Trauma, Sublime, And the Ambivalence of Imperialist Imagination in H. G. Wells's the War of the Worlds (Report) By Extrapolation

Trauma, Sublime, And the Ambivalence of Imperialist Imagination in H. G. Wells's the War of the Worlds (Report)

By Extrapolation

  • Release Date: 2009-03-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

Trauma, Sublime, And the Ambivalence of Imperialist Imagination in H. G. Wells's the War of the Worlds (Report) By Extrapolation. Normally, this book will cost you $5.99, Here you can download thousands of books in PDF file format for free without needing the extra spent money. Click the download button above or alternative link below to download thousands of books in PDF file format.

Description

* British literature around the end of the nineteenth century, Patrick Brantlinger writes, "betray[s] anxieties characteristic of the late Victorian and Edwardian Imperialism both as an ideology and as a phase of political development" (236). The anxieties in question are not only of "the waning of religious orthodoxy," but also "about the ease with which civilization can turn into barbarism or savagery and thus about the weakening of Britain's imperialist hegemony" (229). H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds (1898) (1) appeared amid this general cultural milieu, and, as it is also attested by the reference within its first few pages to the destruction by colonialism of the Tasmanians, the bison and the dodo (9), anxieties about imperialism were formative to its composition. The anxieties surface in the text through an ambivalence in Wells's critique of the Empire. While the manifest narrative of the invasion (with colonizing aims) of imperialist Britain by superior technology-wielding Martians enacts a retributive "justice," there are also countervailing motifs and strategies in The War of the Worlds that suggest covert defense of the Empire. The ambivalence in Wells's representation of the Empire in The War of the Worlds has not escaped the critical gaze of his readers. In his Critical Theory and Science Fiction, Carl Freedman observes: "Though the text can, indeed, be read as licensing xenophobic fear of the cultural Other as biologically and astronomically alien, its more powerful tendency is to estrange British colonialism by showing Britain itself in the (then but not later) almost unimaginable position of colonial victim" (53). If Freedman attenuates the ambivalence by consigning it to the subordinate clause and shifting the rhetorical weight to Wells's critique of British colonialism, in John Rieder's more detailed reading of The War of the Worlds, the ambivalence is foregrounded more starkly. Rieder identifies in the text a manifest sympathy for the colonized (in its comparison of the Martian invasion with the colonialism-supervised genocide of Tasmanians and the extinction of the dodo) which empowers an ethical critique of the excesses of Empire. The critique is undermined, Rieder explains, by rendering the Martian invasion as one that is determined by the necessity of survival (thus tacitly legitimizing colonial violence along the logic of social-Darwinist determinism) (381). In his superb study of Wells, John Huntington points out similar ambivalence when he observes, "The War of the Worlds upholds an ethical ideal without relinquishing its admiration for evolutionary success" (84); but in Huntington's (acknowledged) New-Critical/Structuralist-anthropologistic protocols of reading the ideological weight of such ambivalence is muted into an aesthetic of the balance of opposites ("Preface" xiv-xv).