Re-Imagining the 'Dark Continent' in Fin de Siècle Literature

Re-Imagining the 'Dark Continent' in Fin de Siècle Literature

Re-Imagining the 'Dark Continent' in Fin de Siècle Literature

Re-Imagining the 'Dark Continent' in Fin de Siècle Literature

Synopsis

Robbie McLaughlan maps the fin de siecle mission to open up the Dark Continent. Although nineteenth-century map-makers imposed topographic definition upon a perceived geographical void, writers of adventure fiction, and other colonial writers, continued to nourish the idea of a cartographic absence in their work. McLaughlan explores the effects of this epistemological blankness in fin de si?cle literature, and its impact upon early Modernist culture, through the emerging discipline of psychoanalysis and the debt that Freud owed to African exploration. As Robbie McLaughlan demonstrates, it was the late Victorian best-seller which merged an arcane Central African imagery with an interest in psychic phenomena."

Excerpt

‘Victorian’ is a term at once indicative of a strongly determined concept and an often notoriously vague notion, emptied of all meaningful content by the many journalistic misconceptions that persist about the inhabitants and cultures of the British Isles and Victoria’s Empire in the nineteenth century. As such, it has become a by-word for the assumption of various, often contradictory, habits of thought, belief, behaviour and perceptions. Victorian studies and studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture have, from their institutional inception, questioned narrowness of presumption, pushed at the limits of the nominal definition, and sought to question the very grounds on which the unreflective perception of the so-called Victorian has been built; and so they continue to do. Victorian and nineteenth-century studies of literature and culture maintain a breadth and diversity of interest, of focus and inquiry, in an interrogative and intellectually open-minded and challenging manner, which are equal to the exploration and inquisitiveness of its subjects. Many of the questions asked by scholars and researchers of the innumerable productions of nineteenth-century society actively put into suspension the clichés and stereotypes of ‘Victorianism’, whether the approach has been sustained by historical, scientific, philosophical, empirical, ideological or theoretical concerns; indeed, it would be incorrect to assume that each of these approaches to the idea of the Victorian has been, or has remained, in the main exclusive, sealed off from the interests and engagements of other approaches. A vital interdisciplinarity has been pursued and embraced, for the most part, even as there has been contest and debate amongst Victorianists, pursued with as much fervour as the affirmative exploration between different disciplines and differing epistemologies put to work in the service of reading the nineteenth century.

Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture aims to take up both the debates and the inventive approaches and departures from . . .

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