- The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World by Dane Kennedy, and; The Sad Story of Burton, Speke, and the Nile; or, Was John Hanning Speke a Cad? Looking at the Evidence by W. B. Carnochan (review)
- Victorian Review
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 33, Number 2, 2007
- pp. 145-149
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- Additional Information
145 Reviews The abbreviated manner in whichWalker develops various elements of her larger polemic may be one aspect of the study which readers find frustrating. Striving to elaborate“the diverse and contested nature of working-class religion, politics, and culture” (234) in theVictorian period, she positions the Salvation Army as a specific example from which we might draw more general conclusions . She uses the Army’s history in particular to challenge critical commonplaces inVictorian studies about secularization and the relationship between religion and England’s urban working class. She takes particular exception, for example, to assumptions that “‘religious ideology’ was undifferentiated and always quietest,” and that “religion worked in the interests of the middle class, which energetically, and unsuccessfully, attempted to indoctrinate working-class people” (66). Pointing to the complicated position the Army and its followers regularly occupied vis-à-vis “urban working-class culture, organized politics both bourgeois and proletarian, and the wider community of evangelicals,”Walker insists that the“SalvationArmy was as authentic, complicated , and mediated an expression of working-class belief and desire as any other movement of working-class people” (67).The broader implications of this polemic are among the most exciting facets of Walker’s study; they also remain among the least developed of the book’s many avenues of inquiry. Far from marking a failing of her study, however, these gestures signify instead the wealth of promising scholarship onVictorian religion, politics, and ideology toward which Walker’s work has pointed the way. Lau r en Gillingh a m University of Ottawa • The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the VictorianWorld by Dane Kennedy; pp. 354. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005. $32.95 cloth. The Sad Story of Burton,Speke,and the Nile;or,Was John Hanning Speke a Cad? Looking at the Evidence by W. B. Carnochan; pp. 140. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006. $52.45 cloth. Aprotean figure even in the nineteenth century, Sir Richard Burton has become practically a synonym for polymath in ours. Soldier, explorer, linguist, translator, poet, diplomat, swordsman, raconteur, author of more than thirty books, pioneering anthropologist: to an age steeped in the cult of specialization, it seems there was very little Richard Burton couldn’t—and didn’t—do. Mostly because of this very prodigiousness, Burton has been the victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 146 subject of a large number of biographies for a second-tierVictorian celebrity— at time of writing, some twenty and counting. Most are standard what-hedid -and-when-he-did-it opuses, varying in quality from cheap, fictionalized knockoffs (Allen Edwardes’s Death Rides a Camel) to the mostly excellent (Fawn Brodie’s The Devil Drives and Mary Lovell’s A Rage to Live). For such a dramatic character, however, surprisingly few scholarly works have been dedicated to Burton—the occasional academic article or thesis, plus a few full-length treatments presenting him as aVictorian rebel angel or attempting to“explain” him in fashionably psychological terms.That changes now with two recent works: Dane Kennedy’s The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the VictorianWorld and W. B. Carnochan’s unwieldily entitled The Sad Story of Burton,Speke,and the Nile;or,Was John Hanning Speke a Cad? Looking at the Evidence. The result is two of the most soberly considered looks yet at Burton—and by extension, Speke. Kennedy’s volume attempts something new, if not actually radically different: placing Burton not as an outsider of his time (a Romantic persona that Burton was at extreme pains to convey), but rather as a major representation ofVictorianism. Carnochan’s focus is more specific, concentrating on the celebrated quarrel between Burton and Speke over the Nile sources, which developed into one of the most famously fractured relationships of the highVictorian age, while searching for the truth behind charges (among several others) that Speke was a malicious careerist who betrayed Burton. Dane Kennedy’s work is indeed a study, rather than a conventional biography. Kennedy, Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, divides his work into eight thematic chapters, each dedicated to a separate aspect of Burton: the gypsy, the orientalist, the explorer, the racist, and so forth. For the...