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By Siobhan Carroll

Planetary areas similar 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 common limits of imperial growth, 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 acquainted with seeing atopic areas as otherworldly marvels in fantastical stories. areas that an empire couldn't colonize have been areas that literature may possibly 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 enjoying in that expansion.

Siobhan Carroll interrogates the position those clean areas performed within the building of British id in the course of an period of unsettling worldwide circulations. interpreting 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 bills and voyage narratives, she strains the methods Romantic and Victorian writers reconceptualized atopias as threatening or, every now and then, weak. those textual explorations of the earth's optimum reaches and mystery depths make clear power points of the British international and environmental mind's eye that linger within the twenty-first century.

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Extra resources for An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonizable Space in the British Imagination, 1750-1850

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But can this Eden remain unfallen, or is Wilkins, in introducing English culture to the Glumms, paving the way for the polar lands’ incorporation into a flawed British Empire? In the last third of the novel, Wilkins, who has effectively “gone native” by marrying into Glumm society and becoming embroiled in its politics, expands his project of domestic improvement to the shores of his new nation. In doing so, he undertakes what might be read as a typical “civilizing” mission: He instructs the Glumms in Protestantism and persuades them to abolish slavery.

These works, like this chapter, owe a debt to the pioneering work of critics like Francis Spufford, Robert G. David, and Eric G. Wilson, whose observations Brought to you by | provisional account Unauthenticated Download Date | 4/12/15 2:07 PM Po l a r Spec u l at io n s 23 regarding Arctic and Antarctic myth making are essential starting places for any analysis of polar literature. My own project hews closest to Hill’s in its interest in the constitutive role played by Arctic narratives in the construction of British national and imperial identity.

Cook’s superiors were not satisfied by his dismantling of Terra Australis Incognita, however. During the 1770s, Britain’s desire for new territories was exacerbated by American rebellion, and this desire finally outweighed the skepticism expressed by Cook and his fellow explorers. Cook was sent three times to search for the continent the ancients had insisted was needed to balance the earth and that their intellectual descendants insisted was needed to expand the empire. In 1773, having sailed farther south than any other explorer, a frustrated Cook wrote in his journal that he was “sorry” to have “spent so much time” “searching after .

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