Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire

By Martin Green | Go to book overview

Conclusion

I HAVE not been arguing that imperialism is foolish, dangerous, and wrong; and I shall not do so now, though that of course is what I believe. I have argued only that imperialism has penetrated the fabric of our culture, and infected our imagination, more deeply than we usually realize. I thought that the field of literature offered particularly telling examples of this infection, because there, at least in serious literature and serious discussion of literature, we usually feel ourselves remote from imperialism and its influence. In fact, I have tried to show it is rather that we are resistant to that influence, and remote only in the willful sense. All of which takes imperialism for granted, and ignores its political character.

But I do want to point to the background of politics, of practical action. We all, like Marx, want to pass from explaining the world to changing it. First I want to point to the likenesses and differences between that serious-literature, high-culture, resistance to Empire, and other kinds; notably Gandhi's and Tolstoy's more powerful, political and religious resistance. The moral realism and moral scruple, the aversion and recoil from imperialism in all its phases, which work at the motor root of serious literature, work at the root of Gandhi's and Tolstoy's teaching too. But in that teaching they are developed gigantically. Literature turns away from that subject matter and that mode of action, to create in effect an alternative world —often alternative in theme and motif, always in psychic substance —though still a world whose colors are the meanings of this one. Gandhi and Tolstoy began to build with bricks made out of the same materials as the Empire-builders themselves use, trying to take up the same psychic and cultural space as the house we actually live in, trying to displace that house.

Their work is something I shall discuss in the next book in this series, but it connects with some things in this one, because it is

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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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