Prudence and Prejudice in Maria Edgeworth’s “Murad the Unlucky” (1804)
Set in Turkey, Maria Edgeworth’s Oriental fable “Murad the Unlucky” (1804) derives its atmosphere and ambience directly from the Arabian Nights. Yet, although the tale has enjoyed a small but sustained readership over the centuries, critics have often dismissed it as a late example of an earlier moralistic group of Oriental fictions.
This chapter contends that the overt didacticism of “Murad the Unlucky” belies its engagement with an impressive array of historical, anthropological, and philosophical sources. Overall, in its subtle yet salient scrutiny of the socio-economic realities of the modern East, “Murad the Unlucky” aligns itself more readily to Irish Orientalist modes of representation than those of the British Romantic tradition in which it is generally considered.