|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).
Writing; West Indies; Natural
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"
Writing; West Indies; Imperialism;
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”
History; Moral Lessons; Imperialism;
Wallace, Jo-Ann. “De-Scribing The Water-Babies:
‘The Child’ in Post-Colonial Theory,” in Chris Tiffin and Alan Lawson (eds.)
Empire: Post-colonialism and Textuality (London and New York: Routledge,
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