-cultural the freefloating neoclassical cultural synthesis that Montagu will attempt.

There is a further tease in this overdetermined masquerade at the bath for informed readers, as very few of Montagu's English contemporaries would have apprehended the calculated sexu@l provocation of the entire episode. Bouhdiba informs us that in Turkish and Arabic, "going to the hammam" is a po ular euphemism for sexual intercourse .40 Consequently, the letter'frpom the bathhouse turns into one immense metaphor for the very thing it was tryinl, to skirt around: sexual impropriety. In shifting the traditional 'masculine European focus from the Turkish harem to the rather different hammam, Montagu emphasizes that it is not the sexual possession of

women that interests her (as it invariably interests male observers) but something we might anachronistically call the representation of women's sexual self-expression. The hammam, as one of the sites that allegorizes the unconscious, imbricates the public with the private, underwriting both. As the only quasi-public space where the Qu'ran cannot be recited, because of the ritual ' impurity of the bathers and their surroundings, the hainmam is already a liminal space for Levantine cultures. For Montagu, this space serves the additional function of a liminoid secular space much like the coffee house to which she compares it or, for that matter, like the developing eighteenth-century domain of "Literature-" The scene ends with the following paragraph:

Stinivas Aravamudan


Adeiu, Madam. I am sure I have now entertairid You with an Account of such a sight as you never saw in your Life and what no book of travells could info-rm you of 'Tis no less than Death for a Man to be found in one of th'ese places. (L, 315)

The narrator is instrumentalizing the encounter, marketing it aggressively for vicarious consumption. These are novelties that only a woman can sell: here we have phantasrnagorical desires titillated in the face of death, and natural beauty hawked in lieu of artifice. As a transitional figure, and a cultural translator, Montagu claims to have observed more than she has participated in, even as she tantalizes her readers with the taste of forbidden fruit. She has crossed and recrossed a ritual threshold, participated in a liminal situation. Yet, the power of her narrative is that of its liminoid extrapolation for herself and her readers.

The narrator enforces the closure of the fictional parentheses that opened with this episode by insisting on her En lish femininity kept apart from that of the Ottoman women. Ultimatgely, the English lady in Montagu cannot justify a crossover that involves undress. The narrator has nonetheless created an opening for the fantasy projections and partial identifications of levantinization. If this was not quite "a room of her own" when she entered the bathhouse, Montagu at least makes sure to emphasize that she went literally where "no Man" had gone before. She entered women's space as an honorary Turkish woman, even as she maintained her Englishness. Montagu has shown that, by enforcing sexual segregation, the masculine desire for exclusive possession has also ended up dispossessing itself. More importantly, the passages describing various female interiors are often written to the unnamed lady, a bla@nk addressee, or

a social equal, the Countess of Bristol, both' of whom may well be mirror-images of Montagu herself. The descriptions are memoranda

to herself, indicative of an autoeroticism that will be made fully public just after her death. Montagu wants to defer her self-exposure rather than deny it. She can p erish, and then publish. Trying to keep her clothes on in the sweltering atmosphere, Lady Mary calculatedly runs out of steam while still trying to undo her stays.
Some readers think that Montagu is locked in that infernal machine called orientalism. A@ I suggested earlier, however, she has run or thrown a levant in ttie manner of an eighteenth-century gamester. Montagu writes her travels from a place with no fixed address and makes sure to indicate that she is a visitor, ready to bolt or steal away. She may also be doing the equivalent of the Spanish


Montagu in the Hammam

"levantar la casal" breaking up housekeeping. Not a re ular herself, Montagu need not be, to continue the pun with a leggalistic eighteenth-century phrase, "levant and couchant" there. Unlike Colley Cibber's daughter Charlotte Charke, who dressed in male drag and fell afoul of her scandalized male peers, Montagu succeeded at an understated self-exposure by masquerading as herself. She has collapsed her self-exposure with those of the Turkish women she exposes; yet the negative exposure she feared in 1718 came about very differently, and positively in her favor, after the letters were published following her death in 1763, when she received a complimentary review from Smollett, having already received @rudging 41' admiration from even such enemies as Horace Walpole. Several decades after her trip, the lucidity of her stylistic masquerade could be said to have won the day, more than the substance of her assertions, or the threat of female authorship she represented.


While the bathhouse dreamscape spills over into Montagu's descriptions of the aristocratic women she meets, it is most likely the same female environment in which Montagu learned @he major medical innovation with which she is credited: popularizin the
technique of smallpox inoculation in England afier- ts
widespread use in Turkey. The bathhouse, as a site e
hygienic and aesthetic functions, was also a place wher ic
practices were carried out; it was common in that environment to

find female herbalists, magicians, and medical practitioners." Montagu reports in one of the letters that the disease is rendered entirel harmless by the invention of engraving . . . a set of old Women . . . make it their business to perform the Operation" (L, 338). After describing the process in detail, she claims to be "Patriot enough to take pains to bring this usefull invention into fashion in England" (L, 339). Montagu's own face had been scarred after a lifethreatening attack of smallpox in 1715, the year before leaving for Turkey. Her pioneering dissemination of this technique of inoculation occurred at considerable personal risk. Montagu inoculated her son, and subsequently her daughter, even while she was the object of antifeminist public polemics resulting from her sponsorship of the technique. Montagu convinced Queen Caroline, then Princess of Wales, to inoculate her daughters. At the initiative of the Princess, the strong resistance to this technique was countered by a public experiment in 1721, whereby six condemned prisoners at Newgate

Srinivas Aravamudan


were induced to undergo the inoculation by the promise of a reprieve if they survived.

As the one obvious practical benefit gained from her travels, the betterment of the health of English children through smallpox inoculation seems an anomalous by-product of Letters from the Levant. The technique was still dangerous as the inoculation was performed with a live culture rather than the safer innovation using a vaccine (which contains dead bacteria) popularized by Edward jenner in 1798. However, the travels themselves serve a cultural function that resembles, at a symbolic level, the homeopathic act of inoculation, one that stalls a disease by subjecting the body to a weaker version of it. Travel narrative, after flirting with cultural crossover, becomes a complicated acknowledgement of the superiority of the return home. Montagu's return with the actual technique of inoculation represents a masterstroke, since it coincidentally provides a symbolic model for English cultural retrenchment.
Roland Barthes defines symbolic inoculation as follows:

One immunizes the contents of the collective imagination by means of a small inoculation of acknowledged evir; one thus protects it against the risk of a generalized subversion.44

Montagu's act of deliberate cultural blinkering following a heady and disorienting experience denotes the narrator's resituation in cultural and social matrices, a resituation that Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner call "reaggregation." The liminoid act of travel that activates and celebrates differences will become Montagu's version of an "ordered antistructure" to the developing ideology of modernity.45 She will symbolically inoculate herself against the temptation of cultural passing. Witness the following comment in her penultimate letter of the series, addressed to the Abb,6 Conti, which shuts down the search for betterment by conscious reidentification with Englishness, despite the obvious deficiencies of such reaggregation:

And, after having seen part of Asia and Africa, and allmost made the tour of Europe, I thi@nk the honest English Squire more happ who verily beleives the Greek wines less delicious than Marc@ beer, that the African fruits have not so fine a flavour as golden Pipins, and the Becifiguas of Italy are not so well tasted as a rump of Beef, and that, in short, there is no perfect Enjoyment of this Life out of Old EnE[land. I pray God I may thin@ s@ for the rest of my Life; and since I must be contented with our scanty allowanc@ of Daylight, that I may forget the enlivening Sun of Constantinople. (L, 444)


Montagu in the Hammam

This symbolic inoculation against the temptation of an elsewhere is not wholly relevant to Montagu, who ended up spending a large part of her later years in Italy, returning to England just before she died. However, it is one more instance of the sophisticated textual outcome of Montagu's levantinized speculations and projections. A systematic practice of cultural perception, in the manner that I have sketched, does operate behind the desultory facade of Montagu's epistolary production.

Rather than pandering to a perpetual desire for novelty-something that can be witnessed-in the early eighteenth-century attitudes expressed in uninformed tourist literature-Montagu's travel writings reorient the reader toward her idea of a stable antiquarian classicism. Such a move, invested in the historiographical "re-turn" that Michel de Certeau has astutely analyzed as the reinvention of the past, circumscribes the very real limits of Montagu's own sense of 46 her attempt to reach, comprehend, and assimilate the other. The last third of her letters will increasingly highlight this wistful step backwards into a mythic past that may hold the possibility of reunification under the cultural rubric of a dead Roman and Greek civilization, rather than the immediate justifications of a burgeoning one under the British. In retrospect, it would be too easy to either accuse Montagu of an avoidance mechanism, or overstate the case in favor of her radical brilliance. But from the vantage of her own historical moment, her travels appear as a tentative ideological step that levies "positive" Orientalist empiricism against the romantic and gothic extravagances more typical of eighteenth-century English orientalisms.

Following the sexual tease of the letter to the unnamed lady describing the secret selam techniques, the narrator steps back to reflect on the cultural advantages and perils of linguistic multiplicity. By means of a territorial metaphor with political implications, Montagu resorts to expressing her anxiety about losing the mother tongue-

I am allmost falln into the misfortune so common to the Ambitious: while they are employ'd on distant, insignificant Conquests abroad, a Rebellion starts up at home. I am in great dan 'er of loseing my English. (L, 390) 9

In Constantinople, she "live[s] in a place that very well represents the Tower of Babel." Listing a bewildering multiplicity of the languages spoken around her (spoken languages in addition to

Srinivas Aravamudan


private ones, such as the code of flowers, masking, and so on) and the multifarious ethnicities of her servants and ambassadorial retinue, Montagu fears that the natives of Constantinople end up being astonishingly multilingual and cosmopolitan, but correspondingly, woefully illiterate "in the perpetual hearing of this medley of Sounds" (L, 390). Montagu oscillates between a scathing dismissal of the monolingual and parochial uniformity of English society where "Ladys [who] set up for such extrodinary Geniuses upon the credit of some superficial knowledge of French and Italian," and the equally worrisome contemporary prospect of the loss of that very identity: "As I prefer English to all the rest, I am extremely mortify'd at the daily decay of it in my head, where I'll assure you (with greife of heart) it is reduce'd to such a small number of Words" (L, 390-91 ).41 Linguistic alienation, as a matter of course, is one of the first signs of the culture shock from which Montagu wishes to cushion herself, even as she wants to exacerbate the shock to increase its heuristic value for what she often implies is a jaded, provincial, and complacent English society and its attitudes. Her cautious celebration of heterogeneity is tempered by a fear of the loss of English identity, which she still wants to keep as a prima inter pares. At the end of her travels, Montagu turns to an archaeological stance of classicism and cultural antiquarianism as a compromise strategy for mediation between differences, after encountering an Ottoman empire that tolerated the social mixture of multinational, multiethnic, and multireligious populations in a manner that would have bewildered the still provincial English.

Montagu's critically engaging misprision is a function of the unfreedom of English women and the different agency that Turkish upper-class women may have possessed within the differing cultural constraints of the society both groups inhabited. Such an approach to Montagu could lead us to appreciate the nuanced nature of her contemporaneity, and can allow us reappropriate her with newer countercultural genealogies that do not simply pigeonhole her as either a symptom of her class and nationality, or an unthinking practitioner of oppressive aestheticization.

Rather than belabor Montagu's writings with the blunt accusation of orientalism, or naively celebrate it as twentieth-century feminism, as one recent reading has done, I have attempted here to reinterpret her ideological levantinization of the Levant-produced by her text's unsteady mixture of whiggism and neoclassicism, which can be read as proto-feminist or proto-orientalist by different readers. Montagu's


Montagu in the Hammam

travel writing participates at once in feminisms and orientalisms, in a manner that cannot be readily deciphered through ideological litmus tests. Her archaeological classicism, another substantive feature of Lettersfrom the Levant that I have been unable to discuss at length here, concentrates on a Levantine neoclassical and Islamic heritage. This tactic largely disavows the Manichaean dialectic of self and other characteristic of high orientalism, for the wager that the benign play of differences characteristic of humanist orientalisms 49 As the Orientalist by-

could lead to transcultural understanding.

pothesis argues, this humanist dream of a transcultural understanding on an equal footing did not subsequently happen. However, to assimilate Montagu to that failure, or delusively celebrate her success merely because her writing does not foreshadow high orientalism, is to decide categorically whether she won or lost the intellectual levant she threw to her contemporaries. The unfinished task of constructing alternative genealogies of orientalism and its discontents suggests that the larger cultural Levant that enabled those levantinizations still resists such a premature foreclosure. Montagu's feminism is itself implicated in the masquerade of the aggression and deference that Joan Riviere designates as a certain pathology of womanliness. On the other hand, her imbrication within orientalisms largely revitalizes a neoclassical synthesis of Occident with Levant that is progressive and inclusionary. Despite its openness, this positive Orientalist ideal cannot assimilate the nomadic contexts of North Africa-where Montagu compares the women to baboons-a gesture that neutralizes the intellectual wager of syncretism.@ Having thrown her levant, Montagu eventually absconds to the Continent, and is finally published after her death in a manner ensuring her literary success. However, a consideration of Montagu's levantinization ought to reconfigure critical approaches to Orientalist humanisms in order to confront more successfully the legacies of Orientalist epistemologies.

University of Utah


I would like to thank Ranjana Khanna, Karen Lawrence, Tom Stillinger, Kathryn Stockton, and Barry Weller for their help with earlier versions of this essay.

I For a facsimile reprint of the St. John edition, see The Eastern Europe Collection series (Arno Press and the New York Times, 1971). Fifty-two letters form the corpus of Letters from the Levant, and these letters have been deemed an

Srinivas Aravamudan


autonomous literary piece within the larger context of Montagu's complete letters (as they were kept separately in albums commemorating her Levantine travels). The finished letters are most likely pseudo-letters recomposed from earlier heads of letters that Montagu had also kept. For the most detailed account of the manuscript sources and the anecdotal history of the eventual publication of the work, see Robert Halsband, The Life of Mary Wortley Montagu (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1960). For earlier biographies, see George Paston, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Her Times (New York: Putnam, 1907); Lewis Melville, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Her Life and Letters (London: Hutchinson, 1925); and Iris Barry, Portrait of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (London: Ernest Benn, 1928). The most reliable scholarly edition of the letters is that by Robert Halsband, ed., The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1965). Unless otherwise specified, all citations will follow the first volume of the Halsband edition of The Complete Letters; page numbers will be cited parenthetically in the text and abbreviated L. Two editions currently in print are Selected Letters of Lady ifary Wortley Montagu, ed. Robert Halsband (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), and Letters, introduction Clare Brant (London: Everyman, 1992). The Penguin edition unfortunately does not contain all the Turkish letters, whereas the more complete reprint of the 1906 Everyman edition occasionally contains some spurious text from corrupt editions. For a recent lavishly-illustrated edition, see Embassy to Constantinople: The Travels of Lady Mar-y Wortley Montagu, ed. Christopher Pick (London: Century Hutchinson, 1988). For the remainder of Montagu's collected writings, see Essays and Poems and Simplicity A Comedy, ed. Robert Halsband and Isobel Grundy (Oxford: Clarendon, 1977).

2 I take my definition of fantasy from jean Laplanche and jean-Baptiste Pontalis, "Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality," For7nations of Fantasy, ed. Victor Burgin, James Donald, and Cora Kaplan (New York: Methuen, 1986), 5-34. For a lucid discussion of this definition, see Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of 'Sex' (New York: Routledge, 1993), 267-68.

3The OED's examples of this usage come from Vanbrugh and Cibber's The
Provincial Husband, and Fielding's The Lottery, as well as Tom Jones.

4 See Srinivas Aravamudan, "Trop(icaliz)ing the Enlightenment," Diacritics 23.3 (Fall 1993): 48-68. As part of the conceptual apparatus of my forthcoming book entitled Tropical Figures: Colonialist Representation and Anticolonial Agency, 1688-1804, "levantinization" is a process allied with the more general mechanism of "tropicalization." Tropicalization enables postcolonial readers to reappropriate colonialist metropolitan discourses and practices through a genealogy that attends to resistance as well as oppression. If colonialism rendered the colonized as so many tropical figures of epistemological and political subjection, a postcolonial reading tropicalizes these figures, finding extant instances of resistance, and creatively exploring them as alternative reading strategies. The ethical imperative of anticolonial/postcolonial reading, therefore, is to articulate the agency of the colonized, rather than merely theorize from the position of the colonizer. In this respect, I ally myself with the sociopolitical turn in cultural and literary studies that is concerned with understanding culture from the standpoint of its consumers and its epistemological objects rather than merely from the mechanisms of power or authority that are deemed to generate it. "Tropicalization," as I define it, bears a family resemblance to the term "transculturation" that Mary Louise Pratt adopts from the work of Cuban sociologist Fernando Ortiz and Uruguayan critic Angel Rama. See Mary


Montagu in the Hammam

Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routiedge, 1992), 6.

-' Cynthia Lowenthal suggests that the agency of the Turkish women described by Montagu arises from the performative effects of sexual segregation, rather than from psychological interiority imagined through literary representations of novelistic "characters." Lowenthal's nuanced reading of Montagu's epistolarity within the contexts of eighteenth-century genres interprets Montagu as aestheticizing Turkish women through the interlocking, purportedly antifeminist genres of pictorial representation and seventeenth-century romance. According to this reading, Montagu's "stopped-action" scenes arrest the feminine at the moment of reemergence into self and transcendence. However, Lowenthal cites normative Islamic law from Orientalist sources as the proof of Turkish women's oppression. The romance genre that Lowenthal criticizes Montagu for using has also been credited with liberatory power by recent deconstructionist, feminist, and Marxist critics such as William Warner, Ros Ballaster, Isobel Grundy, Laurie Langbauer, and Michael Nerlich. Even though Lowenthal is correct in insisting that Montagu's account is distorted for seeing only the agency and not the subjection, it is necessary to look for more appropriate background. For instance, Fanny Davis argues that women Sultans (daughters of Sultans who were also addressed by the same title) unlike typical Turkish women of the period, went out, shopped, walked around, and had their own palaces. A faulty extrapolation from the personal freedoms that women of this milieu possessed may partly account for Montagu's assertions concerning all Turkish women. See Cynthia Lowenthal, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1994), 80-113; Fanny Davis, The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), I17; Deniz Kandiyoti, "End of Empire: Islam, Nationalism, and the State," in Women, Islam, and the State, ed. Deniz Kandiyoti (Philadelphia and London: Temple Univ. Press and Macmillan, 1991), 22-47; Ros Ballaster, Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fictionfrom 1684-1740 (Oxford: Clarendon 1992); Isobel Grundy, "'Trash, Trumpery, and Idle Time': Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Fiction," Eighteenth-Century Fiction (1993): 293-310; Laurie Langbauer, Women and Romance: The Consolations of Gender in the English Novel (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1990); Michael Nerlich, The Ideology of Adventure: Studies in Modern Consciousness, 1100-1750, trans. Ruth Crowley (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1987); and William B. Warner, "The Elevation of the Novel in England: Hegemony and Literary History," ELH 59 (Fall 1992): 577-96.

6 1 use the terminology initiated by Arnold Van Gennep, "The Classification of Rites," in The Rites of Passage, trans. Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee (London: Routledge, 1960), 1-13. For the best-known contemporary cultural anthropologist who uses this terminology, see Victor Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca : Cornell Univ. Press, 1974); "Liminal to Liminoid, in Play, Flow, and Ritual: An Essay in Comparative Symbology," Rice University Studies 60 (Summer 1974): 53-92; and Victor Turner and Edith Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1978).

' See Joan Riviere, "Womanliness as Masquerade," in The Inner World and Joan Riviere, Collected Papers: 1920-1958 (New York: Karnac Books, 1991), 94; Stephen Heath, "Joan Riviere and the Masquerade," Formations of Fantasy, ed. Victor Burgin, James Donald, and Cora Kaplan (New York: Methuen, 1986), 45-61; Judith

Srinivas Aravamudan


Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 50-54. Butler addresses race substantially in Bodies that Matter (note 2), with readings of Passing and Paris is Burning. However, attending to the racial complication at the heart of Riviere's article could make its proposed theory of gender more than just an application to contexts of race.

I Those who read eighteenth-century travel narratives without reference to the generic experimentation in travel writing since antiquity do so at the peril of massive simplification. One of the recent attempts to provide a longer literary-historical perspective to travel narrative in the Western tradition has been Mary B. Campbell, The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400-1600 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1988). Campbell demonstrates that early travel writing is a fluid and all-inclusive origin for the developments that led to the genres of historiography, spiritual autobiography, and the novel. For more exhaustive treatments of the volume of travel writing especially in the eighteenth century, see Percy G. Adams, Travelers and Travel Liars, 1660-1800 (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1962); Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1983); and Charles L. Batten, Jr., Pleasurable Instruction: Form and Convention in Eighteenth-Century Travel Literature (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1978).

' Thus, her account is cultural-relativist in a manner that presents us with a dialogical rather than the dialectical relationship between the categories of "romance idealism," "naive empiricism" and "extreme skepticism" suggested by Michael McKeon as formative of novelistic discourse. While the categories generated by McKeon are pedagogically very useful, I am inclined to disagree with his characterization of "naive empiricism" as the content of a "progressive" ideology of eighteenth-century travel writing. Such a hypothesis relies on an idealization of the intentions of readers and writers of this genre. It is more plausible that idealism, empiricism, and skepticism-associated by McKeon as equivalent to aristocratic, progressive, and conservative eighteenth-century ideologies-are dialogically related to each other at microtextual moments in the reading process of the genre of travel narrative. After all, travel narrative was the idiom of the moment, appropriated by readers and writers of all ideological persuasions. McKeon's macrotextual neo-Hegelian Marxism, in its emphasis of a will-to-abstraction and search for the animating ideological essences behind putatively discrete literary genres, can be applied more usefully in a scaled-down dialogical fashion to specific texts. See Michael McKeon, Origins of the English Novel 1600-1740 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987), 103-13.

" Montagu's joint reference to Knolles and Rycaut makes it likely that she was familiar with the sixth edition of Richard Knolles, The Turkish History, from the Original of that Nation, to the Growth of the Ottoman Empire ... (London, 1687). Sir Paul Rycaut, The Present State of the Ottoman Empire Containing the Maxi7m of the Turkish Polity (London, 1686), was appended to this folio edition. Some other well-known travels to Turkey before Montagu's are Sir Henry Blount, Voyage into the Levant (London, 1634); and George Sandys, A Relation of a journey begun AD 1610, containing a description of the Turkish Empire (London, 1615). For a brief description of seventeenth-century travelers to Turkey, see Robin Fedden, English Travellers in the Near East (London: Longman, 1958).

See Aaron Hill, A Full and just Account of the Present State of the Ottoman


Montagu in the Hammam

Empire in all its Branches (London, 1709), -published in a folio edition with massive support from influential subscribers. Hill will regale readers with burlesque nationalist accounts, such as that of the hale and hearty ack Tar who manages to have sex with the women in a harem for ten days before h i e is discovered and flees, whereas the sexually more sophisticated French Ambassador's secretary is apprehended and severely bastinadoed-wbipped on the soles of his feet-for attempting a similar libertine escapade (112-15).

12 See jean Dumont, A New Voyage to the Levant, 4th ed. (London, 1705). The same charge will also be repeated by Addison, Spectator 288 (30 January 1712), in The Spectator. By Addison, Steele, and Others, ed. Donald F. Bond, 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1965) 3:22. All subsequent references will be to this edition, cited parenthetically in the text and abbreviated S.

13 Montagu is credited by her biographer Robert Halsband with the authorship of a pseudonymous feminist pamphlet. Similar to Astell and Defoe in her advocacy of women, Montagu was also in favor of a female academy. See Montagu, @Voman Not Inferior to Man: By Sophia, A Person of Quality (1739; rpt., London: Brentham, 1975). Also see the feminist theme of the sixth issue of Montagu's shortlived periodical, The Nonsense of Comnwn-Sense (1736), ed. Robert Halsband (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1947). The periodical achieved greater prominence as it was reprinted in the London Magazine. Montagu speaks of the stoic qualities of women:

As much Greatness of Mind may be shewn in Submission as in Command; and some Women have suffered a Life of Hardships with as much Philosophy as Cato traversed the Desarts of Africa, and without that Support the View of Glory offered him, which is enough for the human Mind that is touched with it, to go through any Toil or Danger (27).

Montagu also anonymously penned a marvelous diatribe against husbands in Spectator 573 (28 July 1714), in a satiric reply to a letter about a club of nine widows in Spectator 561 by Addison (30 June 1714) (S, 4:515-18, 556-61). She writes masquerading as a woman who has had six husbands:

I do not believe all the unreasonable Malice of Mankind can give a Pretence why I should have been constant to the Memory of any of the deceased, or have spent much time in grieving for an insolent, insignificant, negligent, extravagant, splenetick, or covetous Husband; my first insulted me, my second was nothing to me, my third disgusted me, the fourth would have ruined me, the fifth tormented me, and the sixth would have starved me (Halsband, Essays and Poerm [note 1], 74).

Another protofeminist piece, "An Essay on the Mischief of Giving Fortunes with Women in Marriage," published in Curll's Miscellanea, is credited to her by Halsband (Life (note 11, 121).
" Montagu criticizes Addison's distracting foray into romantic subplot, and upholds classical Aristotelian notions concerning the unity of action. She finds Shakespeare's Julius Caesar much better in its compression, and points out that Juba and Syphax are too close to Othello in their characterization. She also recommends stronger libertarian rhetoric throughout the play ("[Critique of Cato]

Srinivas Aravamudan


in the celebrated misogynist examples from My Fair Lady, a proliferation of synonyms can result: a cant term for "wife" can be "the Duchess" (via "the Duchess of Fife") or "trouble" (via "trouble and strife"). These designations are conventional; however, the poetic possibility exists that substitutions could work according to idiosyncratic desires and private equivalences. See Eric Partridge, A Dictionarti of Slang and Unconventional English, ed. Paul Beale (London: Routledge, 1984). The classic example from Du Vignau (note 21) is as follows: "A cube of sugar, known in Turkish as Cheker, will signify seni medem scheker, which means, my inside attracts you, my heart yearns passionately for you" (12). The first syllable will suggest an association: sending the color "blue," [mev't'], will mean "I'm in love" [Mefloldum]

(13). The Picardian ' tradition of the rebus was a significant genre in France and Italy, but not so much in England. See jean C6ard and Jean-Claude Margolin, Ribus de la Renaissance: Des Images Qui Parlent (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 1986). Perhaps the English work that dealt most extensively with the concept was Camden's Remaines (1605), which Addison borrows from for a few comments on the rebus. See William Camden, "Name-devises," in Remaines of a greater work, concerning Britaine, the inhabitants thereof, their languages, names, surnames, impreses, wisespeeches, poesis, and epitaphes (London, 1614), 164-67; and E. Moore, "An Essay on the Rebus in Art," The Craftsman 5 (1903-1904): 240. The rebus will take a more satirical form in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century that may have contributed to Addison's dismissal of the rebus as a species of false wit, Spectator 59 (8 May 171 1) (S, 1:250-51). See also the apology for punning by John Birch in The Guardian 36 (22 April 1713), in The Guardian, ed. John Calhoun Stephens (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1982), 147-50.

13 See Anne-Marie Moulin and Pierre Chuvin, L'Islam au Piril des Femmes: Une Anglaise en Turquie au XVIlIe Si@cle (Paris: La D6couverte, 1981), 96. Witness also Du Vignau, "It must be said that the Turks have no means of indicating gender, and they say the same words to mean 'a handsome man' and 'a beautiful woman,' and the same phrases are used for the (male) lover as for the mistress" (18).

" For instance, Dervia Murphy argues that Montagu's youthful letters to Anne Wortley were actually coded addresses to her then suitor Edward Wortley. See The Embassy to Constantinople: The Travels of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (London: Century Hutchinson, 1988), 13. For a treatment of Montagu's letters in relation to the techniques of eighteenth-century epistolarity, also see Bruce Redford, The Converse of the Pen: Acts of Intimacy in the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1986) and Patricia Meyer Spacks, Gossip (New York: Knopf, 1985). The manuscript circulation of eighteenth-century letters make them much closer to the cryptic openness of the postcard, deconstructing the public and the private, the fictional and the empirical. In this respect, it is also useful to remember the conceptual pressure put on the philosophical concept of the letter and the postcard by Jacques Derrida, La Carte Postale: De Socrates d Freud et Audel,i (Paris: Flammarion, 1980).

2.5 while "harem," from the opposition in Arabic between h'aldl (pure, permitted, legal) and h'ardm (impure, prohibited, illegal) designates female-inhabited spaces in a household that were off-limits to any man other than the husband and his eunuchs, the same space could be freely visited by women and children.
2" For two contemporary instances of this oft-repeated charge, see Spectator 53 (I May 1711) (S, 1:224), and Alexander Pope, Correspondence, ed. George Sherburn, 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1956), 1:368-69.


Montagu in the Hammam

27 Harlequin in Aphra Behn, The Emperor of the Moon, in The Works of Aphra Behn, ed. Montague Summers, 6 vols. (London: Heinemann, 1915), 3:383-463.
"' The kahya, or steward, was the second most powerful officer of the empire after the Vizier. For comments on these meetings, see Moulin and Chuvin (note 23), 1819. See Joan Copjec, "The Sartorial Superego," Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), 65-116.

" Ingres copied the bathhouse letter dated 1 April 1717, into his diary, and worked from it to produce Le bain turc (L, 310).

' This episode is also recounted in Spence's anecdotes, based on an oral account from Montagu that is useful to compare with the written letter: "The first time she was at one of these baths, the ladies invited her to undress, and to bathe with them; and on her not making any haste, one of the prettiest run to her to undress her. You can't imagine her surprise upon lifting my lady's gown, and seeing her stays go all round her. She run back quite frightened, and told her companion, 'That the husbands in England were much worse than in the East, for that they tied up their wives in little boxes, of the shape of their bodies.' She carried 'em to see it. They all agreed that 'twas one of the greatest barbarities of the world, and pitied the poor woman for being such slaves in Europe." See Joseph Spence, Anecdotes, Observations, and Characters of Books and Men. Collected from the Conversation of Mr. Pope and other Eminent Persons of His Time (London: W. H. Carpenter, 1820), 23031.

31 Pope (note 26), 1:384. Pope also writes to Montagu about wishing to see her naked: "We shall then see how the Prudes of this world owed all their fine Figure only to their being a little straiter-lac'd, and that they were naturally as arrant Squabs as those that went more loose, nay as those that never girded their loyns at all" (1:353). In another letter, Pope imagines the indolence and voluptuousness of the seraglio that Montagu may be in as "a very mixed kind of enjoyment" (1:422). Three times he mentions that he "detested the Sound of Honest Woman, and Loving Spouse ever since [he] heard the pretty name of Odaliche" (1:364, 441, 496). For some recent analysis of Pope's involvement with Montagu, see Valerie Rumbold, Women's Place in Pope's World (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989), 133-43; Cynthia Wall, "Editing Desire: Pope's Correspondence with (and without) Lady Mary," Philological Quar-terly 71 (1992): 221-37; and Cynthia Lowenthal (note 5), 52-64.

12 See Horace Walpole's Correspondence, ed. W. S. Lewis, 48 vols. (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1937-83), especially the references to her acquired deformities (30:15), her coarse and unclean clothes (18:306, 22:3), her decay (42:507), her dirt and frugality (34:255), her dirt that ought to put her into quarantine (21:540), her chateau a mere hovel (23:315), her morals (9:392), and especially the references to her as "old, foul, tawdry, painted, plastered" (13:234), and to "the poxed, foul, malicious, black blood of Lady Mary" (30:10). On the other hand, if the constant references by several enemies to Montagu's lack of hygiene are true, even by the relatively rudimentary standards of the eighteenth-century English aristocracy, this may also incidentally suggest that she smelled "high" to her much cleaner Turkish counterparts. I thank Moira Ferguson for suggesting this possibility to me.

' Brant (note 1), xviii. Furthermore, Addison and Wortley were very close friends who went on the Grand Tour together for three years. By implicitly opposing the exclusionary nature of this aristocratic male bonding, there may well be a concealed rejoinder that Montagu is issuing to her marital partner. Lady Mary eloped with

Srinivas Aravamudan


Wortley after complex negotiations over her marriage settlement failed between him and her father, the Duke of Pierrepont. However, the stand-off between the two men became public scandal when the details of the financial negotiations made it to the pages of The Tatler, due to Addison's friendship with Wortley. Wortley provided Addison with notes against the conduct of mercenary marriages, material that Addison used to write two essays on the subject. See Tatler 199 (18 July 1710), and 223 (12 September 1710) (Bond, Tatler [note 18], 3:65-68, 161-65), and Halsband, Life (note 1), 23-28.

34 Montagu's friendship with Robert Wal.pole's mistress, Maria Skerett, who later became his wife, also undoubtedly contributed to her vilification as "Sappho" by the Tory opposition. Montagu also briefly entered the pamphlet wars, @ossibly on Robert Walpole's behalf, by authoring a shortlived periodical (a total of nine issues).

See Montagu, Nonsense (note 13), x-xviii. The periodical aimed to counter the charges of corruption by Lord Chesterfield and George Lyttelton against Walpole in Common Sense, which began in February 1737. MontaLTu says, commencing her defense of women, "I expect to be told, this is downright Quixotism, and that I am venturing to engage the strongest part of Mankind with a Paper Helmet upon my Head" (25). Writing this still two decades before the publication of Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote, Montagu is certainly a candidate for the eighteenthcentury notion of the female quixote, whose rebellious unpredictability both alarms those who wish to uphold gender norms, and yet amuses them by acting out the incongruity of gender subversion onto their bodies and identities.

-I-' See jean Thevenot, Travels into the Levant (London, 1656). Meanwhile, Rycaut (note 10) will talk at length about the Turkish predilection for homosexualitycalling the Turks "Slaves to this inordinate Passion ... [that] likewise reigns in the Society of Women"-and its policing by eunuchs in the dormitories for youths being trained for high office, and by Matrons in the women's quarters (13-16). The cloying, voluptuous, and degenerate version of the bathhouse will reappear in the accounts of subsequent female travelers, such as Lady Craven, A journey through the Crimea to Constantinople (London: G. Virtue, 1789), 263-64, and Julia Pardoe, Beauties of the Bosphorus (London, 1830), 137. See also the renewed scientific interest in eunuchs and hermaphroditism, fueled by works such as Charles Ancillon, Traiti des eunuques dans lequel on explique toutes les diff@rentes sortes deunuques, quel rang ils ont tenu et quel cas on en a fait (Paris, 1707); translated as Eunuchism display'd (London: E. Curil, 1718).

36 "Nothing seems to me a plainer proofe of the irrationality of Mankind (whatever fine claims we pretend to Reason) than the rage with which they contest for a small spot of Ground ... I am a good deal inclin'd to beleive Mr. Hobbs, that the State of Nature is a State of War" (L, 305).

31 John Milton, Paradise Lost, 4.304-18. Mary Astell also speaks of the Protestant nunnery as follows: "Happy Retreat! which will be the introducing you into such a Paradise as your Mother Eve forfeited ... Here are no serpents to deceive you ... No provocations are given in this Amicable Society." See A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (London, 1694), 64-67.

See Abdelwahab Bouhdiba, La Sexualiti en Islam (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1975), 197-213.

311 The modern structure of the liminoid, for Turner (note 6), is "experimental, idiosyncratic, quirky, subversive, utopian"; the premodern liminal in contrast, is anonymous or divine in origin. Turner speaks of the early modern transition from


Montagu in the Hammam

the "ludergic liminal" to the "ergic liminoid" (36, 253). Turner also describes the liminal as an attribute of communitarian societies and special sections of industrial societies (such as universities) that maintain initiation structures and rites of passage. "Liminoid" is defined in terms of instances of modern social disorder that are symbolic inversions no longer connected with communal ritual but that have separated off to become autonomous genres or commodities. The liminoid is open, optative, and not conceptualized; the liminal is a predetermined mid-stage of the process of religious ritual. While Montagu did not publish immediately due to family pressures (despite Mary Astell's strong recommendations), the inevitable public commodity-status of the letters will end up being deferred rather than altogether denied.

40 Bouhdiba (note 38), 203.

4 1Smollett will write that Montagu's letters were "never equalled by any letter- writer of any sex, age, or nation." See Critical Review 15 (1763): 426.
42 See Bouhdiba (note 38), 199; and Moulin and Chuvin (note 23), 66.

4.3 See Genevieve Miller, The Adoption of Inoculationfor Smallpox in England and France (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1957), 45-69. The Royal Society knew about smallpox inoculation as early as 1700, through John Lister's experiments, and Aubrey de La Mottraye had observed it in Circassia. However, the technique was considered too dangerous to practice on human subjects until Montagu brought back appropriate methods from Turkey. Montagu includes a brief letter to her husband reporting the inoculation of their son (L, 392)@ See Montagu's town eclogue, "Saturday: The Small Pox: Flavia," in which she expressed her feelings about the disease (Halsband, Essays and Poerm [note 11, 182). The most notorious antifeminist attack on the introduction of the technique was by Wagstaffe: "Posterity perhaps will scarcely be brought to believe, that an Experiment practiced only by a few Ignorant Women, amongst an illiterate and unthinking People, shou'd on a sudden, and upon slender Experience, so far obtain in one of the Politest Nations in the World, as to be receiv'd into the Royal Palace." See William Wagstaffe, A Letter to Dr. Freind Shewing the Danger and Uncertainty of Inoculating the Small Pox (London, 1722), 5. Montagu wrote an unsigned letter in The Tatler defending the technique, and authored a pseudonymous pamphlet in order to respond to the attacks made on her. However, she also had her defenders. William Broome wrote a flattering letter saying he would write a poem celebrating her discovery, which she showed to Pope, and Princess Caroline's efforts on her behalf led to the inoculation of orphan children in St. james's@ Parish. Richard Savage's Miscellany, dedicated to her, contained a poem from Aaron Hill's The Plain Dealer on smallpox (for a summary, see Halsband, Life [note 1], 109-11). See also the letter from "Parthenissa" on the ravages of smallpox (Spectator 306 [20 February, 17121, S, 3:100-02).

44 Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Hill and Wang,

1973), 150.
45Victor and Edith Turner (note 6) describe pilgrimage as "an ordered antistructure of patrimonial feudal systems" (254).
11 Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History, trans. Tom Conley (New York:

Columbia Univ. Press, 1988).
47 Du Vignau (note 21) too will have a similar reaction, in relation to the fear of losing his fluency in French after so much listening to "a mixture of various Turkish languages, demotic Greek, and Italian" (Preface; translation mine).

Srinivas Aravamudan


4' Joseph W. Lew claims that Montagu's "description of how Oriental wometi@ Subverted order anticipated, by two hundred fifty years the work of feminists suc as Mernissi and Abu-Lughod." Such a claim is dubious and rend, problematic by the continuation of transhistorical Orientalist approache the feminist criticisms of Islam. Joseph W. Lew, "Lady Mary's Portab Eighteenth-Century Studies 24 (1991): 433- Fatima Mernissi, The Veil t Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam, trans. Mary e an (New York: Addison Wesley, 1991); and Fatna A. Sabbah, Woman in the Muslim Unconscious (New York: Pergamon, 1984).
41 As Lisa Lowe (note 15) argues throughout Critical Terrains, heterogeneity and ambivalence is characteristic of the diverse orientalisms present at different historical moments.

50 Their posture in siting, the colour of their skin, their lank black Hair failing on each side their faces, their features and the shape of their Limbs, differ so little from their own country people, the Baboons, tis hard to fancy them a distinct race, and I could not help thinking there had been some ancient alliances between them. (L, 427)

For a discussion of this passage, see Felicity Nussbaum, "The Other Woman: Polygamy, Pamela, and the Prerogative of Empire," Women, "Race," and Writing in the Early Modern Period ed. Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker (New York: Routledge, 1994), 155-57.


Montagu in the Hammam