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Scottish Literature and Postcolonial LiteratureComparative Texts and Critical Perspectives$
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Michael Gardiner and Graeme Macdonald

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748637744

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637744.001.0001

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Literary Affinities and the Postcolonial in Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad

Literary Affinities and the Postcolonial in Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad

(p.86) Chapter 6 Literary Affinities and the Postcolonial in Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad
Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature

Linda Dryden

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter considers Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad as writers whose imperial fictions voiced attitudes towards adventure and encounters that are at odds with much of the literature of empire that went before and with the romance and adventure genre of the likes of Rider Haggard. It also argues that Stevenson should be regarded as an imperial sceptic whose fictions prepared the way for the bleak vision of empire that Conrad espoused. The Ebb-Tide is a tale of imperial misadventure in which three ne'er-do-wells stumble upon a self-aggrandising imperial despot on a remote Pacific island. Conrad's break with the imperial romance tradition finds clear expression in his earliest work, but with Heart of Darkness his modernist sensibilities become devastatingly apparent as they coincide with his critique of imperialism. Stevenson had commenced the task of unravelling the misconceptions about empire while Conrad was simultaneously working on the same project.

Keywords:   Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, The Ebb-Tide, Heart of Darkness, imperial fictions, imperial romance, imperialism

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