Introduction : the nineteenth-century pacific rim victorian transoceanic studies beyond the postcolonial matrix
Wagner, Tamara S.
Date of Issue2015
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The Victorians’ driving interest in exploration and expansion is perhaps one of the best-known scholarly truisms about the age and its literature. While the British Empire was rapidly expanding and commercial competition began to stretch across the globe with a newly perceived urgency, Victorians at home throughout this expanding empire were at once fascinated and anxious in reading about the wider world. Armchair explorers might have confined themselves to a vicarious enjoyment of the gold-nuggets that seem to lay scattered throughout the expanding settler world, of adventures in an excitingly exoticised “bush,” and of shipwrecks and dubious impostors who sometimes seemed to return from the middle of nowhere. Readers could even indulge in a smugly self-congratulatory sense of amusement when witnessing the satirised ignorance of Flora Finching in Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit (1857), when she famously evokes semi-colonial China as such a country to live in for so long a time, and with so many lanterns and umbrellas too how very dark and wet the climate ought to be and no doubt actually is, and the sums of money that must be made by those two trades where everybody carries them and hangs them everywhere, the little shoes too and the feet screwed back in infancy is quite surprising, what a traveller you are! (152; ch. 13).
Victorian literature and culture
© 2015 Cambridge University Press. This paper was published in Victorian Literature and Culture and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of Cambridge University Press. The paper can be found at the following official DOI: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1060150314000527]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.