Death
Lamenting Livingstone
in Livingstone’s ‘Lives’
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The third chapter examines Livingstone’s Victorian commemoration by focusing on the ways he was constructed in 1874, the year his corpse was returned to British soil. When Livingstone passed away in Chitambo’s village after a debilitating illness, his attendants buried his innards and preserved his body before transporting it to the East African coast. From there, his remains were shipped to Britain where he was granted a national funeral in Westminster Abbey. The circumstances of Livingstone’s death took on sensational proportions in the contemporary press. He was venerated in a profusion of obituaries, eulogies, and elegiac poetry. Focusing solely on the year of Livingstone’s interment, and literary genres that deal with death, present an opportunity to explore a wealth of previously unexamined writing that helped lay the foundation of his legacy. This memorialisation casts insight into the period’s cult of the hero and its culture of death and mourning. Moreover, by examining the differing ways that Livingstone was produced in diverse social spaces, his name is revealed to be the subject of dispute. While Livingstone was a hero of Victorian culture, he is better thought of as a hero with multiple meanings for a plurality of Victorian cultures.

Livingstone’s ‘Lives’

A metabiography of a Victorian icon

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