A contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium on xenophilia, this article examines the travelogue of Mirza Abu Taleb ibn Muhammed Isfahani (1752–1805), the Muslim Indo-Persian scholar, poet, and Lucknow nobleman who sympathized with the Irish during his travels to England and Ireland in 1799–1802. Translated from Persian to English by an Irish scholar working for the British East India Company, Charles Stewart, and published in London in two editions (1810, 1814), The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan records the author's love for the Irish and theirs for him. This mutual xenophilia, the article argues, is politically motivated by Abu Taleb's strong, but mostly tacit, reservations about the English, his imperial patrons. He realigns the relationship between metropole and colony by casting Ireland as the bridgehead of a glorious Islamic-Persianate culture that spread westward, a transcultural fantasy that takes two forms. First, the unconditional hospitality Abu Taleb experiences among his Irish and Anglo-Irish hosts leads him to imagine a linguistic-ethnic kinship between ancient Celts and Persians, recalled in the similarities he sees between a subimperial capital, Dublin, and an Indian Mughal city, Lucknow. Second, in his detailed account of a patriotic performance that he attended in Dublin of the British siege of Seringapatam in 1799, he identifies with the skeptical audience who, he assumes, are self-conscious about this propagandistic medium.
Research Article|April 01 2017