Moore’s Oriental Artifice
From its first appearance in 1817, Thomas Moore's Lalla Rookh was widely seen to be remarkably true to the oriental world that it purported to depict. Moore's oriental learning, displayed in over 400 notes and footnotes to the poem. This chapter argues that Moore's depiction of Mughal India evokes significant associations between a newly emerging Anglo-Irish cultural identity based on a reconstructed view of Irish antiquity and contemporary forms of Indian historical writing that shaded imperceptibly into romance. It discusses Moore's source material for the historical and ideological dimensions of his work in Alexander Dow's influential History of Hindostan, and his reconstruction of oriental romance in the story of the titular character of Lalla Rookh. The chapter demonstrates how this overarching narrative speaks to and contains the fictions of the inset tales, rendering their significance in keeping with "the cause of tolerance" which Moore insisted comprised the ideological burden of his work.