Captive of the Castle of Sennaar

Captive of the Castle of Sennaar: An African Tale

Edited by G.E. Bentley
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Captive of the Castle of Sennaar
    Book Description:

    The first part, set on an island in central Africa among descendants of classical Greek civilization, was printed in 1789 but immediately suppressed by Cumberland. A passage describing society everywhere except on the utopian island as oligarchic and unjust was deemed by his lawyer to be potentially seditious; the novel was only published a decade later, and then in revised form. The second part, set in central Africa's Mountains of the Moon among descendants of followers of a fourth-century Christian heretic, is published here for the first time.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6235-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xlii)

    George Cumberland was little known to readers of 1798, except perhaps as a gentleman of modest means who dabbled in the arts, a dilettante. But he was a dilettante in the best eighteenth-century sense of the word – a poet, a painter, a distinguished collector of prints and shells, a scientific inventor, and a friend and painter of some of the best authors and painters of his time. The friends to whom he gave copies of his long taleThe Captive of the Castle of Sennaar, such as his distant cousin the very successful dramatist Richard Cumberland and the notorious...

  7. The History of The Captive Parts 1 and 2 and the Bases of the Present Text
    (pp. xliii-liv)

    The CaptivePart 1 was probably written in 1797, and when it was finished Cumberland asked his friend Horne Tooke “to look [it] over before it went to Press”. Tooke agreed to do so on 22 January 1798,¹ and “he sat up till 2 oclock in the Morning to hear me read it in manuscript without suffering any one to interrupt us, or allowing me to leave off a moment.”² Tooke liked the tale, “advising me to Print it directly,”³ and Cumberland evidently did so.

    However, he did not see proofs, and he later complained that the printer W. Wilson...

      (pp. 3-94)

      Immured within the walls of a chamber constructed of Egyptian granite, high suspended above the earth, and too strong to nourish any hope of escape, even if I were inclined to make the unpromising experiment; how can a man, habituated to confinement, better pass away some of his vacant hours, than by recording the singular relations of a departed friend, who could have no motive to deceive him; who partook, while life remained, of the same restraints; and kindly taught the companion of his fate to mitigate its extreme severity?

      It is, moreover, pleasing to indulge the idea, that these...

      (pp. 95-296)

      In completing this philosophical Romance of the Captives of the Castle of Sennaar my object has been to exhibit Man in a state of nature, as well as under a divinerevelation; also the knowledge to be obtained by the exercise of his reasoning faculties, and the happiness which both states afford, and to shew that the miseries of mankind arise from the indulgence of the passions and that God alone is able to deliver us from evil. If the reader will follow this tale without prejudice I trust it will not fail to make him a better and a...

  9. Notes to the Text
    (pp. 297-306)
  10. Epilogue: The Geography of The Captive and the Historical Contexts of the Sophians, the Jovinians, and Memmo
    (pp. 307-322)

    The Captive of the Castle of Sennaarbegins (Part 1) and ends (Part 2) in obscure parts of the known world, but most of the action takes place on sites in central Africa scarcely known to cartographers of Cumberland’s time and quite unknown to those of ours. Lake Zambre, where the Sophians live in Part 1, and the Mountains of the Moon, the home of the Jovinians in Part 2, appeared on contemporary maps but have disappeared from ours. Cumberland has deliberately taken his characters beyond the borders of verifiable geography, but he has taken them farther than he knew....

  11. Appendix I Substantive Emendations to the Text of The Captive Part 1 (1798) Found in the Second Edition (1810)
    (pp. 323-348)
  12. Appendix II Description of the Manuscript of Part 2
    (pp. 349-352)
  13. Index
    (pp. 353-361)