Robert Byron: An Iconoclast on the Road to Appreciation of Islamic Architecture




anima, architecture, countertravel writing, Gohar Shad, orientalism


England in 1933 was a claustrophobic, desolate, and enervating country generating a generation of discontents like Robert Byron. Unsatisfied with the received ideas of Western aestheticism, he aligned himself with Islamic aestheticism and departed for Oxiana to study Islamic architecture resulting in his The Road to Oxiana, a masterpiece in travel writing. This study contends that Byron is an iconoclast who undermines the rhetoric of colonialism and imperialism in his travel book. To elaborate its analysis, the study employs Holland’s and Huggan’s idea of countertravel writing along with psychoanalysis. It argues that Byron’s countertravel writing in his narrative manifests in two ways. Firstly, when he critiques the reductive picture of Islamic architecture by exalting and appreciating its beauty, especially its Kufic inscriptions. Secondly, when he extols Gohar Shad, a renowned patroness of architecture by acquitting her of the orientalist charge and acknowledging her contributions to Islamic architecture. In doing so, he reveals that she is his ‘anima’ and archetypal mother.

Author Biographies

Ahmad  Gholi, Gonbad Kavous University, Iran.

Gonbad Kavous University, Iran.


Issa Alsulami, Yanbu College of Applied Technology, Saudi Arabia

Yanbu College of Applied Technology, Saudi Arabia




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Date of Publication


How to Cite

 Gholi, A., & Alsulami, I. (2024). Robert Byron: An Iconoclast on the Road to Appreciation of Islamic Architecture. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies, 24(2), 185–204.



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