Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood

Overview


”I was born in a harem in 1940 in Fez, Morocco...” So begins Fatima Mernissi in this exotic and rich narrative of a childhood behind the iron gates of a domestic harem. 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, deprived of access to the world outside, recreated it from sheer imagination. Dreams of Trespass is the provocative story of a girl confronting the mysteries of time and place, gender and ...
See more details below
Paperback
$14.85
BN.com price
(Save 12%)$17.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (66) from $1.99   
  • New (16) from $9.35   
  • Used (50) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview


”I was born in a harem in 1940 in Fez, Morocco...” So begins Fatima Mernissi in this exotic and rich narrative of a childhood behind the iron gates of a domestic harem. 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, deprived of access to the world outside, recreated it from sheer imagination. Dreams of Trespass is the provocative story of a girl confronting the mysteries of time and place, gender and sex in the recent Muslim world.

In a book as evocative as anything found in A Thousand and One Nights, Mernissi, who was born in a harem in 1940 in Morocco, writes with great wit and color of the politics of seductions, of the harem as a metaphor, and of the world beyond--every woman's inaccessible obsession. Photos.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This rich, magical and absorbing growing-up tale set in a little-known culture reflects many universals about women. The setting is a ``domestic harem''in the 1940s city of Fez, where an extended family arrangement keeps the women mostly apart from society, as opposed to the more stereotypical ``imperial harem,'' which historically provided sex for sultans and other powerful court officials. Moroccan sociologist Mernissi ( Islam and Democracy ) charts the changing social and political frontiers and limns the personalities and quirks of her world. Here she tells of a grandmother who warns that the world is unfair to women, learns of the confusing WW II via radio news in Arabic and French, watches family members debate what children should hear, wonders why American soldiers' skin doesn't reflect Moroccan-style racial mixing and decides that sensuality must be a part of women's liberation. With much folk wisdom--happiness, the author's mother told her, ``was when there was a balance between what you gave and what you took''--this book not only tells a winning personal story but also helps to feminize a much-stereotyped religion. Photos. BOMC and QPB selections. (June)
Library Journal
Sociologist Mernissi (Islam and Democracy, Addison-Wesley, 1993) has penned an engaging memoir about her own childhood in a Moroccan harem during the 1940s. In simple prose that allows the reader to see events through a child's eyes, she describes a world alien to most Westerners. The Mernissi harem is a large extended family in which female members, including divorced aunts and several wives for some males, are confined to their shared home and restricted in their behavior. These strong, colorful women are the focus of the book. They dominate household activities and frequently form a united front in dealings with male family members. While they accept their role in society, the women applaud changes in other Muslim nations and admire prominent women who promote these changes. The book ends abruptly before the author's teen years, suggesting that there will be a sequel. Recommended for Islamic studies collections, especially for young adults.-Rose Cichy, Osterhout Free Lib., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
School Library Journal
YA-Through a series of vignettes and recollections, Mernissi describes what it was like growing up in one of the last bastions of culturally supported female seclusion in Fez, Morocco, in the 1940s. Within its walls, the harem held young children of both sexes; in-laws of several generations; divorced, widowed, or otherwise dependent female relatives; and even ex-slaves. The presence of the French, the inevitable incursions of the war, and the Westernization of the country itself exposed the family to much that clashed with the customs of their Islamic culture. The author was continually challenged by her mother and grandmother to look beyond the habits of the past, while her father's mother and aunts argued convincingly for the benefits of the old system. This is not a denigration of harem life; rather, it is a description of the conflicts these people faced as they moved out into the world, especially as educational opportunities opened up for them. A useful explanation of the culture as well as a fascinating and highly readable tale of some unique, intriguing women.- Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201489378
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 194,790
  • Lexile: 1230L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author


Fatema Mernissi teaches sociology at University Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco. She is the author of more than eight books, including Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood, Scheherazade Goes West, The Veil and the Male Elite, and Beyond the Veil.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 2, 2011

    Approachable, informative, and compelling.

    One of the most misunderstood aspects of Arab life is the harem. Long viewed by the West simply as a place of sensual abandon, promiscuity, and overall languor, the harem has suffered denigration and misrepresentation based largely on supposition alone. With her semiautobiographical Dreams of Trespass, author Fatima Mernissi subverts this Orientalist viewpoint by providing a much more accurate portrayal of harem life through the eyes of a nine-year old resident. This female narrator, also named Fatima, relates her life and the events of her world in an innocent fashion, yet her voice is wizened with an insight that bespeaks her burgeoning understanding of patriarchy. As she gains acumen into the familial structure of the harem, Fatima is plagued with confusion on both personal and political levels. She is, after all, a young girl, content with the games, laughter and trappings of childhood; yet she is also growing up in a highly sheltered world dominated by men, and this emerging reality constantly penetrates her thoughts. It is through this unique lens that the reader is invited to understand Fatima¿s struggle between boundary and freedom, and the distinct ways in which both are found within the harem. Young Fatima¿s world, restricted largely to her harem compound, is beset with boundaries ¿ both physical and implied ¬¿ and to that end, the book is rife with metaphor, as well as visually rich descriptions of Fatima¿s home. Her scope of life is widening with age and insight, and she begins to understand all the ways in which the home and family life she loves is indicative of a restriction she cannot name. Instead, she resorts to naming those things with which she is familiar. Often she sits on the threshold of the harem¿s courtyard and observes her world, describing the appointments of the harem and ultimately coming to a confused conclusion that there does, indeed, exist a freedom that remains tantalizing but intangible. And in a child¿s manner, Fatima discovers the cracks in her patriarchal home life, teasing into the slippages and winnowing out the ways in which she can maintain a loyalty to her family, yet grow into independence as an Arab woman. I appreciate not only the succinct way in which Mernissi begs social change from especially her female readers, but also the book¿s rich visuals, portrayed with photography and painted textually with Fatima¿s voice. The Moroccan art and architectural patterns that pervade the book also serve as a grounding point for Fatima ¿ a touchstone, a way in which she can remain secure through the things she knows, as she senses the changing world outside the harem. I believe this type of grounding is a way in which all women firmly grasp their place in their respective societies, and I applaud the skillful and affirming way in which Mernissi weaves together this global unity. I found this to be a beautifully compelling and insightful novel that offers a unique perspective into the realities of harem life. Mernissi¿s clever talent is apparent in using the young voice of Fatima to address not only the problematic position of Arab women in a patriarchal culture, but through the wide array of distinctive female voices in the book, Mernissi speaks to all women.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good insight

    If you want to understand what it's like to be a female raised in a traditional Muslim family, this book is a good start. Her family is strict, religious, and comparatively wealthy. There are no atrocities in this book; merely the tedium of not being allowed outside your home without permission from your husband or father. This includes going shopping, to the theater, and going to school. The women are not even allowed to listen to the radio without permission. It's kind of like being a declawed indoor cat in an American household. The trespass that Fatima dreams of is to experience life in all its fullness as men are allowed to do; to go to school and decide for herself what she wants to do with her life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2005

    Beautifully Written

    Dreams of Trespass was such a smooth, easy read with so many insights to the harem society. Many people have the thought that a harem is simply an erotic home but Dreams of Trespass illustrates the realistic harem and the woman behind it. Very well done!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2004

    Writing Gender in Islam

    Mernissi's memoir triumps with lyrical prose, and astute recollections. A wonderful introduction to the real Oriental harem.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2003

    Culture Versus Religion

    This is a well-written book...hard to put down. Although I enjoyed this book, I need to stress the fact that this book is a 'memoir' and should not be used as a reference to the life of a Muslim woman, but as a reference to women in Moroccan culture, and should be read as such.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2000

    An Outstanding Tale

    I had to read Dreams of Trespass for a Women Studies class and I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to read the book. It was so easy to read because it was as though the reader is being told a tale- much like the fascinating tales that Fatima Mernissi loved to hear from her Grandmother. It is a great portrayal of a girl who learns about her culture by discovering the issues of sex, gender roles, and family in the Fez Harem.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2000

    Enjoyable Reading Experience

    This is a delightful autobiography written to provide insight to the Western Culture regarding life in a harem. Innocent and factual. The reader feels comfortable and invited to be immersed in a harem experience and the Muslim culture. Mernissi nicely displays the gender inequalities present. Overall, this book was thoughfully written, and it will be sure to provide an enjoyable reading experience.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2000

    Life in the Harem

    If you are wanting to read a book about the Muslim women in the Harem, this book does a very good job of giving you this illustration. You can feel how trapped these women are. Throughout the book, you see how their lives go from resistance to hopelessness.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2000

    An excellent account of life in a Harem

    I thought this book was an easy and thought provoking read. Told from the eyes of a child growing up in a harem environment, it addressed many of the issues surrounding Harem life. The intended audience of this book was a western audience, to explain that our belief of what a harem is extremely different from the normal family harem. This book stated many of the inequalities women who lived in harems had to deal with, and explained them with a certain flair of childhood innocence. This book is an easy but interesting and informative read. Not only is it interesting but is an entertaining story of a childhood in a harem that will make you think about stereotypes and your beliefs in them.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2000

    An Insight to Harem Life

    I felt this book was written extremely well. The author provided a look into harem life in Morocco through a child's eyes. The innocent perspective was enlightening for me in respect to the daily life of women. I enjoyed the easy reading and imagery the author presented. The book helps to explain and break some of the stereotypes I had of women from this particular culture. I would encourage anyone to pick up this book and read it. Not only is the book full of facts, a reader will enjoy learning them.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2000

    Dreams of Trespass!!

    'Dreams of Trespass- Tales of a Harem Girlhood' is an excellent book to read not only for enjoyment but also for educational purposes. I read this book for a class but found that it was an easy read. The stories that Fatima, the book's main character, tells are interesting to someone like me. I was facinated at the tales, rules and regulations of harem life. The gate keeper and all of the anitcs the women of the harem pull keep the reader entertained. A good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)