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Humanities 2016, 5(1), 13;

Popular Orientalism: Somerset Maugham in Mainland Southeast Asia

School of Creative Arts and Humanities, Charles Darwin University, Darwin NT 0909, Australia
Academic Editor: Albrecht Classen
Received: 21 December 2015 / Revised: 29 January 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2016 / Published: 5 February 2016
Full-Text   |   PDF [183 KB, uploaded 5 February 2016]


Based on his experiences during a journey through mainland Southeast Asia in 1923, Somerset Maugham wrote a book of colonial travel entitled The Gentleman in the Parlour. As the work of one of the most popular writers of the twentieth century, Maugham’s travelogue both expressed and helped to shape contemporary thinking about Southeast Asia and Western imperialism. Focusing especially on his representations of Burma and Cambodia, an analysis is presented of Maugham’s book in the light of postcolonial scholarship, especially the theoretical insights developed under the inspiration of Edward Said’s Orientalism. Despite its pretensions to be apolitical, Maugham’s travel book is shown to be a repository of Western colonial ideas and attitudes, integrally involved in the circulation of the prevailing European discourse of high imperialism. As such, it is a valuable resource for historians and other scholars who wish to understand the way that discourse worked at the level of popular literature. View Full-Text
Keywords: Orientalism; British imperialism; Maugham; Burma; Cambodia; travel Orientalism; British imperialism; Maugham; Burma; Cambodia; travel
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Doran, C. Popular Orientalism: Somerset Maugham in Mainland Southeast Asia. Humanities 2016, 5, 13.

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