"She had in her nature a rich, voluptuous, Oriental characteristic"
The Sultan's Favorite
Public DomainThe Sultan's Favorite - Credit: Adrien-Henri Tanoux

The romanticization of the “Orient” — the eastern as opposed to the western world — was in full swing in nineteenth century Europe, where art and literature teemed with depictions of Middle Eastern and Asian life that emphasized sensuality, exoticism and the ornate. This trend, which has come to be viewed as a manifestation of western imperialist condescension, was less overt in America but its influence can still be found in the works of nineteenth century literary giants such as Poe and Hawthorne. You can read more about Hawthorne’s particular brand of Orientalism here.

Harem Scene (1899)
Public DomainHarem Scene (1899) - Credit: Oliver Dennett Grover