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Victorian Literature and Postcolonial Studies

Patrick Brantlinger

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This book examines the relationship between the British Empire and Victorian literature. It explains how Victorian literature both gave expression to pro-imperialist themes, and engaged with forms of opposition to the empire like abolitionism and early Indian nationalism. Victorian literature is analyzed in relation to key debates in postcolonial studies about Orientalism, race, gender, Marxism, subalterneity, imperial historiography, mimicry and representation. And there are in-depth examinations of works by major Victorian authors in an imperial context, notably those of Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Disraeli, Tennyson, Yeats, Kipling and Conrad.

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Series Editors' Preface
Exploring the Terrain: Introduction: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Imperialism
Slavery and Empire in Romantic and Early Victorian Literature
The Empire Cleans Up Its Act
Emigration Narratives
Thrilling Adventures
Race and Character
Imperial Gothic
Debates: Imperial Historiography, Marxism, and Postcolonialism
Gender, Sexuality, and Race
'Mimicry' versus 'Going Native'
Can Subalterns Speak?
Case Studies: Homecomings
Tennyson, Yeats, and Celticism
Oriental Desires and Imperial Boys: Romancing India
Imperial Boys: Romancing Africa
Primary Sources
Works Cited
Secondary Sources
Further Reading

About the Author

Patrick Brantlinger is James Rudy Professor of English and Victorian Studies (Emeritus) at Indiana University. He is the author or editor of 13 books including Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830-1900 (Cornell University Press, 1988), Dark Vanishings: Nineteenth-Century Discourse about the Extinction of Primitive Races (Cornell University Press, 2003), and The Blackwell Companion to the Victorian Novel (Blackwell Publishers, 2002), edited with William Thesing.


With clarity and economy, a broad vista of political, socio-cultural and geographical factors are viewed, combining perspectives on the imperial source material with the critiques offered by postcolonial reassessments – aesthetic and ethical. Brantlinger's longstanding scholarly expertise in this area is adroitly condensed into a mere 180 pages ... this concise yet considerable scope is the work's strength and should see it become a necessary guide to an almost unmanageably complex area.

- Routledge ABES
"Begins with a wide-ranging, elegantly syynthesised, and historically nuanced overview of the multifarious impact of Empire on nineteenth-century, literature, historiography and cultural commentary. ... Sure to invite scholars to engage .. and further develop these vital and unfinished areas of research."
- Anita Rupprecht, University of Brighton, Wasafiri

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