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A sea of islands: tropes of travel and adventure in the Pacific 1846-1894

Rigby, Nigel (1995) A sea of islands: tropes of travel and adventure in the Pacific 1846-1894. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86074) (KAR id:86074)


This thesis is concerned with images of the South Pacific that were built up in a variety of travel books and adventure stories in the second half of the nineteenth century. The thesis will read this literature alongside the explorer, castaway and missionary narratives that formed the body of Pacific writing up to the 1850s. It will argue that these images are informed by a set of recognisable tropes and narrative traditions, which the thesis will identify through imperial narratives from outside the Pacific. It will discuss the degree to which these tropes continued to dominate representation of the Pacific.

Chapter 2 will examine the influence of images of the American Indians through Herman Melville's Typee. Secondary texts used are William Mariner's An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, George Vason's An Authentic Narrative of Four Years' Residence at Tongataboo, and Puritan captivity narratives from New England.

Chapter 3 discusses Polynesian sexuality and 'interracial' relationships through Pierre Loti's Tahiti: The Marriage of Loti, representations of the Mutiny on the Bounty and an imperial tradition of sentimental love stories. This chapter is also interested in links between images of the Orient and the Pacific.

Chapter 4 looks at the children's adventure story writer, W.H.G. Kingston, alongside missionary and travel writing from Fiji, and is particularly interested in images of slavery and Africa, and the altering meaning of savagery in mid-Victorian Britain.

Chapter 5 looks first at the writings of Charles Warren Stoddard, and then at the travel writing and adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, and will explore the differences between the two types of writing, as Stevenson began to seriously challenge in his fiction the tropes that were dominating representations of the Pacific. This chapter will question whether it is ever fully possible to free oneself from these narrative traditions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86074
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Uncontrolled keywords: travel literature; adventure stories; Pacific islands; Robert Louis Stevenson; Herman Melville; William Mariner; George Vason; Pierre Loti; W.H.G. Kingston; Charles Warren Stoddard
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:27 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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