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ENGB31 Lecture Notes - Darkest Africa, Homosociality, Single Spies

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Natalie Rose

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Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines
“to all little and big boys”
o boyhood not literally only for boys
more earth-bound than fantasties
imperialism vs romance
o 1880’s: “New Romance”
adventure fiction
imperial romance
lost-world romance
Gothic revival
Detective fiction
Scientific romance
o Mass-market phenomenon
Claims made for the romance as a genre:
More truthful about the human condition than realism (“the Unpleasant
Real” [Andrew Lang])
o Realism leaves out any kind of humanity
Narrative pleasure
o Realism: “the unrelentingly minute portraiture of modern life and
analysis of modern character, the unrelenting exclusion of exciting
events and engaging narrative” (Land)
o Romance: “the process itself should be absorbing and voluptuous;
we should gloat over a book, be rapt clean out of ourselves”
o Imaginative identification of men with boys: “to all the big and
little boys who read it”
Boyhood as an escape from manhood
Return in one way or another to childhood
Reconciliation with limitation to reality
Romance champions agency: vs. naturalism and determinism
o Adventure chance agency
o “we must take our chance”
o “there is no journey upon this earth that a man may not make if he
sets his heart to it. There is nothing, Umbopa, that he cannot do,
there are no mountains he may not climb, there are no deserts he
cannot cross… if love leads him and he holds his life in his hands
counting it as nothing, ready to keep it or lose it as Providence may
Quest romance is about action; body not mind
o “interest turns, not upon what a man shall choose to do, but on
how he manages to do ti; not on the passionate slips and
hesitations of the conscience, but on the problems of the body and
of the practical intelligence, in clean, open-air adventure, the shock
of arms or the diplomacy of life” (Stevenson)
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