Popular fictions
in The language of empire
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Popular fictions became handbooks for the imperial programme, and the ethos of adventure argued the case for the 'Dominant Race'. This chapter looks at the 'grammar' of adventure in its most obvious, juvenile form. It focuses on two of the most successful adventure writers of the high imperial age, Cutcliffe Hyne and Edgar Wallace. The bestselling novelists, Cutcliffe Hyne and Edgar Wallace, exploited the imperial theme, and, finding the continent where their heroes could best exert themselves, put them into equatorial Africa, on the ultimate boundary between civilisation and savagery. Both Hyne's Captain Kettle and Wallace's Commissioner Sanders were hugely popular; both heroes were spun out from a first creation into one pot-boiler after another. Heart of Darkness, the fiction Joseph Conrad based on his experience of the Congo exploitation and brutality, has been read as the ultimate liberal criticism of imperialism as a nightmare vision.

The language of empire

Myths and Metaphors of Popular Imperialism, 1880–1918


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