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Imperial Fantasies for a Post-Colonial World

In an age of Imperial confidence, the social rhetoric of Victorian Britain frequently manifested a perceptible unease when considering cultural problems within the home nation. The imagery of ‘darkest England’, dependant as it was upon a powerful colonialist discourse, authorised and transmitted a register of language whereby an internal Other might be configured as uncivilised, and thus capable of being subject to the explorer and the missionary. Much, of course, has already been written upon the Gothic possibilities of this phenomena which characterised an Imperial age which allegedly declined with the nineteenth century. No similar consideration, however, has yet been made of its continuation into the twentieth century, a progressively post-colonial era in which the Imperial (or Imperialised) Other, in consequence, functions differently. This article considers two Gothic short stories, one in a reprinted Edwardian collection, the other a component of an original collection, both of which were issued in volume form in the late 1940s. The two narratives examine classic ‘cultures-within-cultures’, pockets of resistance within the fabric of the Imperial nation, though in a cultural context radically different from their Victorian predecessors. Algernon Blackwood‘s ‘Ancient Sorceries’ (1908), published in the 1947 reprint of his John Silence, and L.T.C. Rolt‘s ‘Cwm Garon’ published in Sleep No More (1948) share a preoccupation with the casual, localised, travelling which has replaced Imperial adventure, and with the decline of identifiable Christian institutions and landmarks themselves the products of earlier missionary activity in a familiar, though threatening, European landscape. In both short stories a form of devil worship is enacted before the eyes of the traveller, and in a landscape which fascinates and somehow holds him. In ‘Ancient Sorceries’, where the Devil does attend the bacchanal, the protagonist is almost seduced into willing participation but, on evading the sexual lure of the sabbat, vows never to return. Rolt, writing after the recent horrors of the Second World War, discards the presiding Devil in favour of a mortal substitute, but still leaves open the possibility that, in Kilvert‘s words, ‘an angel satyr walks these hills’. Neither welcomed nor seduced by the satanic community, Rolts protagonist finds himself fascinated by the land, and thus drawn into unwilling participation. In colonial terms, these two narratives explore the frequently rehearsed dangers of ‘going native’ that lie at the core of, among other works, Kipling‘s ‘The Mark of the Beast’, Rider Haggard‘s She and Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness. A subject people is identified, but their strength either supernatural or merely cultural, the ability to preserve a distinctive and resistant way of life tests the limits of the perceiving power. These are, in a sense, Imperial fantasies for a post-colonial world, a reflexing of colonised culture back in upon the formerly colonising nation.

Gothic Studies
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‘I dote on Tasso’

poets are always a little mad’. 2 However glib Eliot might have believed her character’s words to be, they are actually rather apt in describing how Tasso’s life was approached, in England and beyond, throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where historical fact was often downplayed or ignored in favour of a more striking legendary

in Tasso’s art and afterlives
Vampirism, Victorianism and collage in Guy Maddin's Dracula – Pages from a Virgin's Diary

conspicuous than his vampiric nature, the Count diligently prepares for his move to England by studying the language, the customs and even the train schedules of his future hunting grounds. Dracula , the novel, shares this paradoxical state of being strongly informed by one age, the late nineteenth century, and being endlessly adaptable. Having spawned a host of other literary

in Monstrous media/spectral subjects
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Geological folklore and Celtic literature, from Cornwall to Scotland

two races of Scotland, helped to prevent the full-blown development of a Scottish national movement of the kind typically found in nineteenth-century Europe. ‘The Scottish nation was reinterpreted as an unstable ethnic hybrid’, argues Kidd, ‘whereas Britain – or at least its heartland of England and the Scottish Lowlands – was imagined as a natural community of Saxons’, thus helping to dispel

in Rocks of nation
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Age writing, and modernist and romance novels. The first chapters reflect how the categories of science and literature were only beginning to take shape in the nineteenth century, building on well-established connections between these fields to show how geology and poetry together engage with rocks as a basis for perceiving Celtic nations and native races as distinct from England. The later chapters

in Rocks of nation

and absentee landlords in nineteenth-century Ireland, or as allegorical representations of Irish political figures such as Charles Parnell. 2 Indeed, such readings became commonplace enough that Joseph Valente would open his own full-length study in 2002, Dracula’s Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood , with the declaration that the ‘decade of the Irish Dracula ended in

in Open Graves, Open Minds
Sarah Orne Jewett, The Tory Lover, and Walter Scott, Waverley

7 Nation making and fiction making: Sarah Orne Jewett, The Tory Lover, and Walter Scott, Waverley Alison Easton ‘Writing something entirely different’ Beside Sarah Orne Jewett’s desk where she would have seen it every time she looked up was a small copy of the well-known Raeburn portrait of Sir Walter Scott. No critic has commented on this, yet Scott was important to her. As she remarks in a 1905 letter to her dearest friend and companion, Annie Fields,‘How one admires that great man more and more’.1 So, what was New England’s most notable, late-nineteenth-century

in Special relationships

ceremonies on their wedding day, one at the Spanish Chapel and the other at Devonshire House 100 100 Visions and ruins in Piccadilly.98 Although he never converted, Granville’s sister, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, did convert to Catholicism in 1846 following her father’s death.99 As Gerald Parsons writes, the nineteenth century saw great changes to the social position of Catholics in England: From a position of official civil disability and overt suspicion and hostility from much of the non-​Catholic population, and from a definitely marginal status within the overall

in Visions and ruins
Open Access (free)
The cartographic consciousness of Irish gothic fiction

, quantitative analysis offers a particularly instructive vantage point, allowing us strikingly to visualise the geographical settings of the literary gothic. Figure 3 demonstrates that the vast majority of the works considered in this study locate their narratives primarily in the British Isles, which, for the terms of this discussion, means mainland England, as well as Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. A much smaller percentage of works feature the Catholic Continental settings – France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal – that we have come to expect from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century

in The gothic novel in Ireland, c. 1760–1829
Margaret Harkness, George Eastmont, Wanderer (1905), and the 1889 Dockworkers’ Strike

historical truth and fictionalised history. What had happened between 1889 and 1905, the fifteen years between the dockworkers’ victory and the appearance of George Eastmont, Wanderer, both in terms of the political history of ­nineteenth-century British socialism and the evolution of Harkness’s own political views? How did the aftermath of the strike colour its depiction? More specifically, why is the strike, as reinvented in the novel, such a deeply traumatic episode, marked by a swell of contradictory judgements and a prevailing mood of uncertainty, compromise

in Margaret Harkness