Panesar, Gurdip Kaur
Worlds elsewhere: studies in some late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century romance.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Romance as a literary genre, although dominant in medieval Europe, has often been marginalized in later ages. Even when it saw a marked revival in Britain in the later nineteenth century, it still found itself embattled; its practitioners and advocates had to justify their position in an era which tended to regard tales of wonder and adventure as being little more than childish fancies and contrary to prevailing notions about the continuing advancement of the human race and the perceived duty of writers to engage with social issues of the day. However, the phenomenon could not be so easily ignored, or dismissed as belonging merely to the province of lower and undeveloped tastes. This thesis considers the work of several romance writers of the period, of varying background, outlook, and literary ability. These are, principally, Buchan, Chesterton, Conan Doyle, Conrad, Haggard, Kipling, Machen, Stevenson, and Wells. Throughout, the emphasis is upon works which in the past may have been comparatively neglected: for instance, in many cases, such as that of Buchan or Wells, the short stories take precedence over the novels.
Adventuring into new realms of possibility often took the form in this period of an actual journey out to far places. Chapter One discusses the colonial romances of Buchan and Haggard in Africa, Kipling in India and Conrad and Stevenson in the Far East and the South Seas - distinct geographical locations in which differing romance elements come to the fore. It is argued that overall in this period there seem to be fewer romantic possibilities abroad than in former ages, but that they are still seen to linger (perhaps unexpectedly) in Conrad.
Chapter Two undertakes a special study of Haggard in order to show how he modifies the imperial adventure tale of his day by bringing in elements of other, older, romance traditions - this being an important, and under-recognized, aspect of his fiction.
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