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Tracing the Connected Narrative

Tracing the Connected Narrative: Arctic Exploration in British Print Culture, 1818-1860

  • Book Info
    Tracing the Connected Narrative
    Book Description:

    By the 1850s, journalists and readers alike perceived Britain's search for the Northwest Passage as an ongoing story in the literary sense. Because this 'story' appeared, like so many nineteenth-century novels, in a series of installments in periodicals and reviews, it gained an appeal similar to that of fiction.Tracing the Connected Narrativeexamines written representations of nineteenth-century British expeditions to the Canadian Arctic. It places Arctic narratives in the broader context of the print culture of their time, especially periodical literature, which played an important role in shaping the public's understanding of Arctic exploration.

    Janice Cavell uncovers similarities between the presentation of exploration reports in periodicals and the serialized fiction that, she argues, predisposed readers to take an interest in the prolonged quest for the Northwest Passage. Cavell examines the same parallel in relation to the famous disappearance and subsequent search for the Franklin expedition. After the fate of Sir John Franklin had finally been revealed, theIllustrated London Newsprinted a list of earlier articles on the missing expedition, suggesting that the public might wish to re-read them in order to 'trace the connected narrative' of this chapter in the Arctic story. Through extensive research and reference to new archival material, Cavell undertakes this task and, in the process, recaptures and examines the experience of nineteenth-century readers.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8946-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Maps
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-19)

    ‘Arctic exploration, in so far as it can be carried out from an armchair before a winter fire, has long been for me a pursuit that verges on a passion,’ Stephen Leacock confessed in 1938. ‘I have been with Franklin on that famous journey to the Coppermine that was the prelude to his last and fatal adventure. I remember no more thrilling episode in my life than when Franklin and I … crossed the freezing Coppermine, running heavy with ice, in a craft made of willow sticks.’¹ There can be few book-lovers in the English-speaking world today who have never...

  6. 1 The End of an Epic, 1859–1860
    (pp. 20-52)

    From the autumn of 1859 to the spring of 1860 and beyond, British newspapers and magazines were filled with reports and commentaries on the return of Captain Leopold McClintock’s expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. Only nine days after McClintock’s arrival in England, theIllustrated London Newsdescribed the story he brought with him as ‘already more deeply imprinted upon the national remembrance than any occurrence of our time.’¹ A few months later, a journalist discussing the history of British Arctic exploration remarked that there was no need for him to list McClintock’s achievements, since they were ‘too familiar...

  7. 2 The Dreams of Romance, 1818–1820
    (pp. 53-72)

    Forty years before Leopold McClintock’s return to England, in the summer of 1819, readers of theQuarterly Reviewwere taking up a newly published issue¹ containing a review of Captain John Ross’sA Voyage of Discovery, made under the orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty’s Ships Isabella and Alexander, for the purpose of exploring Baffin’s Bay, and inquiring into the probability of a North-west Passage. The long (forty-nine-page) unsigned article was written by John Barrow, the second secretary of the Admiralty, a fact of which many readers would have been aware.² Barrow began by describing his disappointment with both...

  8. 3 The Threshold of a World Unknown, 1820–1821
    (pp. 73-91)

    As had happened with John Ross’s expedition, reports from Edward Parry were brought back to England by whalers in the autumn after his departure. Then in February 1820 there was a rumour that his ships had been seen at the mouth of the Coppermine River.¹ After this, no more was heard until 4 November, when theLondon Gazetteprinted a letter from Parry to John Wilson Croker, the first secretary of the Admiralty, sent to England in advance of his arrival by the whalerLeeof Hull (Parry had remained in the Arctic for a few more weeks in order...

  9. 4 A Romance in Real Life, 1821–1824
    (pp. 92-116)

    Between his return from Australia and the end of the Napoleonic wars, John Franklin was fully employed on active service, and distinguished himself on several occasions, but to his frustration, he was not promoted beyond the rank of lieutenant. After the end of hostilities, his mind turned again to geographical discovery. For obvious reasons, his aunt Ann Flinders did not think highly of exploration as a means to fortune or happiness. She expressed her views very plainly (and often with considerable bitterness) in her letters.¹ Nevertheless, in 1815, when Franklin heard rumours of a projected expedition to the Congo, he...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 The Nelsons of Discovery
    (pp. 117-140)

    The evolution of the nineteenth-century naval metanarrative of British history began with the celebration of Horatio Nelson and other naval heroes of the Napoleonic wars by their contemporaries. It was continued by such authors as John Barrow,¹ J.A. Froude, and Thomas Macaulay, who reflected on the role played by sailors during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, as well as in their own day. They adapted representations of England as a sea power found in the literature of earlier periods, Barrow and Froude drawing on Hakluyt and Purchas² and Macaulay on Pepys and Lord Halifax.³ Froude’s article ‘England’s Forgotten Worthies’...

  12. 6 Their Tribute from the General Voice, 1823–1848
    (pp. 141-166)

    It was through theMirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instructionthat the Arctic story first came within the reach of a mass reading audience. TheMirror, which began publication in late 1822, is of particular interest because its publisher, John Limbird, and its editor, Thomas Byerley, were not members of the upper class seeking to reconcile workers to their lot. As Jonathan Topham has demonstrated, they were part of the radical publishing underworld so vehemently denounced by theQuarterly Review. Limbird was an associate of Thomas Dolby, who printed many of William Cobbett’s publications, including thePolitical Register. Dolby and...

  13. 7 The Knight-errantry of Our Day, 1848–1852
    (pp. 167-201)

    It was in the 1850s, according to Richard Altick, ‘that the reading public could first be called a mass public in anything like modern terms … the familiar phrase of “literature for the millions” ceased to be mere hyperbole and came to have a basis in sober fact.’¹ The enormous circulations attained by many cheap weeklies were a constant reminder that the masses were very numerous indeed. Among these mass circulation journals only theIllustrated London Newswas not radical in its politics. TheILNsold 67,000 copies per issue in 1850 and 123,000 by 1854, just before the ‘taxes...

  14. 8 The Duty of a People, 1852–1857
    (pp. 202-229)

    The period when Sir Edward Belcher’s expedition remained in the field was an interval of relative calm before the storms of 1854. In the fall of 1854 issues of class and race sparked debates of a bitterness not previously known in Arctic literature. In 1852 and 1853, however, the yearly news from the north was of a generally positive nature.

    William Kennedy returned in the fall of 1852. He could report only that extensive sledge journeys had been undertaken in Boothia and North Somerset, again without finding Franklin or any hint of his whereabouts. However, the length of Kennedy’s journeys...

  15. 9 A Sacred Sorrow, 1857–1860
    (pp. 230-244)

    The quest on which Leopold McClintock set out in the summer of 1857 was to bring the story of Arctic exploration to a noble and fitting end. He might possibly rescue survivors, but it was far more likely that he would carry home only the last words left behind by dead men. To save these words from oblivion seemed to be an almost sacred mission because they were so fraught with personal and national significance. ‘The deepest interest must attach to this undertaking,’ declared theNew Monthly. ‘M’Clintock goes forth, single-handed, to complete the search.’¹ McClintock himself later wrote in...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 245-294)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 295-316)
  18. Index
    (pp. 317-330)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-332)