Britain in the long nineteenth century developed an increasing interest in science of all kinds. Whilst poets and novelists took inspiration from technical and scientific innovations, those directly engaged in these new disciplines relied on literary techniques to communicate their discoveries to a wider audience. The essays in this collection uncover this symbiotic relationship between literature and science, at the same time bridging the disciplinary gulf between the history of science and literary studies. Specific case studies include the engineering language used by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the role of physiology in the development of the sensation novel and how mass communication made people lonely.
Under Briggflatts is a history of the last thirty years of British poetry with necessary excursions into other areas: criticism, philosophy, translation, and non-British English poetries. It has grown naturally out of Donald Davie's immediate involvement with new writing as a poet, reviewer, teacher, and reader. He has reassessed the writers who have most engaged his attention, revised his reviews, and supplemented earlier material with much that is new. Under Briggflatts provides a narrative that is remarkable in scope and generous in tone. By combining close readings of specific poems and more general considerations of style, form, and context, Davie's account is characteristically elegant, precise, and uncompromising.
Under Briggflatts is organized in three large chapters, one devoted to each decade. In the 1960s, Davie pays particular attention to the work of Austin Clarke, Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman McCaig, Keith Douglas, Edwin Muir, Basil Bunting (the gurus whose prose writings helped catalyze the traumatic events of 1968), Elaine Feinstein, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Philip Larkin, Charles Tomlinson, Thomas Kinsella, and Ted Hughes. The second chapter follows these figures into the new decade and explores the work of (among others) Thom Gunn, C. H. Sisson, R. S. Thomas, John Betjeman, and such themes as women's poetry, translation, poetic theory, and the later impact of T. S. Eliot and of Edward Thomas. Perhaps the most controversial chapter is the third, in which David—without abandoning the poets already introduced—assesses Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison, and Seamus Heaney, and looks too at the recovery of Ivor Gurney's poems, at Ted Hughes as Laureate, the posthumous work of Sylvia Townsend Warner, the burgeoning Hardy industry, and the critical writings of Kenneth Cox.
In 1867 forty Irish-Americans sailed for Ireland to fight against British rule. Claiming that emigrants to America remained British citizens, authorities arrested the men for treason, sparking a crisis and trial that dragged the U.S. and Britain to the brink of war. Lucy Salyer recounts this gripping tale, a prelude to today’s immigration battles.
Spanning nearly two and a half centuries of English literature about India, Under Western Eyes traces the development of an imperial discourse that governed the English view of India well into the twentieth century. Narrating this history from its Reformation beginnings to its Victorian consolidation, Balachandra Rajan tracks this imperial presence through a wide range of literary and ideological sites. In so doing, he explores from a postcolonial vantage point collusions of gender, commerce, and empire—while revealing the tensions, self-deceptions, and conflicts at work within the English imperial design. Rajan begins with the Portuguese poet Camões, whose poem celebrating Vasco da Gama’s passage to India becomes, according to its eighteenth-century English translator, the epic of those who would possess India. He closely examines Milton’s treatment of the Orient and Dryden’s Aureng-Zebe, the first English literary work on an Indian subject. Texts by Shelley, Southey, Mill, and Macaulay, among others, come under careful scrutiny, as does Hegel’s significant impact on English imperial discourse. Comparing the initial English representation of its actions in India (as a matter of commerce, not conquest) and its contemporaneous treatment of Ireland, Rajan exposes contradictions that shed new light on the English construction of a subaltern India.
Undertones of War
Edmund Blunden University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress D640.B5833 2007 | Dewey Decimal 940.41241092
“I took my road with no little pride of fear; one morning I feared very sharply, as I saw what looked like a rising shroud over a wooden cross in the clustering mist. Horror! But on a closer study I realized that the apparition was only a flannel gas helmet. . . . What an age since 1914!”
In Undertones of War, one of the finest autobiographies to come out of World War I, the acclaimed poet Edmund Blunden records his devastating experiences in combat. After enlisting at the age of twenty, he took part in the disastrous battles at the Somme, Ypres, and Passchendaele, describing them as “murder, not only to the troops but to their singing faiths and hopes.”
All the horrors of trench warfare, all the absurdity and feeble attempts to make sense of the fighting, all the strangeness of observing war as a writer—of being simultaneously soldier and poet—pervade Blunden’s memoir. In steely-eyed prose as richly allusive as any poetry, he tells of the endurance and despair found among the men of his battalion, including the harrowing acts of bravery that won him the Military Cross.
Now back in print for American readers, the volume includes a selection of Blunden’s war poems that unflinchingly juxtapose death in the trenches with the beauty of Flanders’s fields. Undertones of War deserves a place on anyone’s bookshelf between Siegfried Sassoon’s poetry and Robert Graves’s Goodbye to All That.
The eighteenth-century comic novelist Tobias Smollett has often been criticized for the extreme physicality of his writing, which is full of scatological images and graphic depictions of bodily injury and disintegration.
Aileen Douglas draws on feminist and other new theoretical perspectives to reassess Smollett's entire body of fiction as well as his classic Travels through France and Italy. Like many writers of his time, Douglas argues, Smollett was interested in the body and in how accurately it reflects internal disposition. But Smollett's special contribution to the eighteenth-century novel is his emphasis on sentience, or the sensations of the physical body. Looking at such works as The Adventures of Roderick Random, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, and The History and Adventures of an Atom, Douglas explores the ways Smollett uses representations of sentience—especially torment and pain—in his critique of the social and political order.
Trained in medicine, Smollett was especially alert to the ways in which the discourses of medicine, philosophy, and law construct (as we would put it now) the body as an object of knowledge, and yet his work always returns to the importance of the physical world of the body and its feelings. Smollett reminds us, as Douglas aptly puts it, that "if you prick a socially constructed body, it still bleeds."
Mary Poovey's The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer has become a standard text in feminist literary discourse. In Uneven Developments Poovey turns to broader historical concerns in an analysis of how notions of gender shape ideology.
Asserting that the organization of sexual difference is a social, not natural, phenomenon, Poovey shows how representations of gender took the form of a binary opposition in mid-Victorian culture. She then reveals the role of this opposition in various discourses and institutions—medical, legal, moral, and literary. The resulting oppositions, partly because they depended on the subordination of one term to another, were always unstable. Poovey contends that this instability helps explain why various institutional versions of binary logic developed unevenly. This unevenness, in turn, helped to account for the emergence in the 1850s of a genuine oppositional voice: the voice of an organized, politicized feminist movement.
Drawing on a wide range of sources—parliamentary debates, novels, medical lectures, feminist analyses of work, middle-class periodicals on demesticity—Poovey examines various controversies that provide glimpses of the ways in which representations of gender were simultaneously constructed, deployed, and contested. These include debates about the use of chloroform in childbirth, the first divorce law, the professional status of writers, the plight of governesses, and the nature of the nursing corps. Uneven Developments is a contribution to the feminist analysis of culture and ideology that challenges the isolation of literary texts from other kinds of writing and the isolation of women's issues from economic and political histories.
This long-awaited book is a considerable revision in the understanding of the history of colonial Kenya and, more widely, colonialism in Africa. There is a substantial amount of new work and this is interlocked with shared areas of concern that the authors have been exploring since 1976.
The authors investigate major themes. These include the conquest origins and subsequent development of the colonial state, the contradictory social forces that articulated African societies to European capitalism, and the creation of new political communities and changing meanings of ethnicity in Africa, in the context of social differentiation and class formation. There is substantial new work on the problems of Mau Mau and of wealth, poverty and civic virtue in Kikuyu political thought.
The authors make a fresh contribution to a deeper historical understanding of the development of contemporary Kenyan society and, in particular, of the British and Kukuyu origins of Mau Mau and the emergency of the 1950s.
They also highlight some of the shortcomings of ideas about development, explore the limitations of narrowly structuralist Marxist theory of the state, and reflect on the role of history in the future of Africa.
Book Two on Violence and Ethnicity gives new insights into popular consciousness, into revolutionary change and into the subtle realities of ethnicity; it will be of particular value to readers of Ngugi.
John F. Kennedy carried on a lifelong love affair with England and the English. From his speaking style to his tastes in art, architecture, theater, music, and clothes, his personality reflected his deep affinity for a certain kind of idealized Englishness. In Union Jack, noted biographer Christopher Sandford tracks Kennedy’s exploits in Great Britain between 1935 and 1963, and looks in-depth at the unique way Britain shaped JFK throughout his adult life and how JFK charmed British society.
This mutual affinity took place against a backdrop of some of the twentieth century’s most profound events: The Great Depression, Britain’s appeasement of Hitler, the Second World War, the reconstruction of Western Europe, the development and rapid proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the ideological schism between East and West. Based on extensive archival work as well as firsthand accounts from former British acquaintances, including old girlfriends, Union Jack charts two paths in the life of JFK. The first is his deliberate, long-term struggle to escape the shadow of his father, Joseph Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. The second is the emergence of a peculiarly American personality whose consistently pro-British, rallying rhetoric was rivaled only by Winston Churchill. By explaining JFK’s special relationship with Great Britain, Union Jack offers a unique and enduring portrait of another side of this historic figure in the centennial year of his birth.
In Unreasonable Histories, Christopher J. Lee unsettles the parameters and content of African studies as currently understood. At the book's core are the experiences of multiracial Africans in British Central Africa—contemporary Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia—from the 1910s to the 1960s. Drawing on a spectrum of evidence—including organizational documents, court records, personal letters, commission reports, popular periodicals, photographs, and oral testimony—Lee traces the emergence of Anglo-African, Euro-African, and Eurafrican subjectivities which constituted a grassroots Afro-Britishness that defied colonial categories of native and non-native. Discriminated against and often impoverished, these subaltern communities crafted a genealogical imagination that reconfigured kinship and racial descent to make political claims and generate affective meaning. But these critical histories equally confront a postcolonial reason that has occluded these experiences, highlighting uneven imperial legacies that still remain. Based on research in five countries, Unreasonable Histories ultimately revisits foundational questions in the field, to argue for the continent's diverse heritage and to redefine the meanings of being African in the past and present—and for the future.
Migrants made up a growing class of workers in late sixteenth- and seventeenth- century England. In fact, by 1650, half of England’s rural population consisted of homeless and itinerant laborers. Unsettled is an ambitious attempt to reconstruct the everyday lives of these dispossessed people. Patricia Fumerton offers an expansive portrait of unsettledness in early modern England that includes the homeless and housed alike.
Fumerton begins by building on recent studies of vagrancy, poverty, and servants, placing all in the light of a new domestic economy of mobility. She then looks at representations of the vagrant in a variety of pamphlets and literature of the period. Since seamen were a particularly large and prominent class of mobile wage-laborers in the seventeenth century, Fumerton turns to seamen generally and to an individual poor seaman as a case study of the unsettled subject: Edward Barlow (b. 1642) provides a rare opportunity to see how the laboring poor fashioned themselves, for he authored a journal of over 225,000 words and 147 pages of drawings. Barlow’s journal, studied extensively here for the first time, vividly charts what he himself termed his “unsettled mind” and the perpetual anxieties of England’s working and wayfaring poor. Ultimately, Fumerton explores representations of seamen as unsettled in the broadside ballads of Barlow’s time.
The sexual exploitation of children by adults has a long, fraught history. Yet how cultures have reacted to it is shaped by a range of forces, beliefs, and norms, like any other social phenomenon. Changes in how Anglo-American culture has understood intergenerational sex can be seen with startling clarity in the life of British writer Norman Douglas (1868–1952), who was both a beloved and popular author, a friend of luminaries like Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, and D.H. Lawrence—as well as an unrepentant and uncloseted pederast. Rachel Hope Cleves’s careful study opens a window onto the social history of intergenerational sex in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, revealing how charisma, celebrity, and contemporary standards protected Douglas from punishment—until they didn’t.
Unspeakable approaches Douglas as neither monster nor literary hero, but as a man who participated in an exploitative sexual subculture that was tolerated in ways we may find hard to understand. Using letters, diaries, memoirs, police records, novels, and photographs—including sources by the children Douglas encountered—Cleves identifies the cultural practices that structured pedophilic behaviors in England, Italy, and other places Douglas favored. The resulting book delineates just how approaches to adult-child sex have changed over time, even as it offers insight into how society can confront today’s scandals, celebrity and otherwise.
Nineteenth-century England witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of publications and institutions devoted to the creation and the dissemination of knowledge: encyclopedias, scientific periodicals, instruction manuals, scientific societies, children’s literature, mechanics’ institutes, museums of natural history, and lending libraries. In Useful Knowledge Alan Rauch presents a social, cultural, and literary history of this new knowledge industry and traces its relationships within nineteenth-century literature, ending with its eventual confrontation with Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Rauch discusses both the influence and the ideology of knowledge in terms of how it affected nineteenth-century anxieties about moral responsibility and religious beliefs. Drawing on a wide array of literary, scientific, and popular works of the period, the book focusses on the growing importance of scientific knowledge and its impact on Victorian culture. From discussions of Jane Webb Loudon’s The Mummy! and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor, Charles Kingsley’s Alton Locke, and George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, Rauch paints a fascinating picture of nineteenth-century culture and addresses issues related to the proliferation of knowledge and the moral issues of this time period. Useful Knowledge touches on social and cultural anxieties that offer both historical and contemporary insights on our ongoing preoccupation with knowledge. Useful Knowledge will appeal to readers interested in nineteenth century history, literature, culture, the mediation of knowledge, and the history of science.