The Shelleys and Empire: Prometheus Unbound, Frankenstein, A Philosophical View of Reform, and the Modern African Fictions of Liberation
AuthorAbana, Yuxuf A
Committee ChairRaval, Suresh
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMany critics consider nineteenth century British Romanticism one of the most political movements in literary history. A major reason for this claim is that the 19th century is recorded in European history as a watershed of economic, social, and political constructions whose consequences and impact reached continents and populations beyond Europe.For example, the Atlantic slave trade, colonization, and the industrial revolution reached their apogee in the century. One outcome of these developments was the new alignments and relationships Europe entered into with African and Asian peoples. The intellectual and social character of these relationships attracted the interest and attention of the English literati who defined the Romantic movement.In particular, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel T.Coleridge, Robert Southey, Percy B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and others will reflect on the turbulent currents of the age's concerns with the ethics and implications of internal social and political arrangements and their historical projections in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In spite of the varied tone of the engravings, essays, poetry, drama and novels that defined the writers' concerns, their works will register compelling voices in literary history.This study focuses mainly on select writings of the Shelleys which respond to the social and cultural ramifications of 19th Century history and politics. A unique aspect of the Shelley's literary engagement is their appropriation and redefinition of classical myths and metaphors to develop "revolutionary" readings of history. In the process, nuanced operations of irony and paradox appear to undermine the "revolutionary" intention critics claim for the Shelleys.Also, this study explores critical assertions that claim that the historical relationships Europeans entered into with other peoples, particularly Aficans, influenced a similar development of radical politics in some Afircan writing. This history is the subject of the Chinua Achebe and Ayi Kwei Armah novels examined in this study. The examination argues reasons that similar operations of irony and paradox are present in these African writers as they develop other notions of Africa's historical meeting with Europe.