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Return to Book Page. Preview — Dreams of Trespass by Fatema Mernissi. In Dreams of Trespass , Mernissi weaves her own memories with the dreams and memories of the women who surrounded her in the courtyard of her youth -- women who, without access to the world outside, recreated it from sheer imagination.
A beautifully written account of a girl confronting the mysteries of time and place, gender and sex, Dreams of Trespass illuminates what it was like to be a modern Muslim woman in a place steeped in tradition. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published September 4th by Basic Books first published More Details Original Title.
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Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 15, Petra-X rated it it was amazing Shelves: reviewed , travel-adventure-countries , biography-true-story , reviews. Original review I bought this book as brand new. It looks brand new. It feels brand new. There is masses of underlining inside. The seller should be locked up and flogged on the soles of their feet.
The machinations and manipulations of the women to get what they want which they often do, except freedom. They are caged birds who sing on demand and are there to be petted and admired and fed d Original review I bought this book as brand new.
They are caged birds who sing on demand and are there to be petted and admired and fed delicacies, but not left to fly free. Although sometimes, in a guarded, sheltered, covered flock they might be allowed out for a visit here and there, but then brought back home and locked up again. They deal with this by curtailing their dreams or else lying on the rooftop looking at the stars. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, 'some of us are living in the gutter but we are looking at the stars', well they are on the rooftops.
Ironically, their country cousins, whom they visit irregularly, do not suffer the same strictures - women are out and about on the farm, riding horses and generally being allowed a life. The author hated leaving the country to return to the enclosed world of women in the city.
Nothing, but nothing, no matter what luxury, or what travail, can ever make up for freedom of choice. I wonder what the Queen's views are of on this as she has great work, a 24 carat gold cage and is often allowed out, but not alone, and is guarded once back home? View all 13 comments. Feb 14, Rowena rated it it was amazing Shelves: woman-authors , autobiography , arab-lit.
And magic flourishes when you spell out that dream and make the frontiers vanish. Dreams can change your life, and eventually the world. Liberation starts with images dancing in your little head, and you translate those images in words. And words cost nothing! Someone once told me we are always born into the right place at the right time and Mernissi definitely was.
Born in Morocco in during the transition between tradition and modernity, she was a witness to the war and colonialism by the French. As a sociologist, most importantly a feminist, she is able to present her story in a coming of age story situated in history. But somehow the French needed to get home. Is freedom about physical barriers? Do we have to construct our own freedom and how do we do so? Do we see freedom in the other?
And even more interesting is to learn about feminists from non-Western countries and how other women practice feminism in cultures that might not even have that word in their vocabulary. I was quite struck by how feminism was done within the harem walls, in what people would say is a very unlikely place to practice feminism. The harem was defined as the place where a man kept his family and sheltered them. It was both the place and the members. The harem is a boundary for women and the boundary symbolizes something to overcome somehow in search of freedom.
One of the ways feminism was practiced was through storytelling, often intergenerationally. That is what happened to Scheherezade, the author of the thousand and one tales. The King was about to chop off her head, but she was able to stop him at the last minute, just by using words.
I was eager to find out how she had done it. You are going to create a planet without walls and without frontiers where the gatekeepers have off every day of the year. View all 8 comments. Aug 10, Rebecca rated it really liked it. In fact, Mernissi notes, the everyday domestic harem involves housing the women in an extended family together, in seclusion from the world.
View all 3 comments. Mar 24, Quo rated it really liked it Shelves: reviewed , societal-struggle , personal-identity , feminism. Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood is a coming of age story, set in Morocco during WWII, an account of Yasmina's attempt to decipher the cloistered world within and the greater world beyond the family home in Fez. The book almost seems a cross between an autobiography and an ethnographic study of French Colonial Morocco, just as the stirrings of an independence movement are in the air.
It can't really be compared to The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank but there are certain similar Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood is a coming of age story, set in Morocco during WWII, an account of Yasmina's attempt to decipher the cloistered world within and the greater world beyond the family home in Fez.
It can't really be compared to The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank but there are certain similarities in the manner in which it portrays a young girl at the onset of maturation, held captive at about the same time as the story set in Holland but fortunately with a much brighter outcome.
And while one has various notions of what life in a harem might entail, this tale is a warmly personal story detailing how a young girl deals with her very restrictive setting, while yearning to define her own reality in the midst of abundant social contradictions. The occasional visits to the "hamman" bathhouse and the terrace of their home are the only two areas where most women in Fez can feel truly free but Yasmina's time at her much less restrictive family home in the country is also a refuge for her, a time of feeling unfettered.
Imprisoned within the walls of the harem, the women went about dreaming of horizons without frontiers. Some women who view themselves as "modern" even embroider images of birdwings in flight, an image that is seen as very threatening for more traditional women. In the view of Aunt Habiba: When you happen to be trapped, powerless behind walls, stuck in a dead-end harem, you dream of escape. View all 5 comments.
Feb 09, DoctorM rated it it was amazing Shelves: maghreb , dar-al-islam , sexuality-and-gender. A lovely book on multiple levels. Mernissi's account of a girlhood in an upper-middle class family in Fez in the s is both a luminous and gently affectionate memoir and a penetrating look at the idea of the harem, of a separate women's world within the household.
Mernissi is very clear: the harems of her youth were not the lascivious fantasy-lands of the Arabian Nights or Orientalist painting, but communal spaces where the women of the household lived behind a "sacred boundary", where they l A lovely book on multiple levels.
Mernissi is very clear: the harems of her youth were not the lascivious fantasy-lands of the Arabian Nights or Orientalist painting, but communal spaces where the women of the household lived behind a "sacred boundary", where they lived in a society of their own. Mernissi's mother was a nationalist and a believer in women's freedom, and gave her daughter the strength to become a leading Moroccan academic and advocate of women's rights.
Mernissi herself paints out harem life in its good points mutual support and communal strength and its bad isolation, lack of privacy, enforced seclusion from the world. She is also very clear on the differences between urban life in Fez and the relative independence enjoyed by women on the family's rural lands.
Mernissi's mother and aunts learn about the world only through clandestine listening to the radio and rumours from Egypt and Turkey and the alien Christian world across the Mediterranean, and Mernissi's childhood was spent amidst women who believed in the promise that a new world was possible while worried about what a loss of tradition might entail.
Mernissi emphasises throughout the book the idea of borders, of the artficial separations running through society and especially the idea that, for the harem women, it was an act of trespass, something forbidden, to go outside their family courtyards. Mernissi's climactic point is clear enough: the mark of weakness is to be penned within borders, to be forced to stay in a narrow, enclosed world. A lovely and surprisingly powerful book, and highly recommended.
Feb 03, Kavita rated it did not like it Shelves: historical-fiction , real-women , morocco , africa , kitschy-child-narrator. A pointless book. I can't imagine why the author thought this would be of any use to anyone.
Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood
It describes her youth in a Moroccan harem during the s and brings up topics such as Islamic feminism , Arab nationalism , French colonialism and the clash between the traditional and the modern. It is a fictional work, although this fact is only noted in the French version, not the English. The memoir details a fictive account of Mernissi's childhood and adolescence in a traditional harem in Fez, Morocco during the s and early s. The protagonist narrates her childhood at both the traditional, walled harem in Fez and the equally traditional but geographically open harem belonging to her grandfather, in the countryside. Of particular concern for Mernissi and her cousin Samir is the definition of adult concepts—throughout the memoir, they are constantly discussing the nature of the harem, of hudud sacred frontiers , questions of truth versus convenience, and the growing tension between French colonial forces and Moroccan nationalists.
Dreams Of Trespass