Arguing that the major hallmarks of Romantic
literature-inwardness, emphasis on subjectivity, the individual
authorship of selves and texts-were forged during the
Enlightenment, Rajani Sudan traces the connections between literary
sensibility and British encounters with those persons, ideas, and
territories that lay uneasily beyond the national border. The urge
to colonize and discover embraced both an interest in foreign "fair
exotics" and a deeply rooted sense of their otherness.
Fair Exotics develops a revisionist reading of the period
of the British Enlightenment and Romanticism, an age during which
England was most aggressively building its empire. By looking at
canonical texts, including Defoe's Robinson Crusoe,
Johnson's Dictionary, De Quincey's Confessions of an
English Opium Eater, and Bronte's Villette, Sudan
shows how the imaginative subject is based on a sense of exoticism
created by a pervasive fear of what is foreign. Indeed, as Sudan
clarifies, xenophobia is the underpinning not only of nationalism
and imperialism but of Romantic subjectivity as well.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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