By James Buzard
This e-book offers an formidable revisionist account of the nineteenth-century British novel and its position within the complicated historic procedure that finally gave upward thrust to trendy anthropology's notion of tradition and its authorized researcher, the player Observer. Buzard reads the nice nineteenth-century novels of Charles Dickens, Charlotte BrontГ«, George Eliot, and others as ''metropolitan autoethnographies'' that started to workout and try the ethnographic mind's eye many years previous to formal smooth ethnography--and that did so whereas targeting Western eu instead of on far-off Oriental matters.
Disorienting Fiction exhibits how English Victorian novels appropriated and anglicized an autoethnographic mode of fiction built early within the 19th century via the Irish authors of the nationwide story and, such a lot influentially, via Walter Scott. Buzard demonstrates that while the fiction of those non-English British matters committed itself to describing and protecting (but additionally inventing) the cultural autonomy of peripheral areas, the English novels that them labored to visualize restricted and mappable types of English or British tradition in response opposed to the aptitude evacuation of cultural forte threatened by means of Britain's personal advertisement and imperial growth. those latter novels tried to stop the self-incurred liabilities of a kingdom whose extraordinary succeed in and tool tempted it to universalize and export its personal customs, to regard them as easily reminiscent of a globally acceptable civilization. for plenty of Victorian novelists, a country dealing with the chance of having the ability to head and to workout its impact on the subject of at any place on the earth additionally confronted the chance of turning itself right into a cultural nowhere. The complicated autoethnographic paintings of nineteenth-century British novels used to be therefore a hard work to disorient or de-globalize British nationwide imaginings, and novelists mobilized and freighted with new value a few easy components of prose narrative of their efforts to jot down British tradition into being.
certain to galvanize debate, this ebook deals a commanding reassessment of an important second within the historical past of British literature.
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Additional info for Disorienting Fiction: The Autoethnographic Work of Nineteenth-Century British Novels
019-036 12/14/04 2:16 PM Page 31 L O C A T I O N S A N D D I S L O C A T I O N S 31 sent ‘a culture’until one has a theory of their systematic interrelations,” for—much as Ermarth argued in her different context—“relationships are not observable phenomena” (Herbert 10; emphasis in original). The fieldworker might probe a region’s every nook and cranny and encounter every aspect of its institutions and behavior without ever running up against its culture. If, following Ermarth’s grand narrative about Medieval and Renaissance epistemologies, we are inclined to regard culture as one name that caught on for those horizontal interpretive frameworks which displaced typological verticality in the early Renaissance, then the objectification of cultures can in turn be regarded as a general effect of their use as instruments to think with—one that, to be sure, has sometimes taken the specific form of colonialist stereotypings but that should not be simply identified with that form.
11 But I recognize that some will want to reserve autoethnography for contexts in which colonized peoples “talk back” to their masters and misrepresenters. Autoethnography, on this reasoning, arises when a people possesses a vision of itself as having “a culture of its own,” which means not only that it tries to correct exogenous, ethnocentric characterizations of it as lacking in culture (and hence as needing the “improving” hand of colonialism), but that it acknowledges the contingent nature and limited scope of its social system and values, rather than trying to impose them on others.
PD8062. 019-036 12/14/04 2:16 PM Page 23 L O C A T I O N S A N D D I S L O C A T I O N S 23 Leading scholars have tended to concur with Anderson’s perspective if not with every aspect of his strong claim, regarding imperial Britain as, in effect, a culture fatally blind to its own culturehood and thoroughly devoted to a selfuniversalizing tendency that serves as both cause and effect in explanations of the British Empire. 13 The bygone imperialists as Hall presents them appear to have believed in their own representations of Englishness as something “perfectly natural,” something “condensed, homogeneous, unitary” (Hall 22).