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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines novel’s relation with empire through the relationship between the form of the novel and the ideology of empire. It analyses the themes of colony and cross-cultural global encounters in popular prose subgenres of the eighteenth century, including the robinsonade, imitations of Crusoe’s island adventures, and the oriental tale, free imitations of the Islamic story collection. Although contemporary discourse on the British Empire argued that it was founded on ideas of liberty, commerce, and Christianity, the problem of slavery presented a powerful contradiction and growing controversy. Depictions of slavery in the sentimental novel advertised the asymmetrical violence endemic to the slave system, contributing to the emerging campaign for the abolition of the slave trade and, eventually, the emancipation of the slaves. Nonetheless, Gothic fictions found creative potential in the terrors of slavery and in folk beliefs derived from slave society, such as obeah and the zombie.

Keywords: novel, empire, colony, robinsonade, slavery, oriental tale, zombie

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