Eastern Figures

Orient and Empire in British Writing

Douglas Kerr

Eastern Figures

Douglas Kerr

Distributed for Hong Kong University Press

264 pages | 6 x 9
Paperback $25.00 ISBN: 9789622099357 Published June 2008 AAUKEU - ALL AMERICAS & UNITED KINGDOM & EUROPE
Eastern Figures is a literary history with a difference. It examines British writing about the East – centred on India but radiating as far as Egypt and the Pacific – in the colonial and postcolonial period. It takes as its subject “the East” that was real to the British imagination, largely the creation of writers who described and told stories about it, descriptions and stories coloured by the experience of empire and its aftermath. It is bold in its scope, with a centre of gravity in the work of writers like Stevenson, Kipling, Conrad, and Orwell, but also covering less well-known literary authors, and including Anglo-Indian romance writing, the reports and memoirs of administrators, and travel writing from Auden and Isherwood in China to Redmond O’Hanlon in Borneo. Eastern Figures produces a history of this writing by looking at a series of “figures” or tropes of representation through which successive writers sought to represent the East and the British experience of it – tropes such as exploring the hinterland, going native, and the figure of rule itself. Eastern Figures is accessible to anyone interested in the literary and cultural history of empire and its aftermath. It will be of especial interest to students and scholars of colonial and postcolonial writing, as it raises issues of identity and representation, power and knowledge, and centrally the question of how to represent other people. It has original ideas and approaches to offer specialists in literary history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, cultural historians, and researchers in colonial discourse analysis, postcolonial studies, and Asian area studies and history. It is also aimed at students in courses in literature and empire, culture and imperialism, and cross-cultural studies.
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