By Siobhan Carroll
Planetary areas corresponding to the poles, the oceans, the ambience, and subterranean areas captured the British imperial mind's eye. Intangible, inhospitable, or inaccessible, those clean spaces—what Siobhan Carroll calls "atopias"—existed past the limits of identified and inhabited areas. The eighteenth century conceived of those geographic outliers because the average limits of imperial enlargement, yet clinical and naval advances within the 19th century created new chances to grasp and keep watch over them. This improvement preoccupied British authors, who have been acquainted with seeing atopic areas as otherworldly marvels in fantastical stories. areas that an empire couldn't colonize have been areas that literature may possibly declare, as literary representations of atopias got here to mirror their authors' attitudes towards the expansion of the British Empire in addition to the half they observed literature taking part in in that expansion.
Siobhan Carroll interrogates the position those clean areas performed within the building of British id in the course of an period of unsettling worldwide circulations. interpreting the poetry of Samuel T. Coleridge and George Gordon Byron and the prose of Sophia Lee, Mary Shelley, and Charles Dickens, in addition to newspaper money owed and voyage narratives, she strains the methods Romantic and Victorian writers reconceptualized atopias as threatening or, every now and then, weak. those textual explorations of the earth's optimum reaches and mystery depths make clear continual points of the British worldwide and environmental mind's eye that linger within the twenty-first century.
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Arguably the most influential eighteenth-century vision of an undiscovered Southern Continent, Peter Wilkins synthesizes the speculations regarding the geography of the South Pole in a revision of Robinson Crusoe that challenges that novel’s visions of colonial profits. As with most early accounts of polar space, the polar realm is depicted as populated by beings with fantastic, hybridized bodies that implicitly challenge strict classification systems. Even as it embraces marvels, Peter Wilkins urges its readers to reject chimeras of a different sort: the dreams of infinite foreign wealth that fueled the speculations of early eighteenthcentury capitalism.
In his 1779 edition of A Voyage Towards the South Pole, he defended his decision to turn back from the South Pole on the basis of the cost-benefit ratio of Antarctic exploration. Portraying Antarctica as “a country doomed by Nature,” Cook dismissed the possibility of future exploration of the South Pole. ”71 Cook’s prophetic assessment of the human cost of Antarctic voyages would be ignored by later supporters of polar exploration, who criticized cynical perspectives on the polar realms even as they invoked Cook’s name in their construction of the North and South Poles as the ultimate geographical grail.
H. Keskitalo notes in Negotiating the Arctic, the perception of fundamentally different Arctic and Antarctic regions as comparable “polar spaces” is itself a legacy of nineteenthcentury exploration,15 which tended to represent these disparate regions as part of a unified polar landscape. 18 My eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sources are less concerned with this distinction, and in their willingness to blend polar space with the lower Arctic, one can witness the emergence of a problematic geopolitical phenomenon.