Muslims in English-language fiction
in Asia in Western fiction
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This chapter begins with the assumption that there exists in both Western Europe and the USA a set of luridly coloured, highly distorted, yet widely held impressions of the Middle East, and of Muslims in general. By the end of the sixteenth century confrontation between Christians and Muslims in the Mediterranean world was characterised by raids upon each other's shores, piracy and the capture of, and the trafficking in, men and women. Islamic values and life-styles were not necessarily exonerated, but violence and cruelty in an exotic Middle Eastern setting seemed less revolting or more explicable than among Christians. This tendency becomes more pronounced in twentieth-century historical fiction. Frank Yerby's The Saracen Blade (1952) is set in an earlier period, the Hohenstaufen kingdom of Sicily and the Mediterranean world of the early thirteenth century, but the contrast between Christendom and Islam is as great as in The Wanderer.


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