Drinking A Dish Of Tea With Sappho Analysis

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Montagu’s relationship to the subsequent formation of Orientalist aesthetics is another relevant area of study. Grundy points to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando as a relevant parallel to Montagu’s experience, arguing it as a potential citation on Woolf’s part. More recently, Alison Winch’s article “‘Drinking a Dish of Tea With Sappho’: The Sexual Fantasies of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Lord Byron” discusses Byron’s reported fascination with Montagu; he supposedly occupied her same Venetian house and later discovered and published previously lost love letters she had written to an Italian count. Winch proposes that this, combined with other writings by Byron, speak to a sort of intellectual obsession on Byron’s part as well as a basis for examining …show more content…
Lady Mary’s internal and external interactions with the orient can only be glimpsed through her surviving letters and portraits. One key means of cultural interaction and perhaps transgression is Montagu’s affection of Ottoman dress, her status permitting her to engage in a form of ethnomasquarade. In his book Fashion and Orientalism, Adam Geczy provides a comprehensive survey of European efforts to appropriate and occasionally assimilate Oriental costume, indicating the origins of Turkish inspired dress lie in the masquerade tradition of southern European courts. This action of trans-cultural costuming is variously interpreted as a means of asserting imperial power, as a further fetishizing of oriental forms, or even as an attempt to assimilate some aspect of Ottoman culture. Again, one returns to the dichotomy of Montagu’s own narrative; she is both a public persona who engages in performative imperialism as well as a private figure romanticizing herself in relation to a transimperial context. Kader Konuk reconciles these interpretations by suggesting that Lady Mary’s ethnomasquerade was merely a rhetorical strategy selected to emulate male narratives and thus lend authenticity to her own account of intercultural contact, and that this episode of mimicry then set the template for all future female travelers to the region. As Lady Mary cast herself as the modern reenactor of classical mythology, future women would construct their journey to the east within the framework of Montagu’s

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