n English in Africa - Buchan and the Priest King : Nelson's new novels, "The Mountain," and religious revolution in

Volume 40, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



John Buchan, author of , and other bestselling novels, was famously dismissive of his own literary efforts. That he considered his fiction to be merely recreation from his more serious pursuits - as historian, publisher and politician - was encapsulated in the famous epithet that he gave to his popular works: they were what he called his "shockers." Certainly, Buchan has often been perceived as a resolutely "middlebrow" writer, and no doubt his own self-deprecating remarks helped both to form and perpetuate this reputation. "Newspaper reviewers approved of him," writes Kate Macdonald, "but literary critics did not rate him highly" ( 2). Yet the "ambiguous category" of middlebrow writer is, Nathan Waddell argues, by no means unproblematic when it comes to John Buchan. To describe him as such masks the fact that he was "no moderate intellectual" and, more significantly, underplays the serious sociopolitical commentary that his writings undertook (Waddell 3).

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