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Imperial Characters: Home and Periphery in Eighteenth-Century Literature

Imperial Characters: Home and Periphery in Eighteenth-Century Literature (Hardback)

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During the long eighteenth century Britain won and lost an empire in North America while consolidating its hegemony on the Indian subcontinent. The idea of imperial Britain became an essential piece of national self-definition, so that to be British was to be a citizen of an imperial power. The British literary imagination inevitably participated in the formulation and interrogation of this new national character, examining, in fiction, empire's effects on the world at home. Imperial Characters traces a range of literary articulations of how British national character is formed, changed, and distorted by the imperial project. Wallace argues that each text she considers, from Aphra Behn's early description of seventeenth-century colonists in Surinam to Robert Louis Stevenson's historical narrative about eighteenth-century Scotsmen roaming the globe, enacts the opportunities, disruptions, and dangers of imperial adventurism. Through close readings contextualized within historical moments, Wallace shows that literary texts rehearse the risks incurred in the course of imperial expansion, not only to British lives but also to cherished national values.

Tara Ghoshal Wallace is Professor of English at The George Washington University.

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: general Publisher: Associated University Presses Publication Date: 01/05/2010 ISBN-13: 9780838757406  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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