By Siobhan Carroll
Planetary areas akin to the poles, the oceans, the ambience, and subterranean areas captured the British imperial mind's eye. Intangible, inhospitable, or inaccessible, those clean spaces—what Siobhan Carroll calls "atopias"—existed past the limits of identified and inhabited locations. The eighteenth century conceived of those geographic outliers because the normal limits of imperial enlargement, yet clinical and naval advances within the 19th century created new probabilities to understand and regulate them. This improvement preoccupied British authors, who have been conversant in seeing atopic areas as otherworldly marvels in fantastical stories. areas that an empire couldn't colonize have been areas that literature could declare, as literary representations of atopias got here to mirror their authors' attitudes towards the expansion of the British Empire in addition to the half they observed literature taking part in in that expansion.
Siobhan Carroll interrogates the position those clean areas performed within the development of British id in the course of an period of unsettling worldwide circulations. analyzing the poetry of Samuel T. Coleridge and George Gordon Byron and the prose of Sophia Lee, Mary Shelley, and Charles Dickens, in addition to newspaper debts and voyage narratives, she lines the methods Romantic and Victorian writers reconceptualized atopias as threatening or, every now and then, weak. those textual explorations of the earth's maximum reaches and mystery depths make clear chronic elements of the British international and environmental mind's eye that linger within the twenty-first century.
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Additional resources for An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonizable Space in the British Imagination, 1750-1850
48 For those who, like Wilkins, are born without the “property” of flight, labor is both necessary for and a cause of mobility. The aristocratic Youwarkee, born free from Wilkins’s concerns, can only view with bewilderment her husband’s laborious progress, observing in all innocence what Wilkins has already learned through bitter experience: that labor for the sake of mobility inevitably leads to “slavery,” one’s possession by the market forces that enable circulation. In England, once Wilkins began pursuing social mobility, physical mobility and dispossession followed.
105 He appealed to readers’ curiosity about the land of marvels they knew only from literature, argued against opposition to the expeditions, and, perhaps most influentially, portrayed polar space as the blank space against which Britain’s national character could be most clearly defined. Although Barrow attempted, in early arguments, to portray polar exploration as financially beneficial to Britain, he increasingly emphasized the scientific importance of polar exploration, stressing the national prestige that “the pursuit of science for the sake of science”106 would confer.
22 C ha pt er 1 Dickens saw opportunity rather than threat in the alignment of state interests and fiction creation, and, in The Frozen Deep, he stepped forward to implicitly position literature not only as a supporter but also as an essential participant in national polar projects. The poles, in short, were contested geo-imaginary ground during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In defending these spaces against the intrusions of explorers, the British authors surveyed in this chapter also negotiated the relationship between the literary imagination and the scientific, mercantile, and colonial strands of British imperialism.