- Imperialism and the Natural World edited by John M. MacKenzie, and: Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature: Nationalism, Exoticism, Imperialism edited by Jonathan Arac (review)
- Victorian Review
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 17, Number 2, Winter 1991
- pp. 86-90
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- Additional Information
86Victorian Review Devoting Part I to English perceptions of such social phenomenon as Merchant Planter, Western Man, American Woman, and the Slave, and Part ? to American perceptions of the English Gentleman, the Aristocracy, the Poor, and so on, Mulvey provides much rich analysis. He is especially good, for instance, on English writing about slavery, making even fuller use of Fanny Kemble's writings than does Foster, limited as she is by her concern with the woman traveller's quest for emotional release: for Mulvey, Kemble becomes a figure filled with "complex (and sometimes contradictory) patterns of reactions and sympathies" (92). Mulvey also nicely gathers together Victorian fears of social disruption, yoking MatthewArnold's wistful appeal for sweetness and light with Henry James's evocation of an "Anglo-Saxon light" that might provide an aristocratic ordering of the unfortunate (for him) political conditions of America (146). If Childs provides a kind of stately-homes and artifacts approach and Foster a sensible and sensitive map for the terrain, then Mulvey is an informed, ironic guide. Of the three tours of travel-writing under review here, Murve/s is most obviously the one whose critical speculations make one wish for a further theoretical spin, a detour, so to speak, into the discursive byways of European self/alien "other." Deirdre David Temple University John M. MacKenzie, ed. Imperialism and the Natural World. Manchester: U of Manchester P, 1990. viii + 216. Jonathan Arac and Harriet Ritvo, eds. Macropolitics ofNineteenth-Century Literature: Nationalism, Exoticism, Imperialism. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1991. vi + 309. $39.50 US (cloth) Despite a shared focus on nineteenth-century, mainly British imperialism, these two volumes seem superficially very different. Macropolitics contains twelve essays (plus introduction) by literary scholar-critics, all ofwhom are responding to the new historicism and recent debates about cultural history, cultural studies, and forms ofideological critique. Imperialism and the Natural World, in the "Studies of Imperialism" series edited by John MacKenzie, consists of eight essays (plus introduction) by historians of science and of empire, all of whom pursue themes of ecology in relation Reviews87 to the imperialist exploitation of nature. The contributors to Macropolitics reinterpret a variety of mainly literary texts in relation to empire; the contributors to Imperialism and the Natural World seek to study the ways the natural environment and nonwestern peoples economically dependent on that environment, were affected by imperialist encroachments. One set of authors rereads various western texts; the other set attempts to read "the book of nature," after it has been partly erased, translated, destroyed by imperialism—and to do so at least some of their evidence has to come from nonwestern sources (but mostly their sources are also western texts, mainly official or governmental). Half of the contributions to Macropolitics reinterpret canonical works of literature in relation to the three "isms" of the subtitle (nationalism, exoticism, imperialism); these include Shelley's Hellas (Mark Kipperman), Dombey and Son (Jeff Nunokawa), Jane Eyre (Susan Meyer), Moby Dick (Wai-chi Dimock), Salammbô and L'Education sentimentale (lisa Lowe) and Heart of Darkness (Chris Bongie). Marlon Ross adds an excellent analysis of "romantic nationalism" in Burke, Wordsworth, Hazlitt and Scott, while Nancy Vogeley contributes an interesting but less successful essay on The Discourse of Colonial Loyalty: Mexico 1808" (52). While Vogeley demonstrates the ambiguities in "Mexico's discourse of loyalty in the last years ofcolonial rule," her relatively short essay depends too much on lengthy quotations and translations. James Knapp's excellent study, "Irish Primitivism and Imperial Discourse: Lady Gregory's Peasantry," demonstrates how Lady Gregory's writings, and her project of an Irish national theatre, express the ambiguities of being both colonizer and colonized. And Loren Kruger contributes an essay related to Knapp's, because it deals with "instituting national (popular) theater in England and France" (243), though it has less to say than most of the others about imperialism. The two least literary—or most historical—contributions to Macropolitics I also think excellent, even though they are quite different from each other. Bruce Greenfield's essay on the History ofthe Lewis and Clark Expedition (1814) demonstrates clearly and persuasively how the "westering ideology" of the intrepid explorers employs several rhetorical registers to express "the...