The term "Orientalism", as it is understood in the English-speaking world, has undergone a paradoxical change of meaning. Having previously denoted the science of all those who sought to understand the Orient through its languages and ancient texts (linguists, translators, geographers or historians), it has gradually come to denote the general perception of the Orient by the West, a perception which is fatally tainted by fantasies projected onto an unknown Other, as has been clearly illustrated by post-colonial studies.
The aim of the volume is to take a fresh look at this all too clear split between knowledge and dreams, and to attempt to identify to what extent and in which areas the scientific approach has been able to exist in harmony or, conversely, in disharmony with the "Oriental dream". It is shown that dreams of faraway places and familiarity with the other are not necessarily contradictory, and can come together or intersect in complex mirror effects.
The work has attached particular importance to a pluridisciplinary approach: textual analyses (travel narratives, translations or rewritings of oriental tales, diplomatic reports or writings from Orientalist tradition) exist alongside studies based on the history of art or the history of ideas, to provide a broad review of these ambiguous exchanges between the Orient and the West.