1887

n Journal of Literary Studies - Imagining and living the exotic : a context for early Rhodesian novels

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Abstract

The paper discusses some early Rhodesian novels within the context of nineteenthcentury debates about the exotic and recent theories about exoticism. The exotic has various temporal and spatial locations that are always sites of desire constructed from what is perceived to be absent in the present. Technological developments and radical social changes created different and competing absences in Victorian England and the paper compares responses to these by Tennyson and Ruskin. Pater, by contrast, rejects social contingency and celebrates instead the power of the individual imagination to create alternative and pleasurable realities. The competing demands of the lived and the imagined exotic can be seen in early Rhodesian writing. In Haggard's novels, written before Rhodes's occupation of Mashonaland, the interior of Africa is a landscape of romance. After Haggard had met Rhodes the interior is written as a potential colony and the colony denies the exotic its discrete existence. Early settler writers often claim that Rhodesia has given their characters a liberating individuality but this claim is never sustained within the novels as the expectations of the settler collective are given precedence over the individual. Invariably the novels turn away from the esoteric in favour of realist negotiations of public and private meanings.

Hierdie artikel handel oor enkele vroeë Rhodesiese romans binne die konteks van negentiende-eeuse debatte oor die eksotiese, sowel as van hedendaagse teorieë oor eksotisme. Die eksotiese het verskeie tyd- en ruimteplasings wat altyd dien as setels van begeerte, gekonstrueer uit die wat waargeneem word as afwesig in die hede. Tegnologiese ontwikkeling en ingrypende maatskaplike veranderings het verskillende mededingende afwesighede in Victoriaanse Engeland laat onstaan, en die artikel tref vergelykings tussen Tennyson en Ruskin se onderskeie response tot hierdie afwesighede. Pater, daarteenoor, verwerp die eise van die samelewing en vier eerder die mag van die individuele verbeelding om alternatiewe en aangename werklikhede te skep. Die mededingende aansprake van die self-beleefde eksotiese aan die een kant en die verbeelde of denkbeeldige eksotiese aan die ander, kan in die vroeë Rhodesiese letterkunde waargeneem word. In die romans wat Haggard voor Rhodes se besetting van Mashonaland geskryf het, is die Afrika-landskap 'n landskap van romantiek. Nadat Haggard Rhodes ontmoet het, beskryf hy die binneland eerder as'n potensiële kolonie, en die kolonie ontken die afsonderlike bestaan van die eksotiese. Vroeë setlaarskrywers het dikwels beweer dat Rhodesië hulle karakters 'n bevrydende individualiteit geskenk het, maar hierdie aanspraak word nooit in die romans self bevestig nie, aangesien die setlaargemeenskap altyd voorrang bo die enkeling geniet. Sonder uitsondering draai die romans die rug op die esoteriese ten gunste van 'n realistiese verhandeling van openbare en private betekenis.

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/content/litstud/19/2/EJC62353
2003-06-01
2016-12-09
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