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Re-Imagining the 'Dark Continent' in fin de siècle Literature

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robbie McLaughlan


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My book opens up the ‘dark continent’ and its literary, cultural, ideological, historical and theoretical manifestations. Throughout the nineteenth century, map-making was presented as an index and yardstick of British cultural superiority over the rest of the globe. Mid nineteenth-century cartographic representations of the world revealed a flaw or gap in Victorian claims to encyclopaedic authority. Although the ‘scramble for Africa’ had imposed topographic definition upon this geographical void, the proponents of Adventure fiction, and other colonial writers, continued to nourish this perception of a cartographic absence in the fiction produced. My book maps the effects of this epistemological blankness in fin de siècle literature, and its impact upon early Modernist culture, through the nascent discipline of psychoanalysis and the debt that Freud owed to African exploration. Before colonial mapmakers and speculators gave cartographic definition to Central Africa it was evangelical missionaries who pioneered discovery into the continental interior. Tales of intrepid exploration and of dramatic cultural encounters between indigenous populations, often serialised in missionary magazines, had a profound influence on every facet of late Victorian/early Modernist culture, manifesting itself most clearly in the late Victorian ‘best-seller’ which melded together this arcane Central African imagery with an interest in psychic phenomena. Re-Imagining diverges from established colonial histories by charting this exploration through that archive of unique and neglected material.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McLaughlan R

Series Editor(s): Julian Wolfreys

Publication type: Authored Book

Publication status: Published

Edition: 1st

Series Title: Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture

Year: 2012

Number of Pages: 237

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press

Place Published: Edinburgh

Notes: Full page review by Joanna Lewis (LSE) in the Times Higher Education Supplement Literary, January 13th 2013.

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780748647156


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