Zenobia of 1001 nights – Alexander Baron’s novel Queen of the East

Keywords: Zenobia, Alexander Baron, reception studies, British orientalism, exoticism, women in power, historical novel, male gaze, paratext


The central theme of this article is Alexander Baron’s historical novel Queen of the East (GB 1956). The main goal is to prove to what extent the modern author’s description of the heroine, the Palmyrene Queen Zenobia, is shaped by the 19th century discourses of orientalism by which means the ancient ruler is turned into an harem girl. Moreover, the text and its paratexts are interpreted against the background of the 1950s by addressing socio-political, economic, and cultural contexts. As a result, it can be proven that the 1956 portrait of Zenobia serves different purposes: on the one hand her story can be labelled escape fiction for the reader as well as for the author (who had to cope with some identity problems because of his Jewishness), on the other hand the book might be read as a tutorial in contemporary female subordination.

Author Biography

Anja Wieber, derzeit ohne Universitätsanbindung; Mitglied in der Imagines-Gruppe
http://beta.clio-online.de/researcher/id/researcher-1157 (ist nicht ganz auf dem neuesten Stand, was die Publikationen betrifft)