Pierre Loti and the Oriental Woman by Irene L. Szyliowicz

By Irene L. Szyliowicz

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By Irene L. Szyliowicz

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39 Julien chose the first name 'Pierre' for himself apparently because he admired an ancestor, Pierre Viaud, who had been a courageous naval captain, although it has also 26 Pierre Loti and the Oriental Woman been suggested that he took this name during the period of a close friendship with Pierre Le Cor, a fellow sailor. 40 Tahiti and Loti's experiences there made a profound impression on him. His station in life at the time (a newly appointed officer), a new-found recognition of himself, and his susceptibility to sensations and strong emotions contributed to his feeling of freedom.

However, Muslim women fared better in terms of financial security than they did in educational opportunities. Mohammed was very concerned that women be cared for by men, and that they be provided for by their fathers in case they could not marry. As a result, Islamic property law was patterned after Roman law, where women were permitted property ownership. The liberal nature of the law was due to far-sighted ideas that the father might die or the husband might divorce the wife, so she needed to control her property permanently.

Viaud' s liaisons were marked by a singular lack of responsibilityboth in his life and as transmitted into fiction. In the 'Oriental' novels the fictional closure is often death - with the hero leaving his beloved and the young lady dying of a 'broken heart'. In actuality, Julien was too self-involved ever to form a reciprocal relationship with any woman. He was concerned always with the impression he made on others and the power he exercised over them. ' 51 This dichotomy expressed itself in his sexual attitude toward women: he viewed them as serving either a sensual or an intellectual purpose; no woman could serve both.

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