In the new geo-political circumstances that developed in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, and in particular the new prominence of a widely perceived antagonism between Islam and ‘the West’, conversion has once again taken a central role. The much vaunted ‘religious turn’ in early modern studies has followed in its wake, generating new perspectives on the complexities of post-Reformation devotional worlds and their interaction, work that is finding in conversion a means to better understand these worlds and our own. Moving between early modern and modern conversions, with a particular focus upon Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The abduction from the seraglio) as a transitional moment, this Afterword outlines the continuing urgency of the contributions collected in this volume in the context of contemporary debates.
In the search for Sir John Mandeville that occupies Giles Milton's The Riddle and the Knight (1996), Milton identifies a range of connections and differences between the 'religions of the book' (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) with the intention of indicating Christian legitimacy in opposition to misguided Islam and demonised Judaism. Regardless of the nature of Mandeville's reflections, there is no doubt that his presentation of Islam was hugely influential. Milton chooses not to refer to Mandeville's depiction of the Prophet Muhammad; this is the focus of this chapter. The chapter considers the source for a small part of The Travels. It is concerned with the uneven character of Mandeville's conception of Islam and Muhammad. The portrayal of Islam in Mandeville's Travels appears ambivalent - the emphasis upon religious common ground between Islam and Christianity does not demonise with the same polemic found in many contemporary texts.