Brandenstein, Claudia. "Imperial Positions in Charles Kingsley's At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies,” Span: Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies Vol. 46 (April 1998): 4-18.
Brandenstein examines Kingsley’s At Last, his account of his 1869 trip to the West Indies, and what he considered to be his role in the imperial mission.  She considers the wide range of other accounts of the West Indies drawn upon by Kingsley.  She argues that among a number of imperialist positions presented in the text is an anxious, ambivalent one, namely imperialism in peril.  “At Last casts doubt on and indeed problematizes the imperial narrative, thereby calling into question the parameters of Kingsley’s own fictional adventure story" (13).  Moreover, “At Last is not the type of bedtime story that Britain wants to tell itself, since in this text Britain is not fully figured as triumphant victor; its author is much too ambivalent towards the stock representations of colonialism popular at the time” (15).

At Last; Imperialism; Colonialism; Travel Writing; West Indies; Natural History.

Gikandi, Simon.  “Englishness, Travel, and Theory: Writing the West Indies in the Nineteenth Century,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts Vol. 18, No. 1 (1994): 49-70.
Gikandi considers Kingsley's At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies (1885) in his study of imperialist thought in English nineteenth century writers' accounts of travel to the West Indies.  He regards At Last as a "startling example" of "inherent circularity of imperial discourse" (67).  Though Kingsley went to the West Indies with liberal and Christian sympathies, he found it difficult to be objective about what he witnessed due to his theological background and intellectual tradition.  For example, he supported the strict control and supervision of the indentured Coolies, even though in England he was a strong advocate of emancipation and the creation of a '"moral bound"' between employee and employer.  Gikandi argues that Kingsley reached this conclusion about the West Indian context not because of what he saw there or because of his understanding of the Coolies' own views and perspectives.  "Rather the traveler reaches his conclusions from three mutually informing sources: official reports (both oral and written), intellectual Orientalism, and evolutionary doctrines" (67).  In common with other Victorian travel writers Kingsley was "already animated by existing themes and delimited by discursive regulations" (67).

At Last; Travel Writing; West Indies; Imperialism; Colonialism; Froude.

O’Gorman, Francis. "'More interesting than all the books, save one': Charles Kingsley’s Construction of Natural History," in Juliet John and Alice Jenkins. Rethinking Victorian Culture (London: Macmillan, 2000): 146-161.
Francis O’Gorman examines carefully the text of Glaucus; or, The Wonders of the Shore (1854-5).  He reveals that Kingsley displays a common Victorian tendency in linking the study of natural history with that of self-improvement.  Such study may be a productive use of leisure time if it helps strengthen one’s moral virtues.  Drawing repeatedly on the theme of medieval chivalry, Kingsley invests the natural historian with the heroic qualities of a knight.  O’Gorman also points to the theology of Glaucus which shows nature as consistently illustrating God’s bounty.  The student of the natural world sees the pervasive presence of God the creator everywhere.  In addition, O’Gorman sees Kingsley’s imperialistic, colonialist tendencies revealed in the desire to conquer nature.  For example, he discusses colonial connotations in the mundane task of collecting for the aquarium: “The natural historian’s collection . . . implicitly asserts the authority of the collector to appropriate and display ‘foreign’ ways of life, to signify superiority by disclosing his power to organize, describe and own examples of other forms of life” (155)

Glaucus; Natural History; Moral Lessons; Imperialism; Colonialism.

Wallace, Jo-Ann. “De-Scribing The Water-Babies: ‘The Child’ in Post-Colonial Theory,” in Chris Tiffin and Alan Lawson (eds.) De-Scribing Empire: Post-colonialism and Textuality (London and New York: Routledge, 1994): 171-184.
Wallace argues that whereas the child in The Water-Babies is the center of educational, social reform and imperialist debate, he is depoliticized in the 1984 abridged Puffin Classics edition and repoliticized in Jamaica Kincaid’s 1983 short story ‘Wingless’.  The Puffin edition, mirroring post-colonialist guilt, “is paradigmatic of ‘the West’s’ continuing and contradictory investment in a vision of childhood as a universal unmarked by class, place, or history”.  However, ‘Wingless’, “disallows such a disavowal of historical and geographical specificity by returning both the text of The Water-Babies and the child reader to colonialist history” (182).

The Water-Babies; Kincaid, Jamaica; Imperialism; Colonialism; Children.


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