Postcolonial Reading of Edmond O’Donovan’s The Merv Oasis
In the context of the Great Game and in throes of Geok-Tepe War in Akhal region located in Turkomania, The Daily Mail sends off Edmond O’Donovan to make the reportage of the Russians’ colonial advancement and their clash with Turkmens, but the Russians’ ban on foreign reporters disrupts his initial plan. As a result, he redirects his way to Merv where the Turkmens capture him. His captors ironically receive him both as prisoner and a ruling member for five months. Meanwhile, he registers his observations and experiences there which later appears in his bestseller travelogue entitled, The Merv Oasis. Despite his involvement with British Imperialism, O’Donovan’s travel book has not received any critical attention from scholars of travel studies. In this regard, this article seeks to address their critical negligence by studying it in the spirit of postcolonial approach. This method is invaluable in two ways. Firstly, it discloses the travel writer’s hidden imperial assumptions through focusing on his surveillance and his description of his travelees’ diseases and their medical treatment. Secondly through clarifying the role of travel writer on Othering his travelees when he deals with their food culture and their supposedly exotic bazaar. On the whole, this reading challenges the innocent façade of O’Donovan’s travelogue and points to his imperial assumptions and cultural baggage which tarnish its impartiality and authenticity.
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