Taken for Wonder focuses on nineteenth century travelogues authored by Iranians in Europe and argues for a methodological shift from the study of travel to that of writing travel. This shift allows for a different interpretive framework that moves away from an over-emphasis on the destinations of travel (particularly in cases where the destination, like Europe, signifies larger meanings such as modernity) and which historicizes the travelogue itself as a rhetorical text in the service of its origin's concerns and developments. Within this framework, this book demonstrates the ways in which travel writings to Europe were used to position Qajar Iran (1917-1925) within a global context, i.e. narration of travel to Europe was also narrating the power of the Qajar court even when political events were tipped against it; and relatedly, how both travel to Europe and also translations of travel narratives into Persian should be included in our understanding of the importance of geography and mapping to the Qajars, especially during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
In this process, it also re-examines the notion that Iranian modernity was the chief outcome of Iranians travelling in and writing about Europe.
Naghmeh Sohrabi is Lecturer in History at Brandeis University.
Acknowledgments ; Notes on Transliteration ; Chapter 1: Writing Travel, Making Genre ; Chapter 2: The Reluctant Tourist: Mirza Abul Hasan Khan and his 'Book of Wonder' ; Chapter 3: Long Day's Journey into Night: Mirza Fattah Khan Garmrudi's accounts of Europe 68 ; Chapter 4: The Traveling King: Nasir al-Din Shah and his Books of Travel ; Chapter 5: A Darvish and a Merchant walk into Europe: The Popularization of Travel of Writing 155 ; Conclusion ; Bibliography