The Mythology of Imperialism: A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age

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"We, the readers and students of literature, have been hijacked. The literary critics, our teachers, those assassins of culture, have put us up against the wall and held us captive." So begins Jonah Raskin’s The Mythology of Imperialism. When first published in 1971, this book was nothing short of a call to arms, an open revolt against the literary establishment. In his critique of five well-known British writers—Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and Joyce Cary—Raskin not only developed the model for a revolutionary anti-imperialist criticism, but, through this book’s influence on Edward Said, helped usher in the field of postcolonial studies.

Nearly four decades later, The Mythology of Imperialism is all the more relevant. Its readings of British literature still offer bold and original insight into the relationship between text, artist, and historical context. But, perhaps more crucially, this book sends a revolutionary message to all readers and students of literature. Against much of today’s postcolonialism—diluted by postmodern obfuscation and largely detached from its historical roots—Raskin locates the center of his anti-imperialist criticism in the anti-imperialist struggle itself and takes his cues not from "the assassins of culture" in the academy but from the national liberation movements of his time.

Written with absorbing passion and machete-sharp analysis, this new edition of The Mythology of Imperialism includes the original text, a new introduction and afterword by the author, and a preface by Bruce Robbins.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I wish someone like Raskin had been around to teach me when I was young: it is his respect for what a young person is going through at a particular time, the stage of his/her growth that is valuable."
-—Doris Lessing,novelist and Nobel Laureate

"The Mythology of Imperialism I have read, used, and considered to be one of the genuinely important books on modern literature."
-—Edward Said


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583671863
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2009
  • Series: New Edition
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,229,844
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonah Raskin teaches First Amendment law and journalism at Sonoma State University in Northern California. He is the author of The Radical Jack London and Out of the Whale, as well as biographies of Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsberg.

Bruce Robbins is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. He is the author of Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, and Culture and The Servant's Hand. He has also edited several collections, the latest of which is Cosmopolitics, with Pheng Cheah.

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Table of Contents

Foreword to the new Edition Bruce Robbins 7

Introduction: The Mythology of Imperialism Redux 17

A Voice from the Third World 31

Introduction to the First Edition: Bombard the Critics 35

1 Chaos: The Culture of Imperialism 43

2 Kipling's Contrasts 61

3 Portrait of the Artist as Imperialist 69

4 Terror 89

5 Imperia Romana 103

6 Kim: The Middle Way 111

7 Conrad's Contradictions 131

8 Season in Hell 149

9 Lord Jim: White Skins 159

10 The Darkness of the Gulf 165

11 Russians and Revolutions 193

12 Forster and Cary: Old and New 205

13 Disconnections 221

14 Trips East 233

15 School Lessons: History and Geometry 255

16 Mister Johnson: On the Road 261

17 The End: Neocolonialism 275

18 Works of Passion and Imagination 283

Afterword: Edward Said, Colonialism, and Global Reversibility 295

Selected Bibliography 307

Index 311

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