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Title: Discourse and colonial encounter : situating Robert Louis Stevenson's South Seas fiction
Author: Tong, Shenxiao
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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The thesis begins with an inquiry into the literary romance and realism that formed the background of R.L. Stevenson's South Seas fiction, and the Orientalist discourse that has influenced contemporary criticism of colonial and post-colonial literature. Within this theoretical context, Stevenson's realistic and liberal representation of the late 19th century Pacific is seen as offering an alternative both to the romance of the exotic and to the archetypal modes specified in Edward Said's Orientalism. By looking into his correspondence, essays and travel writings during the period, I try to argue that over the last six and a half years of his life in the South Seas, Stevenson was emotionally torn between Scotland and Samoa, while rationally he was searching for the common ground of identity with the Polynesians, partly as a result of the paradoxical nature of his Scottish identity in relation to the British Empire. Two groups of the author's South Seas works are examined subsequently: his ballads and short stories that reflect Stevenson's fascination with Polynesian folklore and oral tradition, and his novels that are primarily ethnographic allegories of white men's tales. Central to both are the issues of race, language and faith. The thesis proposes that the colonial encounters in Stevenson's South Seas fiction show as much destructive impact upon Europeans as upon natives, and that the value of his fiction lies in his ability to transcend the boundary of nationality to achieve humanistic significance. The serious moral concerns which are not so obvious in his previous popular fiction reached their full development as he became associated with the colonial realities of the Pacific, and his represents the rich potential of his South Seas fiction that has until recently been neglected despite the revival of critical attention to Stevenson's major works.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available