All of the fiction we’ve read so far has linked adventure to imperialism: “The Purple Terror,” The Last of the Mohicans, and King Solomon’s Mines. Immediately, this connection brings to mind Martin Green’s statement that “adventure is the energizing myth of empire.” Thus far we haven’t explored political theories of colonialism, though it might be helpful to look at the following post to get a sense of what that term– and its related concepts– actually mean:
For now, we can use the term to designate when one nation exercises rule over another, whether militarily or economically. LM is set in a world where two imperial powers are vying for control of indigenous lands. KSM, on the other hand, while it clearly addresses the issue of empire in Africa, complicates this scenario. Consider, for example, Ignosi’s anti-colonial pledge to keep whites from Kukuanaland, for example.
Recall that the key focus of HUM303 is to relate text (styles) to context (periods). In this respect Toohey’s article can help us by emphasizing that any attempt at periodization is partial and situated. Broadly speaking, our overarching period is that of Modernity. Yet within this larger category we have focused on the 19th century– and, insofar as LM is a historical novel, the mid-18th. This last observation– LM is not only an example of adventure fiction but the historical novel– suggests that the genre of adventure intersects with other forms. Notably, the adventure novel has a deep-rooted relationship to Romance. In fact, as some of the critics we’ve read have noted, the terms “novel” and “romance” have often been used interchangeably. Going back to the secondary readings with which we began this course will surely help here.
Adventure fiction– particularly from the period of the turn of the (20th) century– reproduces the gender politics of its era. Bruzelius, of course, draws our attention to the masculinist ideologies of adventure, particularly according to the narrow range of roles available to female characters. Alice and Cora’s fates are bound up in their relationship to the action of the plot. One will live, the other die– each according to the degree to which they threaten or sustain prevailing racial and gender orders. Consider also the Haggard’s inscription to KSM.
The major themes of LM are worth exploring, such as the notion of “gifts,” racial essence, parallels between subplots and characters, and the geographical imaginary established in Cooper’s text. How does KSM compare with LM along these lines? Above all, what are these books’ ideological projects?
Review the material already posted this semester. Consult your class notes. Consider the clips we’ve screened in class. On Tuesday we’ll finish up KSM and work through any confusions or doubts about the material we’ve covered thus far.