"Your Wish is My Command" and Other Fictions: Reluctant Possessions in Richard Burton's "Aladdin"
This paper is concerned with the status of the object in late Victorian England. It involves a close analysis of Sir Richard F. Burton’s translation of “Alaeddin; or, the Wonderful Lamp” from his Thousand Nights and One Night that considers the use of Aladdin’s lamp in its material and sexual circulations. The Lamp, as an object in and of itself, resists valuation and by its owners. As a metonymic cultural symbol, it refuses to be commodified, retaining its original valences even as it is absorbed into Victorian culture. Both of these resistances to human desires causes immense anxiety, which can only be resolved through displacement onto the sexual transaction of desire, which takes the woman as its object. Burton’s own changes to the text, as well as his footnotes, reinforces the fact that these anxieties cannot be displaced onto the oriental story, but must be encountered in England itself.