Most remembered as the source for the famous Valentino movie (of the same name), The Sheik kicks off a new series from the Univ. of Pennsylvania. They intend to reprint genre novels from the distant past, and have begun with this unabashed romance, first published in 1919, and here offered without an explanatory introduction or afterword, which it most definitely needs. How else to justify a book of such silly melodrama, full of enough “orientalist” racism to make Edward Said go ga-ga, and enough misogynist pathology to drive Susan Brownmiller to distraction. The plot is simple enough: a beautiful young Englishwoman—wealthy, adventurous, and unmoved by men—is captured in the Algerian desert by a handsome and muscular sheik who not only tames her and rapes her, but inspires her to love him without reserve. The purple passages abound; the plot mires in the sand dunes. But what is this Middle Eastern soap opera beyond a historically curious piece of schlock? An anticipation of the Stockholm Syndrome, perhaps? Or simply more fodder for those students of anything and everything: the so-called cultural-studies crowd.