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Robert Irwin


Robert Irwin was born in1946. He read modern history at Oxford University and then did graduate research at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He started a thesis on the Mamluk reconquest of the Crusader states but never finished it. He converted to Islam and spent some time in a dervish monastery in Algeria. He then became a lecturer in medieval history at the University of St. Andrews. He then became a full-time writer, while teaching part-time. He is currently a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the Middle East editor of The Times Literary Supplement. he has written both fiction and non-fiction, including works on the Arabian Nights and Middle East history. He has been highly critical of Edward Said‘s Orientalism,

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Robert Irwin
Robert Irwin
Robert Irwin
Robert Irwin’s top 10 quest narratives
Fall of orientalism Arab and Islamic scholarship is dying in the west. Edward Said must share the blame (article by Irwin)
Articles he has written for the London Review of Books


1983 The Arabian Nightmare (novel)
1986 The Limits of Vision (novel)
1986 The Middle East in the Middle Ages: the Early Mamluk Sultanate 1250–1382
1988 The Mysteries of Algiers (novel)
1994 The Arabian Nights: A Companion
1995 Exquisite Corpse (novel)
1997 Islamic Art
1997 Prayer-Cushions of the Flesh (novel)
1999 Satan Wants Me (novel)
2005 The Alhambra
2006 For Lust of Knowing: the Orientalists and their Enemies (UK); Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents (US)
2010 Camel (about camels)
2010 Mamluks and Crusaders
2010 Visions of the Jinn; Illustrators of the Arabian Nights
2011 Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
2016 Wonders Will Never Cease (novel)
2018 Ibn Khaldun: An intellectual Biography
2019 My Life is like a Fairy Tale (novel)
2021 The Runes Have Been Cast (novel)
2023 Tom’s Version (novel)