Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire

By Martin Green | Go to book overview

IV
Scott

ALMOST a century stretches between Robinson Crusoe and Waverley. During that time the myth of adventure, with its message of empire, was spread by a variety of means. By the revisions and adaptations of Robinson Crusoe itself—very frequent in the second half of the century; by the biographies of adventurer heroes and the descriptions of exotic lands; by the teaching of history and geography. But it was not spread, to any significant degree, by fiction, and scarcely at all by the fiction of serious and ambitious authors.

All through that century, however, the power and pride of England were swelling, and the power and pride of the modern system generally. The rulers of England and the empire wanted fictional images to stimulate and educate their sense of self. When Scott finally devised such images, their grateful response was immediate and tumultuous. But the same cultural inhibitions that had so long restrained men of letters from creating such icons, now disguised and distorted the images they produced. Scott's stories did not express contemporary exploration and conquest as simply as Defoe's did. They seemed to bear no likeness to Defoe's.

And later writers followed Scott. That is why, if we accept the idea that Defoe was the founder of modernist adventure, and so the progenitor of a line of writers that runs down to Kipling and Conrad, we are likely to be puzzled by the occurrence in the work of these later writers of traditionally romantic features of just the kind that

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Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire *
  • Contents vii
  • Prefatory Notes xi
  • I - Modern Empire, Caste, and Adventure 3
  • II - Narrative, Other Forms, and Literature-As-A-System 37
  • III - Defoe 66
  • IV - Scott 97
  • V - Cooper 129
  • VI - Tolstoy 164
  • VII - Popular Literature and Children's Literature 203
  • VIII - Twain 235
  • IX - Kipling 264
  • X - Conrad 297
  • XI - In the Trough of the Wave of Imperialism: Adventure Images after 1918 320
  • Conclusion 338
  • Notes 345
  • Bibliography 405
  • Index 411
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