In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

255 Reviews ers with numerous illustrations and quotations from the original literature. In brief, Bursting the Limits ofTime will constitute, for a long time, a basic reference book and a rich source of inspiration. Works Cited Voltaire. Des singularités de la nature. Basel, 1768. Cuvier, Georges. Recherche sur les ossements fossiles. Paris: Deterville, 1812. Pasca l R ichet Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris • Imperial Masochism: British Fiction,Fantasy,and Social Class by John Kucich; pp. 270. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. $35.00 cloth. With the publication of this (his fourth) book, John Kucich confirms his reputation as one of the most original voices in the study of Victorian literature . In a recent keynote address, he spoke of “shadow-discourses,” discourses that have gone (or been allowed to go) “dormant” in the cultural imagination.The chief virtue of Imperial Masochism is that it succeeds in coaxing out of intellectual hibernation not one but two shadow-discourses—those of masochism and of social class—that have largely dropped out of recent studies of nineteenth-century British imperial fiction. He analyzes acutely the interweaving of these two discourses in the work of four nineteenth-century Anglophone writers—Robert Louis Stevenson, Olive Schreiner, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Conrad—arguing that in the colonial fiction of all four, masochism “focused one particular conjunction more than any other: the relationship between imperial politics and social class” (1). Many postcolonial scholars have written about imperialism and its discontents—the anxieties, confusions, and ambivalences of the colonial subject—but Kucich’s approach is rare in linking the suffering of this subject to the category of class.The concepts of race, gender, and sexuality have served as lenses through which scholars have examined colonial literature, but class has largely been ignored as an analytical rubric. Lately, historians have tried to remedy the neglect of class in the study of imperial history—the best example being David Cannadine’s Ornamentalism: How the British SawTheir Empire—but, until Kucich, literary critics have been slow to explore this theme in the analysis of imperial literature. His book is thus a fresh and welcome development. Kucich has chosen to focus not on the predominant image of masochism— the Freudian model of sexual submission associated with the Oedipal stage—but on a“shadowy,” alternative masochism: the model, put forward by relational psychologists, of a narcissism linked to the pre-Oedipal stage of psychological victorian review • Volume 34 Number 2 256 development. According to the latter model, disruptions in the parent-child bond open a narcissistic wound in the child that finds its compensation in omnipotent fantasies of control over oneself and others. Kucich examines the metaphors generated by such masochistic fantasies, metaphors that, in latenineteenth -century Britain, often insinuated themselves into imperial narratives that glorified pain, victimization, and sacrifice.According to Kucich, the metaphoricity of masochistic fantasy received a class (usually middle-class) inflection within two discourses in particular—those of evangelicalism and professionalism—that often underwrote lateVictorian imperial narratives. He does not dismiss the heuristic usefulness of the concept of Oedipal masochism; indeed, he finds that in works of colonial fiction, fantasies of eroticized and non-eroticized masochism sometimes work together both to energize characters ’ relationships with one another and to galvanize the ideological configurations those relations embody. However, he asserts that pre-Oedipal masochism’s emphasis upon the relational (suffering as an imagined path to love and sympathy ) offers more diverse and nuanced interpretive possibilities than does the narrow emphasis on sexualized submission in Oedipal masochism that often dominates current psychoanalytical approaches to literature. Kucich argues that in the Scottish novels of the late 1870s and 1880s, Stevenson used bourgeois and anti-bourgeois doubles to disrupt the psychological economy of a pre-Oedipal masochism, thereby exposing the social incoherence of the Scottish middle class. In his South Pacific writings of the 1890s, however, Stevenson showed that through the self-martyrdom of a self-styled, evangelical anti-imperialism, he might overcome the psychosocial schisms that plagued the middle-class milieu of his earlier works. The chapter on Schreiner is the most controversial.There, Kucich contends that in both The Story of an African Farm and her later non-fiction, Schreiner...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 255-257
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.