Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 November 2020
The second chapter considers the use of chivalric romance tropes in Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin, an Armenian. Written in English by himself (1792). In Emin’s letters to his Bluestocking patronesses Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Carter, and Catherine Talbot, he plays a humble knight errant or “Persian Slave” as a strategy to master British politeness. In doing so, he befriends patrons such as George Lyttleton, Edmund Burke, and William Augustus Duke of Cumberland, the youngest son of King George II and commander of a German army Emin had joined in 1757. His epistolary interaction with the Bluestockings who coproduced his romantic fantasies allows him to identify Persian-Islamic notions of chivalry with British liberty. His memoir records ironic episodes in which he affiliates with brotherly Muslim warriors during his Islamophobic quest to liberate his people in the Caucasus from Ottoman and Persian despots. Such affinities render him a patriotic English gentleman while his lady friends expand their civic roles by adopting cosmopolitan identities, an exchange that compensates for a British manhood scarred by military failures during the Seven Years’ War.