You are on page 1of 37

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in the Hammam: Masquerade, Womanliness, and Levantinization

Author(s): Srinivas Aravamudan
Source: ELH, Vol. 62, No. 1 (Spring, 1995), pp. 69-104
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL:
Accessed: 21/10/2010 04:33

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless
you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you
may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed
page of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

The Johns Hopkins University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to



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 investiga-
tive 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 woman-
hood. 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
Additionally, a title such as Letters from the Levant enables a
parallel reading of several calculated intellectual wagers made through

ELH 62 (1995) 69-104 © 1995 by The JohnsHopkinsUniversityPress 69

the subject's identificatory dispersal. Montagu places and then hedges
her cultural bets in a manner that could be reminiscent of eigh-
teenth-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.3 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 specula-
tive 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 interac-
tion between colonialist and anticolonial figuration that I call
Montagu's embellished letters, purportedly written on several
occasions to historical individuals such as Lady Mar, Alexander Pope,
the Abb6 Conti, and other addressees, synthesize the writer's per-
sonal interests with the broader appeal of intellectual commentary.
The empiricist epistemology of the traveler interacts with the revi-
sionary and relativist "feminism" of the woman-scholar; the neoclas-
sical antiquarianism of the humanist intersects with remarks on early
eighteenth-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 struc-
ture 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

70 Montagu in the Hammam

a romance manque that synthesizes a banal return home rather than a magical metamorphosis. this Kleinian formulation has been Srinivas Aravamudan 71 . as a full-fledged cultural passage or romance metamorphosis does not take place. The phantasmatic and partial nature of identification should itself suggest that "levantinization" is a function of several related psycho- logical intensities rather than any single qualitative factor that can determine its identificatory effectivity. This phenomenon corresponds to the observer's experi- ence of cultural separation or alienation. In any case. both to hide the possession of masculinity and to avert the reprisals expected if she [the analysand] was found to possess it. developed from an interrogative first phase. Montagu's ambivalence about the masquerade of feminine identi- fication is strikingly reminiscent of Joan Riviere's assertion that "womanliness [ ] could be assumed and worn as a mask. proves transitory for Montagu. Montagu's heuristic levantinizations occasionally unsettle the norms of travel narrative. and especially does not in the famous bathhouse scene that will be my focus here. Consequently. Antiquarian classicism comes to Montagu's rescue as a compromise ideological formation that converts the focus from current identities to past ones. The second stage concerns the observer's figurative idealization of putatively desirable characteristics from the observed cultural phenomena.6 The eclectic relativism of the first stage is abandoned for that of (a fantasy of) assimilation to the other. as her perceptions often problematize the positional fixities of the supererogatory ethnographer and the grounded native." Montagu's self-position- ing as a female author competing with male predecessors resembles Riviere's original concept of womanliness as masquerade. this second stage of liminal identification. and there are implicit anxieties and criticisms that do not disappear as a result of this partial identification. the observer undergoes a third phase that can be described as a postliminal mode of reaggregation. The honorary subjectivity in the guest culture is temporally circumscribed.ethnocentricism in favor of the observer's culture with an eclectic relativism. a process that can variously be rendered as "going native. and displaces politics back into history. This rhetorical idealization that threatens to transform the observer can be called the anthropological moment of liminality." or "levantinization"-different names for the transformation of identity that occurs when an individual from one culture is psychically and physiologically absorbed into another." "passing. Derived from a bisexuality complex.

her eclectic modes of cultural percep- tion evolve as her itinerary unfolds. 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. and conclude with some remarks about classicist recuperation." We will see that Montagu's actions in the hammam. Such salutary les- 72 Montagu in the Hammam . 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.frequently generalized in a freefloating fashion by post-Lacanian psychoanalytical feminists.7 In what follows. FEMALE TRAVELERS AND CULTURAL RELATIVISM Montagu's cultural remarks creatively amalgamate several longstanding literary traditions of Western travel narrative. similarly bring out the "double- action" of her obsessive authorial masquerade. I will concen- trate on the implications of Montagu's levantinization of Ottoman aristocratic womanhood and her multiple uses of masquerade. even as she titillates her male readers. Letters from the Levant can be appreciated as an abbreviated sample of European ideological regis- ters that refer to proximate regions such as the Balkans. and the general affluence and civic orderliness of Rotterdam. Montagu's racial typing of the North African women she meets. which I interpret as symbolic inoculation. suggest such a conscious disavowal. policing herself scrupulously. and Nimeguen (248-52). and personal memoirs. Montagu commences Letters from the Levant with the familiar moral didacticism of some travel narratives. and North Africa. who partly overlook the involvement of atavistic racist fantasies with more modern professionalist contexts in the original analysand's psychic structure. Montagu reflects on a variety of cultural topics and geographical locations. aesthetic criticism. remarking on the cleanliness and industriousness of Dutch maids. Working within the multiple prose genres of ethnography.8 As Montagu builds up to her arrival in Turkey following a stately progress across the Continent. juxtaposed with the pre- professionalized rivalries with travel writers that inflect her views on Turkish women that I will discuss. the Hague. 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. Asia Minor.

" and "satire". Such a critical edge is typical of Montagu's discourse. and in keeping with her whiggish sympathies. aspects of "Behn. Montagu reshapes the genre of early travel narrative as a vehicle that simultaneously signals "ro- mance. travel writing is often compelled to pro- duce the same difference. and impartiallity. Furthermore. If we say nothing but what has been said before us. the descriptions of the advantages of republican principalities in Germany over those run by absolutist monarchs (L. Montagu deplores the biased and inconsistent expectations of its readership: We Travellersare in very hard circumstances.9 A self-conscious and sceptical practitioner of the genre of travel- ogue. 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. or the changes of customs that happen every 20 year in every Country. The willing adoption of her gendered identity emphasizes her empirical reliability over against the norma- tive masculine voice: she sees her analysis as rising "out of a true Srinivas Aravamudan 73 . more Curiosity. good Nature. we are dull and we have observ'd nothing." "Defoe. noticing different phenomena. But people judge of Travellers exactly with the same Candour. we are laugh'd at as fabulous and Romantic. but also expected to fulfill pre-existing stereotypes. and correcting previous misrepresentations from her perspective as a woman. If we tell any thing new.they judge of their Neighbours upon all Occasions.sons for the English are tempered by the critical scepticism with which she treats the Catholic relics she sees in Cologne and Vienna. Montagu remarks upon cultural differences. she contests the normative masculine vision of her Western predecessors. as all travelers do. which afford difference of company." and "Swift" adhere to the epistemological positions she takes. In the above passage to her sister Lady Mar. Just as people interpret anything done by their neighbors with the lame cynicism of overdetermined and stubborn prejudices. foregrounding those limitations as a badge of honor that enhances her credibility." "science. (L. 385) Travel writing is obliged to produce novelty. The empiri- cist impetus behind her world-view is accompanied by a strong scepticist commitment to demystification. not allowing for the difference of ranks. 254-55). she care- fully circumscribes her empiricism within its own subjectivist and gendered limits. at the same time.

Montagu often casually reveals an excellent grasp of the already extant travel writing in French and English on Turkey. Similarly. She could. 383). and novelty. Sultana Hafise.12 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. 405). 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. Montagu uses her high-placed informant. Montagu's self-conscious protofeminism ought to be contextualized by the aristocratic signature that under- 74 Montagu in the Hammam . Montagu claims to possess anthropological skills of cultural decipherment far superior to those of her predecessors. who mistakenly described the Greeks as chattel slaves rather than as political subjects of Ottoman rule (L. Montagu deplores the ignorance of a state-sponsored French traveler called Dumont." In the same vein. 405).female spirit of Contradiction. and they can give no better an Account of the ways here than a French refugee lodging in a Garretin Greek street. contemporaneity. it is not difficult to discern a healthy tone of oneupwomanship. she is more inclined to demystify others' errors. 368). sardonically dismissing his information as "reveal'd to him in Vision during his wonderfull stay in the Egyptian Catacombs" (406). Along with the emphasis laid on this being a first-hand female account. if she wanted. to tell you the falsehood of a great part of what you find in authors" (L. Montagu will sneer at descriptions of Turkey that come from ignorant merchants and travelers who pick up some confus'd informationswhich are generally false. could write of the Court of England. (L. In this confident vein. Montagu's criticisms are obviously intended to demonstrate her superior erudi- tion. turn over Knolles and Sir Paul Rycaut to give you a list of Turkish Emperours" (L. and their naive repetition of second-hand fantastical accounts received from unreliable informants. 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.1o However. 316) She is especially scathing about the unmerited success of Aaron Hill's book on Turkey.'3 Montagu's early erudition-translating the Stoic philosophy of Epictetus's Enchiridion from the Latin version for Bishop Burnet of Salisbury.14As Lisa Lowe suggests. "with little trouble.

Montagu escaped some of the notoriety suffered by many female authors in her time. the account of the peregrinations of the ambassadorial retinue en route to Constantinople also reveals a subtle methodological confrontation between objective realism and subjective impression- ism. The person is so much lost between Head dress and Petticoat. These women's aesthetic infelicities are com- pounded by their libertinism. Montagu's comments on the topics of dress. develops incrementally as Montagu proceeds to the moment of greatest levantinization in the hammam. she is scandalized by the ridiculous court attire and the ugliness of the aristocratic women. They are dress'd after the Fashions there.16 Montagu's arrival at Vienna leads to the first of several complex responses on female attire. This calculated exaggeration of the artifice of Hanover's painted beauties evokes some famous London waxworks mentioned in The Specta- tor. As women are underprivileged in a variety of cultures. By avoiding authorized publication alto- gether. and are in as much danger of melting away by too near approaching the Fire" (L. 288). as people at Exeter imitate those of London. and 'tis not easy to describe what extrodinaryfigures they make. and critical of the drama.15 She was a prominent member of a social class that was familiar with authorship. This central problem. frequently articulated in the quasi- anthropological mode of travel writing. but often in very different ways. they Srinivas Aravamudan 75 . most aristocratic Viennese women manage to retain both a husband and a publicly acknowl- edged lover amidst the persistence of archaic ideas of honor and genealogy (L. their Imitation is more excessive than the Original. That is. or private language (such as the language of flowers) explore several cross- cultural constructions of femininity. Montagu will find its German beauties "ressemble one another as much as Mrs. masking. Salmon's court of Great Brittain. 273-74). While she is impressed with the magnifi- cence of the Imperial court culture.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. While womanhood is always the topic. Montagu's letters demonstrate the specialized codes by which women can express their subjectivity. carnival. Apparently.wrote her intellectual credentials. but even more familiar with patronage. Upon proceeding to Hanover.

291) 76 Montagu in the Hammam . much like a deictic signpost. Chiding an unnamed lady for her uninformed skepticism (unlike the informed interrogation to which she frequently implies she can subject the local culture) Montagu writes from Vienna about the temporary prohibition of masquerade in Viennese carnival: You may tell all the Worldin my Name that they are never so well inform'dof my affairsas I am my selfe. (L. thus momentarily transgressing the realist code she otherwise favors. mapping Prague onto Exeter and Vienna onto London. and to yet another from Addison in The Spectator about the "daily Absurdities" resulting from the unstandardized arbitrariness of London shop signs. (L.18 Even sympathetic imitation. while Montagu's remark appears to chide these women. The discovery of inimitability forms part of the inevitably self- authenticating logic behind much travel writing. the narrator has herself resorted to caricature. the intention is to elicit the reader's belief in her more sophisticated and self-doubting reliability.19 How- ever. In her rush to condemnation. Her mildly excessive response is consistent with the transgression of her own expectations concerning femininity. collapses into irresponsible and incongruous mimicry. have as much occassion to write upon their backs. especially as she finds that "'tis not easy to describe what extrodinary [sic] figures they make" (L. 280-81) Conventions of female beauty undergo a bizarre transmogrification when imitated at a distance. The discourse of eye-witness self-authentication is neverthe- less wedded to a radical scepticism for Montagu. Lady Mary is also alluding to a celebrated anecdote from The Tatler. Montagu bears personal witness to a constantly shifting and transcendental cultural reality. and that I am very positive I am at this time at Vienna. where the Carnivalis begun and all sort of diversions in perpetual practise except that of masqueing. 281). for the information of Travellers. If we take her phrase at face value. This is a Woman. Translating across cultural codes. Montagu's rhetoric here signals that more complicated feints concerning the excessive fictionality and potential veracity of gender-construction will develop as she proceeds. This is a bear. as ever sign post painter had to write. she never clarifies what alternative they might have. when conducted from a dis- tance. which is never permitted during a Warwith the Turks. the women she met were almost unrecognizable as women without denotative placards of designation. Her grammatical construction suspends the imagi- nary umbrella of a potentially excessive fictionality above the women's strange attire.

In this epistolary tiff with an unnamed lady. or send Letters of passion. without ever inking your fingers. If there can still be a carnival without masquing. no flower. and their desires. flaunting its unverifiability by others. can the proscription of masquer- ade matter very much. known as the selam. Montagu searches for the semantic building-blocks that can de- scribe women. An object-related system of signification that pivots around free association as the primary mode of grammatical compo- sition indicates arbitrariness and subjectivism. and you may quarrel. suggests again the problem of artifice. encouraging "all sorts of diversions in perpetual practise. freindship [sic]. One of the letters she writes from Turkey celebrates her discovery of "the language of flowers. There is no colour. The ground is being prepared for the subtler instrument of levantinization. no fruit. or Civillity. 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." a means of secret communication between lovers. or even of news. a more careful one might pick up on the suggestion that masquerade exists in very many forms. In other words. The metafictional twist in the information proffered suggests a larger question by reversing terms. within the cultures they inhabit. While a pessimistic reader may conclude that the proscription of masking in wartime has gutted carnival behavior of its essential attribute. 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 femi- ninity. reproach. 389) One can detect an orientalism at work here. or feather. no weed. a sense that there is a cultural mystery to be unlocked.21 Such a private sys- Srinivas Aravamudan 77 . (L. there is a wry implication that female travel writing is itself not very different from the context of carnival. there can also be masquerade without the formal contexts of carnival. that has not a verse belonging to it. suspicions that she invites only in order to rhetorically vanquish. drawing attention to her authorial powers.20 In this private language. Even as Montagu celebrates the performative nature of the act of writing. herb. Montagu's intellectual fascination with this technique. pebble." It is from the viewpoint of her female identity that Montagu wittily dismisses the suspicions of English high society. Montagu insists on her self-consistent veracity as a categorical fact.

388)." anonymity. addresses her object. autoeroticism. reader. This unidentified correspondent appears as a fictive device of self-reflexivity on the letter-writer's part: "I have got for you. which I have put in a little Box" (L. as you desire." the single unidentified and mysterious addressee becomes a metafictional referent that collapses author. Montagu. It is this 78 Montagu in the Hammam . and mode.23 When indulging in the citation of these erotic norms and conven- tions. As in Fanny Burney's diaries addressed to "Nobody. not according to a rule-bound lexicon. This erotic practice of using psychic mechanisms such as rebuses (perhaps the rudiments of a proto-psychoanalysis centered on the genre of ro- mance) has a rich tradition in Turkish erotic poetry. according to Anne- Marie Moulin and Pierre Chuvin. Its supposedly unmarked gender status could also masquerade. It involves an epistolary mask that takes the very trope of concealment as its unmasked meaning.22 The phenomenon of masquerade is again at stake here. but according to the desires and moods of the participants. as it is written to Montagu's unidentified correspondent in ostensible reply to a request for the secrets. womanliness.24 Masquerade will come to be the "perpetual practise" that suggests a model of female subjectivity for Montagu. fictionality. Montagu's quotation of the selam also combines with a poetic form known as mdna. a Turkish Love- letter. The subject. used only between women. This obvious mystification of the letter's performative status means that the citation of the letter within the letter connotes more than it denotes. its objectives are romantically rather than commercially oriented. one that will come to be structurally related to a kind of freedom that suspends truth. While the code coincidentally resembles Cockney slang. and realism concerning female interiority coincide. through a mise en abime that reduces womanliness to masquerade.tem of communication cannot be comprehended through a naturalis- tically derived logic: the deciphering techniques are hit-and-miss when a code is based on rhyming free association that motivates grammar. lesbian desire. In the context of a series of letters that are all addressed to identifiable correspondents "in the world. A more fanciful reader may well hear the rumblings of aggression towards an unidentified rival. Such a formulation makes this erotic letter function ironically. Montagu addresses the same unnamed lady she will also write concerning the famous scene at the hammam. as a crypto-lesbian mode of communication when circulating in the harem or the bathhouse. or even professional caution.

exempt from cares. with special laws and freedoms. 'Tis very easy to see they have more Liberty than we have.paradoxical truth. I look upon the Turkish Women as the only free people in the Empire" (L. 406) Western observers often considered the Sultan's seraglio a state- within-a-state. who are (perhaps) freer than any Ladys in the universe. or with the long descriptions of Turkish street culture that some other authors provide. which "gives them entire Lib- Srinivas Aravamudan 79 . she will reiterate the following distinctive belief: "Upon the Whole. Her gendered opinion on the topic refutes masculine predecessors such as Aaron Hill. However. LEVANTINIZINGWOMANHOODAND THE LIMINALITYOF THE HAMMAM Montagu is relatively unconcerned in her letters with the multiple constructions of masculinity. their whole time being spent in visiting. (L. to provide all women-with an escape from social ties by means of negativity and anonymity. I can say like Arlequin. and are the only Women in the world that lead a life of unintterupted pleasure. she thinks. Now I am a little acquainted with their ways. I cannot forbear admiringeither the exemplary discretion or extreme Stupidity of all the writers that have given accounts of 'em. 329). 'tisjust as 'tis with you. or the agreable Amusement of spending Money and inventing new fashions.25 In the course of this levantinization. especially because it will be seen as providing aristocratic Turkish women-and ought. that Lady Mary will envisage Turkish women as possessing. The interplay between nudity and masking will fascinate her. and the TurkishLadys don't commit one Sin the less for not being Christians. the permanent possibility of fiction. 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 TurkishLadys. bathing. (L.26 Montagu relies on the relativism of a character in an Aphra Behn play who forces others to modify their perceptions: As to their [Turkishwomen's] Moralityor good Conduct. her desire for liminality impels her to describe the "secret" female interiors of the harem and the bathhouse. Montagu's view is remarkably different from the typical Christian propaganda that Islam denies women souls. Rather. 327-28)27 Montagu perceives these women's liberties as arising from the "perpetual Masquerade" of the veil.

326).erty of following their Inclinations without danger of Discovery" (L. According to her. sexual agency occurring without concomitant object-status. "Fatima" may well be a composite fiction idealizing Turkish femininity. that there is no distinguishing the great Lady from her Slave" (L. This position structurally reverses the condemnation of the German beauties' empty artificiality I discussed in the previous section. subsequently identified as Hafise Kadinefendi. Wearing these clothes herself. she is full of praise for the Turkish aristocratic women she encounters. "the Kahya's lady" (L. 328). and is suitably impressed by her continued mourning. she thinks. Montagu is even more rapturous about the beauty of Fatima. and no Man dare either touch or follow a Woman in the Street" (L. I intend to send you my Picture. Montagu proceeds to paint a pen portrait of herself in this fancy-dress identity. The idea of emancipatory female subjectivity commences with her celebrated letter on the nudity of the women in the bathhouses at Sophia. It is no surprise that the passage celebrating "perpetual Masquer- ade" 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. and the seem- ingly generalized public privileges of women abiding with few corresponding obligations. She visits the widow of the previous Grand Vizier. Her portrait in lavish Turkish costume was subsequently painted by Charles Philips. By formally placing herself in this clothing. these women are even magically exempt from the gradations of class within female identity: "You may guess how effectually this disguises them. paradoxically enhances their unfettered psychological agency. 328). 328). The compulsory "disguise" that women wear in the primary public sphere. and is sustained throughout her stay in Turkey by the impressions she receives upon making courtesy calls to the resi- dences of a few aristocratic Turkish women. The use of the veil in public. a restriction that keeps their participa- tion within it to an unindividuated minimum. 349). in the mean time accept of it here" (L. created with the explicit purpose of seducing the reader with levantinized accounts of Turkish womanhood and the fascination its costumes held for 80 Montagu in the Hammam . Montagu levantinizes female subjectivity existing without subjection. enables a radical freedom from interpellation: "'Tis impossible for the most jealous Husband to know his Wife when he meets her. th6 I beleive you would be of my opinion that 'tis admirably becoming. Montagu signals the fantasy elaboration of levantinization: "I am now in my Turkish habit.

de Clerambault. The bath- house letter to an unnamed lady. Fatima is at peace despite her sequestration within a world of fountains and gardens. the gossip such letters relay may sug- gest. Montagu mentions meeting both these ladies on two separate occasions. the bathhouse is the Turkish woman's riposte to the Englishman's coffee house. For Montagu. 314) One can discern a fine balance in this passage between the contain- ment of Jervas's painterly masculine gaze and the subversion of the ongoing autonomous female activity. if not explicitly contain. In it. a minor prose classic that inspired several painters such as Ingres. etc.28 Montagu's levantinization of Turkish clothing creates similarly heterogenous effects. As Joan Copjec suggests provocatively in her interpretation of the thousands of photographs of veiled women taken by G. Scandal invented. Montagu articulates a central paradox: aristocratic Turkish Muslim women are naked but not immodest. languid but not unproductive. even if this activity is as seemingly innocuous as the relay of news and the invention of scandal. others drinkingCoffee or sherbet. comes to us riddled with feints concerning anonymity. 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 pritty manners. With the help of one remarkable scene. and is obviously very taken with the dignity of Hafise's mourning and the reciprocal warmth of Fatima's friendship (L. surrounded by impeccable female com- pany. (L. G. In short. some in conversation. the sexual confessional flavor of diarists such as Pepys and Boswell. the photographer sometimes disavows lack by positioning himself as the gaze of the Moroccan Other.Montagu. Englishwomen could not them- selves come up with an alternative to the coffee house's resolutely masculine monopoly of sociopolitical space. it would have very much improv'd his art to see so many fine Women naked in different postures. Idealized descriptions of meetings with beautiful people are fairly typical of eighteenth-century letters written with an eye to posthu- mous publication. However. some working. Montagu negotiates the revelation of women's interiors. where all the news of the Town is told. Turkish women's clothing obsesses her. free but not licentious. 380- 86). However. The exclusively male preserve of the coffee houses has been identified by historians of Srinivas Aravamudan 81 . If the painter "Gervase" (Jervas) could look upon the bath. tis the Women's coff6e house. her Western gaze that fetishizes Levantine clothing does not automatically occupy the position of the colonialist subject.

This Turkish bagnio perhaps simulates the Habermasian sphere of the development of communicative freedom. 313).modernity as a vital innovation that created a public sphere of free political discussion that led to the invention of liberal democracy. 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 Curios- ity. this women's world is not devoted to the efficiency-oriented syntax of muscular masculinity. 313). the face would be hardly observ'd" (L. as does Ingres' famous tableau reminiscent of a keyhole voyeur. Montagu's language mimics the traditional masculine gesture of voyeuristic penetration with the gaze. Lady Mary nonetheless claims to remain doubly unreadable. that if twas the fashion to go naked.29 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. 313). The narrator in this letter is aware of her anomalous position even before she vicariously adopts "Jervas's"male gaze. Le bain turc (1862). but the expanded time of productive leisure (witness the parataxis of the simultaneous activities: conversing. heavily influ- enced as it is by Montagu's account of the hammam. she has not yet reached Constantinople and acquired the new Turkish costume that she speaks of delightedly to Lady Mar. It must be remembered that by desisting from 82 Montagu in the Hammam . but receiv'd me with all the obliging civillity possible" (L. whose masculine participants were also naked while demonstrating their athletic prowess. a gynaecium of unselfconscious but interactive female nudity that she may be contrasting implicitly with the exclusionary masculine pre- serve of the Greek gymnasium. And she observes that the heat had been bothering her. drinking. demure in her "travelling Habit. braiding). lying down." Montagu visualizes an inclusive women's sphere at the bath. 314). This curiosity will soon take the form of solicitude. The alternative Turkish women's public sphere possesses a hedonistic atmosphere within which slaves enable their mistresses' desultory enjoyment of quasi- erotic pleasures: "Braiding their [ladies'] hair in several pritty man- ners. an irony that many readers have missed. However. 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. which is a rideing dress" (L. At this point. working. making it "impossible to stay there with one's Cloths on" (L.

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. 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. I was at last forc'd to open my skirt and shew them my stays. 314)30 There are several contrivances in this passage other than the one Montagu attributes to her husband. as such activity would compromise her identity as "Lady" Mary. Srinivas Aravamudan 83 . making for an eventual closure of the parentheses. It is at this moment. which contrivance they attributed to my Husband. Lady Mary contrives not to be undressed for her English audience. 313). In continuing to maintain herself in full dress. doubly bound as her body is by her lingerie. A superficial and a subcutaneous reading of social convention diverge from one another. She has pulled off a brilliant improvisation. 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. By banking on Turkish cultural misapprehension. she narrowly escapes the sacrifice of her English virtue. she appears both dignified and ridiculous. she is also in a fictional double bind. The inversion of the voyeuristic position becomes part of the tableau she sketches. 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. However. 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. they being all so earnest in perswadingme. successfully negotiating the Scylla of offending her Turkish hosts and the Charybdis of scandalizing her English readers. unchanged and fully dressed. (L.joining in the fun the narrator is also maintaining her modesty for the English audience. imprisoned by her own culture. perhaps. I excus'd my selfe with some difficulty. which satisfy'd 'em very well. At least she says that she did not join in. who kept her title and maiden name. Montagu. A fictional parenthesis has opened: Lady Mary maintains that she has entered Turkey. that masquerade begins. when the English lady "decides" not to display her own nakedness to double scrutiny. and the bagnio itself. It is from this part of the Levant that Montagu com- poses her most assertive levantinization.

providing a further contrast with the enigmatic and wide-open unreadability of the characters amidst their exultant freedom in the hammam. For the Turkish women. Having represented the voyeuristic aspects of the scopophiliac complex. By extension.31 Could the bathhouse letter-published much later-also be a com- plex response to the initial erotic attentions of Pope and his subse- quent vilifications? Many of the misogynistic smears by Pope and Horace Walpole concerning the purported lack of physical cleanli- 84 Montagu in the Hammam . ever so slightly. and will then be readily associ- ated with the English pornographic fantasy concerning the oversexed Turkish milieu that confuses harem with hammam. 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 handi- work. Yet. and handcuffs. a straitjacket imposed upon her by a jealous husband. Montagu now takes a quick turn toward exhibitionism. She encourages the perception of this theatricalized cruelty. the autobiographer invents a script. soliciting the concomitant commiseration she will receive from her hosts.She is masquerading in the same costume for two audiences simulta- neously. she has exposed herself. In this sexual traffic. this constriction restricts access to her clothes- bound body. Montagu flaunts her virtue as the truth behind the imaginary mask of her chastity belt. all the while silently disclaiming her moral liability. plays a role. the bondage scene will probably suggest itself as a fictional by-product of the steamy bathhouse atmosphere. The tantalizing unavailability of her straitjacketed body to the Turkish ladies is all too readable within this fictionalized scenario. chains. and for the mixed gaze back in England. However. the subtle effects of this masquerade rebound upon those who are taken in by it. or get to the other end of a room. to the English gaze by revealing a glimpse of her underwear. and peddles an effect. her English stays are an infernal machine. Alexander Pope's erotic focus on Montagu involves his imagin- ing various long-distance liberties with underwear: Let us be like modest people. For the English readers. but if they step a little aside. who when they are close together keep all decorums. Both the viewing Turks and the reading English are led on to fantasize medieval chastity belts on Montagu. can untie garters or take off Shifts without scruple. if not quite whips. Suddenly. The focus shifts to her: she is the fetish for the female gaze at the bath. Perhaps it is not so remarkable a coincidence that during the same time.

and the subjection on the side of she who cannot take them off. Female subjectivity is divided down the middle. are seen as completely unfettered. about which she may not want to complain so directly. as Pope does in his polemic against her as Sappho. Montagu has chosen to interpret herself in imaginary chains. "Sapphism" will suggest itself. Turkish ladies of quality. By maintaining the several senses of constriction that uphold her identity. She is allow- ing the Turkish women to come up with an interpretation of her own limitations. Montagu's quotation of the selam technique that com- bines with a poetic form known as mana used only between women. Montagu's strategy consists of exposing a little in order to escape the possibility of exposing too much. levantinization and masquerade go hand in glove. is nonetheless suggestive of lesbian possibilities. Montagu is not just opposing a domestic perspective to that of the Grand Tour. But the sexual trick makes the bound-over into the binder. but countering the calculated masculine hedonism of the exercise with a female alternative that may.33 A naked Montagu would be sub- jected as no ordinary woman to the strident charge of indecent exposure. revealing agency all on one side and subjection all on the other. just as much as her choice to perform her own subjection is a conscious masquerade. having willingly chosen subjection over agency. underneath it all.ness observed by Montagu could be coded attacks on her chastity following this minor Turkish escapade. The bathhouse letter conceals a challenge to its addressees even as it delivers it. the European aristocratic woman is momentarily rendered the slave. as Clare Brant points out. but in a very different way from the salacious discus- sion by previous male writers with overheated imaginations. be more satisfying for women. the women are "without any distinction of Srinivas Aravamudan 85 . while the object of her reflection. The richer women sit on sofas and their slaves sit behind them.34 In this description of naked interiors. However. Montagu's belief that the Turkish women have agency is a levantinization.35 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.32 In her obsession with women's interiors. It first seems that agency is all on the side of those who can remove their clothes. discussed in the previous section. In the scene at the hammam. Such a charge would in any case be leveled if she published anything.

wedded to a heavy-duty Biblical and epic forebear: "They Walk'd and mov'd with the same majestic Grace which Milton describes of our General Mother" (L. the perdurability of the classical female body rather than the historical variability of clothing. that is. 313). This ambiguous state of nature cannot be the Hobbesian one that Montagu highlights when discussing the wartime devastations of the Austrians and the Ottomans. stark naked.rank by their dress. 313-14). While strictly sexually segre- gated. Abdelwahab Bouhdiba has argued that the baths provided a liminal space where the demarcation between public and private spheres was ritually suspended. one that will be repeated when. angels and demons. Of course. the well-coiffed "figures of the Graces. in plain English. dirt and cleanliness. the hammam becomes the privileged locus for the release of social and political tensions. Montagu finds "none of those disdainfull smiles or satyric whispers that never fail in our assemblys when any body appears that is not dress'd exactly in fashion" (L. between hot and cold water. male and female schedules. 313). it also performed the quotidian function of ritual purification. this is not European court society. as a propaedeutic. soft towels and hard scrubs.38 Bouhdiba demonstrates the struc- tural interplay of oppositions in the activity of the hammam." or even more conventionally for her eighteenth- century eye. without any Beauty or deffect conceal'd" (L. self and other. purity and impurity. who could thus participate in the general nudity and exchange of gazes. the concern here is with an eternal undress." Despite the overlay of Christian iconography.36 Rather. as well as a conclusion. it appears prelapsarian. In his analysis.37 The exact proportions of these latter-day Eves remind Lady Mary of naked goddesses "drawn by the pencil of Guido or Titian. giving her rich gifts even while maintaining their own nakedness. In a brilliant if somewhat idealized anthropological analysis of the history of Levantine Muslim sexuality. In addition to the inevitable develop- mental role the hammam would have played in answering childhood curiosity about the body. There is a dreamlike quality to this perception of the hammam. to the 86 Montagu in the Hammam . the Turkish baths allowed women to bring with them pre- adolescent children of both sexes. nudity in a hammam is tenuously related to the ephemeral notion of fashion. Montagu attends an epithalamium amongst the bathhouse women at Constantinople who welcome a young bride in their midst. before she leaves. as well as the site where a certain Levantine unconscious is constructed. The starkness of the object demands a plain English. all being in the state of nature. interiority and exteriority.

like the developing eighteenth-century domain of "Literature. As the only quasi-public space where the Qu'ran cannot be recited.40 Consequently. thus becoming the transitional site between the carnal and the spiritual. There is a further tease in this overdetermined masquerade at the bath for informed readers. unlike the open Roman balneae. In shifting the traditional masculine European focus from the Turkish harem to the rather different hammam. as one of the sites that allegorizes the unconscious. "going to the hammam" is a popular euphemism for sexual intercourse. The hammam. the decline of ritual symbolic of love. and the rise of the freefloating neoclassical cultural synthesis that Montagu will attempt. underwriting both. served as complex sites for the staging and regulation of sexual desire. The hammam thereby represents a parasexual space for the unfolding of sexuality." as Montagu formally states it. for that matter.39 This is a conversion that signals the advent of modernity and cross-cultural levantinization. as very few of Montagu's English contem- poraries would have apprehended the calculated sexual provocation of the entire episode. one that helped fix the meaning of sex more than sexual acts themselves. 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. Bouhdiba informs us that in Turkish and Arabic. The hammam was an antechamber to the mosque. as well as more generalized allegories for psychosexual interiors within Islamic cul- tures. Architecturally labyrinthine." The scene ends with the following paragraph: Srinivas Aravamudan 87 . the hammam is already a liminal space for Levantine cultures. imbricates the public with the private. the letter from the bathhouse turns into one immense metaphor for the very thing it was trying to skirt around: sexual impropriety. The dreamscape of the bathhouse may suggest a uterine memory of the mother-or the figure of "our General Mother. because of the ritual impurity of the bathers and their surroundings. the en- closed hammams. For Montagu. However. Montagu's own gesture con- verts the liminal communitarianism of the hammam into what Victor Turner characterizes as the "liminoid" genre of free tropological appropriation typical of modern commodity culture. this space serves the additional function of a liminoid secular space much like the coffee house to which she compares it or.

and then publish. even as she tantalizes her readers with the taste of forbidden fruit. Madam. Trying to keep her clothes on in the sweltering atmosphere. Some readers think that Montagu is locked in that infernal machine called orientalism. Ultimately. participated in a liminal situation. Montagu writes her travels from a place with no fixed address and makes sure to indicate that she is a visitor. These are novelties that only a woman can sell: here we have phantasmagorical desires titillated in the face of death. indicative of an autoeroticism that will be made fully public just after her death. and a cultural translator. the power of her narrative is that of its liminoid extrapolation for herself and her readers. Montagu wants to defer her self-exposure rather than deny it. As a transitional figure. by enforcing sexual segregation. She entered women's space as an honorary Turkish woman. Montagu has shown that. Yet. ready to bolt or steal away. The narrator enforces the closure of the fictional parentheses that opened with this episode by insisting on her English femininity kept apart from that of the Ottoman women. The descriptions are memoranda to herself. the English lady in Montagu cannot justify a crossover that involves undress. both of whom may well be mirror-images of Montagu herself. however. marketing it aggres- sively for vicarious consumption. she has run or thrown a levant in the manner of an eighteenth-century gamester. She has crossed and recrossed a ritual threshold. 315) The narrator is instrumentalizing the encounter. Lady Mary calculatedly runs out of steam while still trying to undo her stays. She can perish. the passages describing various female interiors are often written to the unnamed lady. the mas- culine desire for exclusive possession has also ended up dispossess- ing itself. If this was not quite "a room of her own" when she entered the bathhouse. or a social equal. I am sure I have now entertaind you with an Account of such a sight as you never saw in your Life and what no book of travells could inform you of. 'Tis no less than Death for a Man to be found in one of these places. (L. a blank addressee. and natural beauty hawked in lieu of artifice. Montagu claims to have observed more than she has participated in. She may also be doing the equivalent of the Spanish 88 Montagu in the Hammam . Adeiu. As I suggested earlier. More importantly. The narrator has nonetheless created an opening for the fantasy projec- tions and partial identifications of levantinization. even as she maintained her Englishness. the Countess of Bristol. Montagu at least makes sure to emphasize that she went literally where "no Man" had gone before.

to continue the pun with a legalistic eigh- teenth-century phrase. At the initiative of the Princess. who dressed in male drag and fell afoul of her scandalized male peers. more than the substance of her assertions. having already received grudging admiration from even such enemies as Horace Walpole. . After describing the process in detail. a set of old Women . . and subsequently her daughter. AND CRITICAL While the bathhouse dreamscape spills over into Montagu's de- scriptions of the aristocratic women she meets."levantar la casa. yet the negative exposure she feared in 1718 came about very differently. the year before leaving for Turkey. after the letters were published following her death in 1763.42 Montagu reports in one of the letters that the disease is rendered "entirely harmless by the invention of engrafting . INOCULATIONS: MEDICAL. it is most likely the same female environment in which Montagu learned the major medical innovation with which she is credited: popularizing the technique of smallpox inoculation in England after observing its widespread use in Turkey. Montagu convinced Queen Caroline. the lucidity of her stylistic masquerade could be said to have won the day. it was common in that environment to find female herbalists. as a site for multiple hygienic and aesthetic functions. Not a regular herself. and positively in her favor. Unlike Colley Cibber's daughter Charlotte Charke. when she received a compli- mentary review from Smollett.41 Several decades after her trip. Montagu inoculated her son. "levant and couchant" there. she claims to be "Patriot enough to take pains to bring this usefull invention into fashion in England" (L. . magicians. whereby six condemned prisoners at Newgate Srinivas Aravamudan 89 . . the strong resistance to this technique was countered by a public experiment in 1721. Montagu's own face had been scarred after a life- threatening attack of smallpox in 1715. was also a place where therapeutic practices were carried out. even while she was the object of antifeminist public polemics resulting from her sponsorship of the technique. and medical practitioners. The bathhouse. make it their business to perform the Operation" (L. SYMBOLIC. then Princess of Wales." breaking up housekeeping. to inoculate her daughters. Montagu need not be. or the threat of female authorship she represented. Her pioneering dissemination of this technique of inocula- tion occurred at considerable personal risk. Montagu succeeded at an understated self-exposure by masquerading as herself. 338). 339). She has collapsed her self-exposure with those of the Turkish women she exposes.

444) 90 Montagu in the Hammam . that I may forget the enlivening Sun of Constantinople. However. I think the honest English Squire more happy who verily beleives the Greek wines less delicious than March beer. at a symbolic level. Witness the following comment in her penultimate letter of the series. the travels themselves serve a cultural function that resembles. since it coincidentally pro- vides a symbolic model for English cultural retrenchment. one that stalls a disease by subjecting the body to a weaker version of it. I pray God I may think so for the rest of my Life.were induced to undergo the inoculation by the promise of a reprieve if they survived. a resituation that Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner call "reaggregation. after having seen part of Asia and Africa. the homeopathic act of inoculation.45 She will symbolically inoculate herself against the temptation of cultural passing. Travel narrative. and that. and since I must be contented with our scanty allowance of Daylight.44 Montagu's act of deliberate cultural blinkering following a heady and disorienting experience denotes the narrator's resituation in cultural and social matrices. addressed to the Abb6 Conti. Montagu's return with the actual technique of inoculation represents a masterstroke. (L. one thus protects it against the risk of a generalized subversion. despite the obvious deficiencies of such reaggregation: And. 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 1798.43 As the one obvious practical benefit gained from her travels. which shuts down the search for betterment by conscious reidentification with English- ness. and allmost made the tour of Europe. in short. Roland Barthes defines symbolic inoculation as follows: One immunizes the contents of the collective imagination by means of a small inoculation of acknowledged evil. 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. the betterment of the health of English children through smallpox inoculation seems an anomalous by-product of Letters from the Levant. after flirting with cultural crossover. there is no perfect Enjoyment of this Life out of Old England. becomes a complicated acknowledgement of the superior- ity of the return home." 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.

Rather than pandering to a perpetual desire for novelty-some- thing that can be witnessed in the early eighteenth-century attitudes expressed in uninformed tourist literature-Montagu's travel writ- ings reorient the reader toward her idea of a stable antiquarian classicism. the narrator steps back to reflect on the cultural advantages and perils of linguistic multiplicity. Montagu resorts to expressing her anxiety about losing the mother tongue: I am allmost falln into the misfortune so common to the Ambi- tious: while they are employ'd on distant. By means of a territorial metaphor with political implications. or overstate the case in favor of her radical brilliance." Listing a bewildering multiplicity of the languages spoken around her (spoken languages in addition to Srinivas Aravamudan 91 . Such a move. A systematic practice of cultural perception.46 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. it would be too easy to either accuse Montagu of an avoidance mechanism. Following the sexual tease of the letter to the unnamed lady describing the secret selam techniques. This symbolic inoculation against the temptation of an elsewhere is not wholly relevant to Montagu. and assimilate the other. does operate behind the desultory facade of Montagu's epistolary production. 390) In Constantinople. I am in great danger of loseing my English. comprehend. rather than the immediate justifications of a burgeoning one under the British. invested in the historiographical "re-turn" that Michel de Certeau has astutely analyzed as the reinvention of the past. However. who ended up spending a large part of her later years in Italy. it is one more instance of the sophisticated textual outcome of Montagu's levantinized speculations and projections. she "live[s] in a place that very well represents the Tower of Babel. (L. a Rebellion starts up at home. returning to England just before she died. circumscribes the very real limits of Montagu's own sense of her attempt to reach. in the manner that I have sketched. 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. But from the vantage of her own historical moment. In retrospect. insignificant Conquests abroad.

where I'll assure you (with greife of heart) it is reduce'd to such a small number of Words" (L. is one of the first signs of the culture shock from which Montagu wishes to cushion herself. as one recent reading has done. 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. woefully illiterate "in the perpetual hearing of this medley of Sounds" (L. and compla- cent English society and its attitudes. even as she wants to exacerbate the shock to increase its heuristic value for what she often implies is a jaded. as a matter of course. Montagu turns to an archaeological stance of classicism and cultural antiquarianism as a compromise strategy for mediation between differences. such as the code of flowers. At the end of her travels.private ones. masking. I am extremely mortify'd at the daily decay of it in my head. 390-91). multiethnic. but correspondingly. and multireligious populations in a manner that would have bewildered the still provincial English. I have attempted here to reinterpret her ideological levantinization of the Levant-produced by her text's unsteady mixture of whiggism and neoclassicism. Montagu fears that the natives of Constantinople end up being astonishingly multilingual and cosmopolitan. after encountering an Ottoman empire that tolerated the social mixture of multinational. which she still wants to keep as a prima inter pares. 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.48 Montagu's 92 Montagu in the Hammam . or an unthinking practitioner of oppressive aestheticization. Her cautious celebration of heterogeneity is tempered by a fear of the loss of English identity." and the equally worrisome contemporary prospect of the loss of that very identity: "As I prefer English to all the rest. Rather than belabor Montagu's writings with the blunt accusation of orientalism.47 Linguistic alienation. 390). or naively celebrate it as twentieth-century feminism. and so on) and the multifarious ethnicities of her servants and ambassadorial retinue. 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. provincial. Such an approach to Montagu could lead us to appreciate the nuanced nature of her contemporaneity. which can be read as proto-feminist or proto-orientalist by different readers.

Her archaeological classicism. see The Eastern Europe Collection series (Arno Press and the New YorkTimes. 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 syncre- tism. in a manner that cannot be readily deciphered through ideological litmus tests. Despite its open- ness. However. Montagu's feminism is itself implicated in the masquerade of the aggression and deference that Joan Riviere designates as a certain pathology of womanliness.49 As the orientalist hy- pothesis argues. another substantive feature of Letters from the Levant that I have been unable to discuss at length here. John edition. her imbrication within orientalisms largely revitalizes a neoclassical synthesis of Occident with Levant that is progressive and inclusionary. is to decide categorically whether she won or lost the intellectual levant she threw to her contemporaries.50 Having thrown her levant. or delusively celebrate her success merely because her writing does not foreshadow high orientalism. On the other hand. for the wager that the benign play of differences characteristic of humanist orientalisms could lead to transcultural understanding. This tactic largely disavows the Manichaean dialectic of self and other characteristic of high orientalism. 1 For a facsimile reprint of the writing participates at once in feminisms and orientalisms. to assimilate Montagu to that failure. Karen Lawrence. However. Montagu eventually absconds to the Continent. Fifty-two letters form the corpus of Letters from the Levant. concentrates on a Levantine neoclassical and Islamic heritage. University of Utah NOTES I would like to thank RanjanaKhanna. Tom Stillinger. this humanist dream of a transcultural understand- ing on an equal footing did not subsequently happen. Kathryn Stockton. 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. 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. and these letters have been deemed an Srinivas Aravamudan 93 . and is finally published after her death in a manner ensuring her literary success. and BarryWeller for their help with earlier versions of this essay. 1971).

2 I take my definition of fantasy from Jean Laplanche and Jean-Baptiste Pontalis. 1960). 1688-1804. see Judith Butler. See Mary 94 Montagu in the Hammam . James Donald. The most reliable scholarly edition of the letters is that by Robert Halsband. For the most detailed account of the manuscript sources and the anecdotal history of the eventual publication of the work. ed. as well as Tom Jones. 1925). 1992). finding extant instances of resistance. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Her Times (New York: Putnam. introduction Clare Brant (London: Everyman. Lewis Melville. Two editions currently in print are Selected Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu." as I define it." Formations of Fantasy.autonomous literary piece within the larger context of Montagu's complete letters (as they were kept separately in albums commemorating her Levantine travels). is to articulate the agency of the colonized. Unless otherwise specified. Robert Halsband and Isobel Grundy (Oxford: Clarendon. ed. 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 epistemo- logical objects rather than merely from the mechanisms of power or authority that are deemed to generate it. 1928). 4See Srinivas Aravamudan. 267-68. and Letters. ed. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Her Life and Letters (London: Hutchinson. see Embassy to Constantinople: The Travels of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. In this respect. "Trop(icaliz)ing the Enlightenment. ed. As part of the conceptual apparatus of my forthcoming book entitled Tropical Figures: Colonialist Representation and Anticolonial Agency. 1977). 1988)." Tropicalization enables postcolonial readers to reappropriate colonialist metropolitan discourses and practices through a genealogy that attends to resistance as well as oppression. The ethical imperative of anticolo- nial/postcolonial reading. Portrait of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (London: Ernest Benn. 1993). "levantinization" is a process allied with the more general mechanism of "tropicalization. 1986). The finished letters are most likely pseudo-letters recomposed from earlier heads of letters that Montagu had also kept. The Penguin edition unfortunately does not contain all the Turkish letters. and creatively exploring them as alternative reading strategies. For earlier biographies. therefore. 5-34. and Fielding's The Lottery. and Cora Kaplan (New York: Methuen.. The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. see George Paston. "Tropicalization. 1907).3 (Fall 1993): 48-68. "Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality. whereas the more complete reprint of the 1906 Everyman edition occasionally contains some spurious text from corrupt editions. The Life of Mary Wortley Montagu (New York: Oxford Univ. If colonialism rendered the colonized as so many tropical figures of epistemological and political subjection. a postcolonial reading tropicalizes these figures. Victor Burgin. see Robert Halsband. 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon. Press. and Iris Barry. rather than merely theorize from the position of the colonizer. 3 The OED's examples of this usage come from Vanbrugh and Gibber's The Provincial Husband. see Essays and Poems and Simplicity A Comedy. For a recent lavishly-illustrated edition. 1986)." Diacritics 23. Christopher Pick (London: Century Hutchinson. page numbers will be cited parentheti- cally in the text and abbreviated L. all citations will follow the first volume of the Halsband edition of The Complete Letters. For the remainder of Montagu's collected writings. Robert Halsband (Harmondsworth: Penguin. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of 'Sex' (New York: Routledge. For a lucid discussion of this definition. ed. 1965). bears a family resem- blance to the term "transculturation" that Mary Louise Pratt adopts from the work of Cuban sociologist Fernando Ortiz and Uruguayan critic Angel Rama.

1990). According to this reading." Formations of Fantasy. and William B. 80-113. Women and Ro- mance: The Consolations of Gender in the English Novel (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Islam. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge. 1- 17. The romance genre that Lowenthal criticizes Montagu for using has also been credited with liberatory power by recent deconstructionist. Dramas. Fanny Davis. Press. and had their own palaces. trans. it is necessary to look for more appropriate background. Even though Lowenthal is correct in insisting that Montagu's account is distorted for seeing only the agency and not the subjection. Ros Ballaster. Fanny Davis argues that women Sultans (daughters of Sultans who were also addressed by the same title) unlike typical Turkish women of the period. 1994). Deniz Kandiyoti. and Victor Turner and Edith Turner. 1-13. and Michael Nerlich. Warner. Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fiction from 1684-1740 (Oxford: Clarendon 1992). "'Trash. of Minnesota Press. and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. "Womanliness as Masquerade. Flow.Louise Pratt. 45-61." ELH 59 (Fall 1992): 577-96. 6 I use the terminology initiated by Arnold Van Gennep. and Cora Kaplan (New York: Methuen. For the best-known contemporary cultural an- thropologist who uses this terminology. "Joan Riviere and the Masquerade. rather than from psychological interiority imagined through literary representations of novelis- tic "characters. 22-47. purportedly antifeminist genres of pictorial repre- sentation and seventeenth-century romance. Trumpery. Monika B. Collected Papers: 1920-1958 (New York: Karnac Books. trans. walked around. James Donald. Laurie Langbauer. and the State. 1992). The Ideology of Adventure: Studies in Modern Consciousness. shopped. Press. Deniz Kandiyoti (Philadelphia and London: Temple Univ. 1987). ed." Rice University Studies 60 (Summer 1974): 53-92. "The Classification of Rites. 1986). Isobel Grundy. 1986). and the State." Lowenthal's nuanced reading of Montagu's epistolarity within the contexts of eighteenth-century genres interprets Montagu as aestheticizing Turkish women through the interlocking. "Liminal to Liminoid. feminist. 1991). Stephen Heath." Eighteenth-Century Fiction (1993): 293-310. Press. in Play. Ruth Crowley (Minneapolis: Univ. Fields. 1100-1750. Ros Ballaster." in The Rites of Passage. 1960). For instance. of Georgia Press. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. ed. 94. Isobel Grundy. Judith Srinivas Aravamudan 95 ." in Women. went out. and Ritual: An Essay in Comparative Symbol- ogy. 1978). The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918 (New York: Greenwood Press. Michael Nerlich. See Cynthia Lowenthal. Montagu's "stopped-action" scenes arrest the feminine at the moment of reemergence into self and transcendence. Lowenthal cites normative Islamic law from orientalist sources as the proof of Turkish women's oppression. A faulty extrapolation from the personal freedoms that women of this milieu possessed may partly account for Montagu's assertions concerning all Turkish women. Victor Burgin. and Idle Time': Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Fiction. 1974). Press and Macmillan. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter (Athens: Univ. Laurie Langbauer. "The Elevation of the Novel in England: Hegemony and Literary History. 7 See Joan Riviere. and Marxist critics such as William Warner. Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspec- tives (New York: Columbia Univ. 5 Cynthia Lowenthal suggests that the agency of the Turkish women described by Montagu arises from the performative effects of sexual segregation. 1991). 6. Caffee (London: Routledge. Nationalism." in The Inner World and Joan Riviere. "End of Empire: Islam. However. see Victor Turner.

It is more plausible that idealism. 1958). 1660-1800 (Berkeley: Univ. (London. One of the recent attempts to provide a longer literary-historical perspective to travel narrative in the Western tradition has been Mary B. progressive. in its emphasis of a will-to-abstraction and search for the animating ideological essences behind putatively discrete literary genres. and skepticism-associated by McKeon as equivalent to aristocratic. 10 Montagu's joint reference to Knolles and Rycaut makes it likely that she was familiar with the sixth edition of Richard Knolles. Campbell demonstrates that early travel writing is a fluid and all-inclusive origin for the developments that led to the genres of historiography. 1686). 1634). Such a hypothesis relies on an idealization of the intentions of readers and writers of this genre. See Michael McKeon. can be applied more usefully in a scaled-down dialogical fashion to specific texts. Voyage into the Levant (London. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge. " See Aaron Hill. I am inclined to disagree with his character- ization of "naive empiricism" as the content of a "progressive" ideology of eigh- teenth-century travel writing. Pleasurable Instruction: Form and Convention in Eighteenth-Century Travel Literature (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. 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. was appended to this folio edition. 1990). 1978).." "naive empiricism" and "extreme skepticism" suggested by Michael McKeon as formative of novelistic discourse. Sir Paul Rycaut. 400-1600 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. English Travellers in the Near East (London: Longman. Some other well-known travels to Turkey before Montagu's are Sir Henry Blount. her account is cultural-relativist in a manner that presents us with a dialogical rather than the dialectical relationship between the categories of "ro- mance idealism. Batten. While the categories generated by McKeon are pedagogically very useful. Press of Kentucky. Origins of the English Novel 1600-1740 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Travelers and Travel Liars..Butler. appropri- ated by readers and writers of all ideological persuasions. and conservative eighteenth-century ideologies-are dialogically re- lated to each other at microtextual moments in the reading process of the genre of travel narrative. and the novel. Press. containing a description of the Turkish Empire (London. The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing. For a brief description of seventeenth-century travelers to Turkey. with readings of Passing and Paris is Burning. 1962). of Cali- fornia Press. A Relation of a Journey begun AD 1610. Adams. 50-54. 1615). The Turkish History. see Percy G. 1988). A Full and Just Account of the Present State of the Ottoman 96 Montagu in the Hammam . 1983). to the Growth of the Ottoman Empire . 1687). from the Original of that Nation. The Present State of the Ottoman Empire Containing the Maxims of the Turkish Polity (London. However. spiritual autobiography. Campbell. Jr. 1987). 8 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.. For more exhaustive treat- ments of the volume of travel writing especially in the eighteenth century. Butler addresses race substantially in Bodies that Matter (note 2). empiricism. and George Sandys. and Charles L. see Robin Fedden. McKeon's macrotextual neo-Hegelian Marxism. 9 Thus. Press. After all. Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel (Lexington: Univ. travel narrative was the idiom of the moment. 103-13.

By Addison. 14 Montagu criticizes Addison's distracting foray into romantic subplot. 5 vols. 1975). such as that of the hale and hearty Jack Tar who manages to have sex with the women in a harem for ten days before he is discovered and flees. Steele. 4th ed. the fourth would have ruined me. (London. and some Women have suffered a Life of Hardships with as much Philosophy as Cato traversed the Desarts of Africa. 1709). The same charge will also be repeated by Addison. and the sixth would have starved me (Halsband. Similar to Astell and Defoe in her advocacy of women. to go through any Toil or Danger (27). See Montagu.. Woman Not Inferior to Man: By Sophia. extravagant. ed. All subsequent references will be to this edition. rpt. 556-61). Spectator 288 (30 January 1712). negligent.Empire in all its Branches (London. and points out that Juba and Syphax are too close to Othello in their characterization. or have spent much time in grieving for an insolent. my second was nothing to me. in The Spectator." published in Curll's Miscellanea. Robert Halsband (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. (Oxford: Clarendon. the fifth tormented me. Montagu also anonymously penned a marvelous diatribe against husbands in Spectator 573 (28 July 1714). splenetick. insignificant. 1965) 3:22. is credited to her by Halsband (Life [note 1]. A Person of Quality (1739. 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. 1705). London: Brentham. which is enough for the human Mind that is touched with it. Donald F. and Others. Montagu speaks of the stoic qualities of women: As much Greatness of Mind may be shewn in Submission as in Command. 121). my first insulted me. or covetous Husband. cited parenthetically in the text and abbreviated S. 74). Essays and Poems [note 1]. 12 See Jean Dumont. She finds Shakespeare's Julius Caesar much better in its compression. and upholds classical Aristotelian notions concerning the unity of action. Bond. "An Essay on the Mischief of Giving Fortunes with Women in Marriage. 4:515-18. Another protofeminist piece. ed. whereas the sexually more sophisticated French Ambassador's secretary is apprehended and severely bastinadoed-whipped on the soles of his feet-for attempting a similar libertine escapade (112-15). Montagu was also in favor of a female academy. Press. published in a folio edition with massive support from influential subscribers. 1947). '3 Montagu is credited by her biographer Robert Halsband with the authorship of a pseudonymous feminist pamphlet. She also recommends stronger libertarian rhetoric throughout the play ("[Critique of Cato] Srinivas Aravamudan 97 . Also see the feminist theme of the sixth issue of Montagu's shortlived periodical. The periodical achieved greater prominence as it was reprinted in the London Magazine. A New Voyage to the Levant. my third disgusted me. and without that Support the View of Glory offered him. in a satiric reply to a letter about a club of nine widows in Spectator 561 by Addison (30 June 1714) (S. The Nonsense of Common-Sense (1736). Hill will regale readers with burlesque nation- alist accounts.

(Oxford: Clarendon. Montagu's intellectual profile seems. and that whilst it is surfeited with Male Travels. according to the receiv'd sense. in The Tatler.. Adison" [1713]. closer to the reassured aristo- cratic cadences of Margaret Cavendish than to the precarious commercially- influenced improvisations of Aphra Behn. impertinent. 15 See Lisa Lowe. Montagu will write in favor of economic nationalism and an anti- 98 Montagu in the Hammam . and Conceited Creature. "The Politics of Female Authorship: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Reaction to the Printing of Her Poems. Astell endorses Montagu with a feminist riposte: I confess I am malicious enough to desire that the World shou'd see to how much better purpose the LADYS Travel than their LORDS. Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. 1:115-19). 16 Despite their empiricist investments. 1987). 1: 144-47. suppress'd at the desire of Mr. . in Halsband. as does the celebrated example of Gulliver's Travels (1726). the young Montagu will defend learned women to Gilbert Burnet: There is hardly a character in the World more Despicable or more liable to universal ridicule than that of a Learned Woman. and 31 (5 April 1711) (S. a tatling. of Chicago Press. vain. who wrote an autograph preface to Letters from the Levant that was eventually published with the 1763 edition. Bond. The Persian Letters (1721). but it must be a very superficial degree of it (L. For a careful historical account of Montagu's authorship. The Celebrated Mary Astell: An Early English Feminist (Chicago: Univ. Them words imply. a Lady has the skill to strike out a New Path and to embellish a worn- out Subject with variety of fresh and elegant Entertainment .. (L.. in some ways. all in the same Tone and stuft with the same Trifles.. I beleive no body will deny that Learning may have this Effect. that they may the more decry / Women .Wrote at the Desire of Mr. was the possibility of endless decontextualization that rendered the strange familiar." The Book Collector 31 (1982): 19-37. Astell. as exemplified by Lord Lyttelton's Persian Letters (1735). ed. I read with transport. "Let the Male-Authors with an envious eye / Praise coldly.. wrote commendatory verses that read. 1986). 51. see Isobel Grundy. 17 See Spectator 28 (2 April 1711). both authentic and bogus. as did Montesquieu's satire structured as a collection of pseudo-letters. 1s See Tatler 18 (21 May 1709). Press. who died in 1731. let her own Sex at least do her Justice. and with Joy I greet / A genius so Sublime and so Complete. in short. 1991). Essays and Poems. or the familiar strange. 62-68). Donald F. 466). one of the persistent antirealist effects sought out by seemingly realist travel accounts. 1:117.. 467) For an account of the admiration the two women had for each other. Let the Men malign one another. and Spectator 28 (2 April 1711) (S. Montagu had also maintained friendships with women such as Mary Astell. 270-71. see Ruth Perry. 19 Later. In 1710. Horace Walpole's Letter from Xo-Ho (1757) and Goldsmith's Citizen of the World (1762). / And gladly lay my Laurels at her Feet" (L. 129). 45). Pseudo-letters involving foreign topoi would end up as a dominant eighteenth-century mode. Wortley. Montagu's self-validation against male travel writers is also discussed here (35-52).

He says. [is] reduced now to a very low Ebb. gold. containing the art of expressing one's thoughts without seeing. by the Luxury and ill Taste of the Rich. and the irresponsible mimicry of Continental fashion has to stop: [The] regulation of the present Mourning. 20 A sudden rage for this technique developed subsequently in England. 1688). Both codes use a two-step rhyming displacement to disguise a concept. 1989). nonetheless. "covered with the warm Produce of our native Sheep. Press. colors. an otherwise obscure French author. Du Vignau published Le secrdtaire turc contenant l'art d'exprimer ses pensees sans se voir. despite its very different commercial origins. similar to the boycotts that Swift recommends to the Irish.Mandevillean position on luxury. Le secrdtaire turc is. as were the hieroglyphs for the Egyptians before the alphabet was invented" (10-11). For an account of eighteenth-century masquerade in terms of the Bakhtinian carnivalesque. appar- ently as a result of Montagu's popularization. who are so accustomed to shiver in Silks. Such codes become formal models for the contingent figuration-or the utopian levantinization-at the heart of cultural representation that has been this article's focus." As can be seen Srinivas Aravamudan 99 . which is so highly Advantageous to the Woollen Manufacture." See Montagu. In 1688. See Alev Lytle Croutier. and almost anything else that is used in daily commercial transactions. Englishwomen ought to wear wool for nine months of the year for reasons of local climate and economics. Such a reorientation of dress will honor the country and benefit the nation. given that she describes some symbolic equivalents that do not exist in Du Vignau's text. fabrics. See Structures du Serail (Paris: Seuil. 3. resins. For instance. 213-20. Harems: Le Monde Derriere le Voile (Paris: Editions Belfond. I have come to the conclusion that Montagu had at least some independent knowledge of the selam techniques. the natural Growth of our own Lands. fruits. "It is reasonable to believe that this [language] derives from the ancient means of communicating through numbers/ciphers [chiffres] and figures." that is converted to the collective noun for "bread. Nonsense (note 13). that they exclaim at the Hardships of Warmth and Decency. the Cockney term "loaf" stands for "head" through a two-step displacement: "head" rhymes with "bread. a comprehensive dictionary with long narrative examples. Du Vignau notes that "flowers. see Terry Castle. et sans s'ecrire [The Turkish writing-desk. and the Support of the Poor. woods. Alain Grosrichard rightly points out that the selam is closer to the rebus than the hieroglyph. enters into the Turks' transactions concerning Love" (6). silver. se parler. After having examined one of the few extant copies of this book. leading to a sympathetic link between the bodies of the gentry and the tenants. silks. 2. and the fantastick Mimicry of our Ladies. She focuses on the great difficulty of deciphering rebuses (mischaracterized by Du Vignau as hieroglyphs). and its tangential reworking of desire according to a free-floating technique of composition is astonishingly similar to Cockney slang. and hence a useful reference tool to understand the code Montagu encountered. talking or writing to one another] (Paris. the staple Commodity of these Kingdoms. 1986)." "loaf. 1979). 22 The secret nature of the selam. Masquerade and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-Century English Culture and Fiction (Stanford: Stanford Univ. 21 Montagu may have had the prior benefit of a full-length study of this Turkish code by Du Vignau. 53.

ed. Press of Kentucky. See Eric Partridge. "It must be said that the Turks have no means of indicating gender. but not so much in England. In this respect. deconstructing the public and the private. L'Islam au Peril des Femmes: Une Anglaise en Turquie au XVIIIe Siecle (Paris: La Decouverte. 23 See Anne-Marie Moulin and Pierre Chuvin. concerning Britaine." from the opposition in Arabic between h'aldl (pure. 25 While "harem. the poetic possibility exists that substitutions could work according to idiosyncratic desires and private equivalences." [mevi]. Witness also Du Vignau. Moore. surnames. For a treatment of Montagu's letters in relation to the techniques of eighteenth-century epistolarity. These designations are conventional. and they say the same words to mean 'a handsome man' and 'a beautiful woman. 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. See Jean Ceard and Jean-Claude Margolin. Correspondence. Rdbus de la Renaissance: Des Images Qui Parlent (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose. 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"). The first syllable will suggest an association: sending the color "blue. 1986). The Converse of the Pen: Acts of Intimacy in the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter (Chicago: Univ. George Sherburn. 1980). and E. the celebrated misogynist examples from My Fair Lady. wisespeeches. my inside attracts you. legal) and h'aram (impure. the same space could be freely visited by women and children. 1:224). La Carte Postale: De Socrates a Freud et Au- deld (Paris: Flammarion. will signify seni medem scheker. also see Bruce Redford.' and the same phrases are used for the (male) lover as for the mistress" (18). 1984). poesis. 1956). 1981). See William Camden. 100 Montagu in the Hammam . the inhabitants thereof. Spectator 59 (8 May 1711) (S. which Addison borrows from for a few comments on the rebus. See The Embassy to Constantinople: The Travels of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (London: Century Hutchinson." The Craftsman 5 (1903-1904): 240. will mean "I'm in love" [Meiloldum] (13). The classic example from Du Vignau (note 21) is as follows: "A cube of sugar. (Oxford: Clarendon. The manuscript circulation of eighteenth-century letters make them much closer to the cryptic openness of the postcard. "Name-devises. and epitaphes (London. 1:368-69. Paul Beale (London: Routledge. 5 vols. 24 For instance. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. ed. ed. Perhaps the English work that dealt most extensively with the concept was Camden's Remaines (1605). See also the apology for punning by John Birch in The Guardian 36 (22 April 1713). "An Essay on the Rebus in Art. 1:250-51). 1982). it is also useful to remember the conceptual pressure put on the philosophical concept of the letter and the postcard by Jacques Derrida. prohibited. of Chicago. 164-67. 1985). John Calhoun Stephens (Lexington: Univ. 26For two contemporary instances of this oft-repeated charge. my heart yearns passionately for you" (12). 1986) and Patricia Meyer Spacks. in The Guardian. and Alexander Pope. Dervla Murphy argues that Montagu's youthful letters to Anne Wortley were actually coded addresses to her then suitor Edward Wortley. 147-50. impreses. names. illegal) designates female-inhabited spaces in a household that were off-limits to any man other than the husband and his eunuchs. their languages." in Remaines of a greater work. 1614). The Picardian tradition of the rebus was a significant genre in France and Italy. which means. 13. however. the fictional and the empirical. known in Turkish as Cheker. see Spectator 53 (1 May 1711) (S. permitted. 1988). Gossip (New York: Knopf.

the ladies invited her to undress. 27 Harlequin in Aphra Behn. and seeing her stays go all round her. On the other hand. there may well be a concealed rejoinder that Montagu is issuing to her marital partner. Carpenter. For some recent analysis of Pope's involvement with Montagu. 29 Ingres copied the bathhouse letter dated 1 April 1717. this may also incidentally suggest that she smelled "high" to her much cleaner Turkish counterparts. and especially the references to her as "old. They all agreed that 'twas one of the greatest barbarities of the world. ed. Furthermore. 18- 19. Press. especially the references to her acquired deformities (30:15). Pope and other Eminent Persons of His Time (London: W. foul. 48 vols. S. For comments on these meetings. The Emperor of the Moon. 133-43. into his diary." Philological Quarterly 71 (1992): 221-37. (London: Heinemann. black blood of Lady Mary" (30:10). 52-64. and Characters of Books and Men. xviii. see Valerie Rumbold. Collected from the Conversation of Mr. Addison and Wortley were very close friends who went on the Grand Tour together for three years. foul. 1989). if the constant references by several enemies to Montagu's lack of hygiene are true. W. H. 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. 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 Sartorial Superego. her morals (9:392). painted. 33 Brant (note 1). Women's Place in Pope's World (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press. She run back quite frightened. 3:383-463. 'That the husbands in England were much worse than in the East. her chateau a mere hovel (23:315). 3' Pope (note 26). in The Works of Aphra Behn. 1915). 22:3). her dirt that ought to put her into quarantine (21:540). I thank Moira Ferguson for suggesting this possibility to me. and on her not making any haste. 230- 31. In another letter. 1937-83). and to bathe with them. nay as those that never girded their loyns at all" (1:353). her dirt and frugality (34:255). 496)." See Joseph Spence. 28The kahya. of the shape of their bodies. 441. 6 vols. (New Haven: Yale Univ. Cynthia Wall. even by the relatively rudimentary standards of the eighteenth-century English aristocracy. Montague Summers. Lady Mary eloped with Srinivas Aravamudan 101 . 1994). Anecdotes. Observa- tions. Three times he mentions that he "detested the Sound of Honest Woman.' She carried 'em to see it. Lewis. and told her companion. 1:384. 30 This episode is also recounted in Spence's anecdotes. one of the prettiest run to her to undress her. 32 See Horace Walpole's Correspondence. for that they tied up their wives in little boxes. see Moulin and Chuvin (note 23). malicious. her coarse and unclean clothes (18:306. and Cynthia Lowenthal (note 5). Pope imagines the indolence and voluptuousness of the seraglio that Montagu may be in as "a very mixed kind of enjoyment" (1:422). See Joan Copjec. and worked from it to produce Le bain turc (L. 65-116. was the second most powerful officer of the empire after the Vizier. "Editing Desire: Pope's Correspondence with (and without) Lady Mary. plastered" (13:234). 1820). and to "the poxed." Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists (Cambridge: MIT Press. tawdry. and Loving Spouse ever since [he] heard the pretty name of Odaliche" (1:364. By implicitly opposing the exclusionary nature of this aristocratic male bonding. ed. You can't imagine her surprise upon lifting my lady's gown. and pitied the poor woman for being such slaves in Europe. her decay (42:507). or steward. and that they were naturally as arrant Squabs as those that went more loose. 310).

the Duke of Pierrepont. 3:65-68. Nonsense (note 13). However. No provocations are given in this Amicable Society. 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. fueled by works such as Charles Ancillon. also undoubtedly contributed to her vilification as "Sappho" by the Tory opposition. and yet amuses them by acting out the incongruity of gender subversion onto their bodies and identities. Here are no serpents to deceive you . subversive. Meanwhile. by authoring a shortlived periodical (a total of nine issues). Montagu is certainly a candidate for the eighteenth- century notion of the female quixote. . and Julia Pardoe. 1718).Wortley after complex negotiations over her marriage settlement failed between him and her father. commencing her defense of women. Maria Skerett.. possibly on Robert Walpole's behalf.. material that Addison used to write two essays on the subject.. Montagu also briefly entered the pamphlet wars. and 223 (12 September 1710) (Bond. 23-28. due to Addison's friendship with Wortley. 34 Montagu's friendship with Robert Walpole's mistress. Curll. x-xviii. utopian". See Montagu. . such as Lady Craven. 38See Abdelwahab Bouhdiba. Hobbs. 197-213. which began in February 1737. 137. 1707). Virtue. I am a good deal inclin'd to beleive Mr. translated as Eunuchism display'd (London: E. and by Matrons in the women's quarters (13-16). The periodical aimed to counter the charges of corruption by Lord Chesterfield and George Lyttelton against Walpole in Common Sense. Rycaut (note 10) will talk at length about the Turkish predilection for homosexuality- calling the Turks "Slaves to this inordinate Passion . whose rebellious unpredictability both alarms those who wish to uphold gender norms. Beauties of the Bosphorus (London. 1656)." See A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (London. 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 . 37John Milton. See Tatler 199 (18 July 1710). that the State of Nature is a State of War" (L. idiosyncratic. and degenerate version of the bathhouse will reappear in the accounts of subsequent female travelers. this is downright Quixotism. Turner speaks of the early modern transition from 102 Montagu in the Hammam .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 . 263-64.. 1789). who later became his wife. quel rang ils ont tenu et quel cas on en a fait (Paris. voluptuous. 1830). La Sexualite en Islam (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. 35See Jean Thevenot. Life (note 1). See also the renewed scientific interest in eunuchs and hermaphroditism.. Writing this still two decades before the publication of Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote. and that I am venturing to engage the strongest part of Mankind with a Paper Helmet upon my Head" (25). for Turner (note 6). Montagu says. 1694). Paradise Lost. quirky. Travels into the Levant (London.. [that] likewise reigns in the Society of Women"-and its policing by eunuchs in the dormitories for youths being trained for high office. 39 The modern structure of the liminoid. Wortley provided Addison with notes against the conduct of mercenary marriages. "I expect to be told. is anonymous or divine in origin. 4. The cloying. and Halsband. A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople (London: G. the premodern liminal in contrast. 64-67. Traite des eunuques dans lequel on explique toutes les diffdrentes sortes d'eunuques. 305). is "experimental. Tatler [note 18]. 1975). 161-65).

253). The Royal Society knew about smallpox inoculation as early as 1700. dedicated to her. she also had her defenders. 43 See Genevieve Miller. shou'd on a sudden. Mythologies. or nation. 1973). However. and Italian" (Preface. The most notorious antifeminist attack on the introduction of the technique was by Wagstaffe: "Posterity perhaps will scarcely be brought to believe. The liminoid is open. 199. S. "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. 66. contained a poem from Aaron Hill's The Plain Dealer on smallpox (for a summary. and Princess Caroline's efforts on her behalf led to the inoculation of orphan children in St. Tom Conley (New York: Columbia Univ. and authored a pseudonymous pamphlet in order to respond to the attacks made on her. amongst an illiterate and unthinking People. as to be receiv'd into the Royal Palace.the "ludergic liminal" to the "ergic liminoid" (36. the inevitable public commodity-status of the letters will end up being deferred rather than altogether denied. Freind Shewing the Danger and Uncertainty of Inoculat- ing the Small Pox (London. Essays and Poems [note 1]." in which she expressed her feelings about the disease (Halsband. A Letter to Dr. trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Hill and Wang. The Writing of History. the technique was considered too dangerous to practice on human subjects until Montagu brought back appropriate methods from Turkey. While Montagu did not publish immediately due to family pressures (despite Mary Astell's strong recommendations). which she showed to Pope. 1722). Montagu wrote an unsigned letter in The Tatler defending the technique." See Critical Review 15 (1763): 426. 40 Bouhdiba (note 38). 1712]. See Montagu's town eclogue. and upon slender Experience. so far obtain in one of the Politest Nations in the World. 5. 203. Richard Savage's Miscellany. trans." See William Wagstaffe. 45-69. 1988). translation mine). James's Parish. The Adoption of Inoculation for Smallpox in England and France (Philadelphia: Univ. and not conceptualized. age. Press. 44 Roland Barthes. 109-11). and Aubrey de La Mottraye had observed it in Circassia. see Halsband. Life [note 1]. 42 See Bouhdiba (note 38). Montagu includes a brief letter to her husband reporting the inoculation of their son (L. See also the letter from "Parthenissa" on the ravages of smallpox (Spectator 306 [20 February. of Pennsylvania Press. "Saturday: The Small Pox: Flavia. However. in relation to the fear of losing his fluency in French after so much listening to "a mixture of various Turkish languages. 392). 3:100-02). 1957). 150. that an Experiment practiced only by a few Ignorant Women. 45Victor and Edith Turner (note 6) describe pilgrimage as "an ordered antistructure of patrimonial feudal systems" (254). optative. demotic Greek. Srinivas Aravamudan 103 . the liminal is a predetermined mid-stage of the process of religious ritual. 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. 46 Michel de Certeau. 41 Smollett will write that Montagu's letters were "never equalled by any letter- writer of any sex. 47 Du Vignau (note 21) too will have a similar reaction. 182). and Moulin and Chuvin (note 23). William Broome wrote a flattering letter saying he would write a poem celebrating her discovery. through John Lister's experi- ments.

1984)." Eighteenth-Century Studies 24 (1991): 433." Women. Pamela. ed. "Race. and I could not help thinking there had been some ancient alliances between them. the colour of their skin. 50 Their posture in siting. their features and the shape of their Limbs. Lew claims that Montagu's "description of how Oriental women subverted order anticipated. 104 Montagu in the Hammam . trans. "Lady Mary's Portable Seraglio. 48 Joseph W. their lank black Hair falling on each side their faces. "The Other Woman: Polygamy. Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker (New York: Routledge. differ so little from their own country people. 1991)." and Writing in the Early Modern Period. Mary J. 1994). Sabbah. by two hundred fifty years the work of feminists such as Mernissi and Abu-Lughod. Lew. 49 As Lisa Lowe (note 15) argues throughout Critical Terrains. 155-57. and Fatna A. tis hard to fancy them a distinct race. 427) For a discussion of this passage. Woman in the Muslim Unconscious (New York:Pergamon. and the Prerogative of Empire. the Baboons. The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam. (L." Such a claim is dubious and rendered further problematic by the continuation of transhistoricalorientalist approaches in some of the feminist criticisms of Islam. Fatima Mernissi. see Felicity Nussbaum. Joseph W. Lakeland (New York:Addison Wesley. heterogeneity and ambivalence is characteristicof the diverse orientalisms present at different histori- cal moments.