Romantic Literature and the Colonised World: Lessons from Indigenous Translations.


  • Olivia Murphy



This is the most interesting book I have read in some time. Part of the excellent Palgrave series Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print, Nikki Hessell’s book might be thought of as participating in the relatively small, albeit significant, field of Romantic Indigeneity. Although rarely explicitly acknowledged as such, Romantic studies has for some time demonstrated an implicit preoccupation with British archipelagic Indigeneity, which has in certain cases placed quintessentially Romantic questions of localness, place and language in a wider global context of Indigeneity. As Hessell points out, however, studies of the importance of Indigeneity to Romanticism tend to flow in one direction (as seen in works by Tim Fulford and Fiona Stafford, among others): the Romantics’ use of largely imagined Indigenous tropes. Explicit Romantic engagement with Indigeneity – from Felicia Hemans’s Indians to Robert Southey’s Tahitians – tends to reflect earlier ideas of the ‘noble savage’, and was itself, as postcolonial scholars have shown, frequently deployed as a tool of colonialism.


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