Industrializing Crusoe: Adventure, Modernity and Anglo-American Expansionism
Young, Paul K. F.
Journal of Victorian Culture
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
To comply with publisher policy on self-archiving via the Green OA route.
This essay focuses on two updated, Americanized versions of the Robinson Crusoe story published in the final quarter of the nineteenth-century: Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island and Douglas Frazar’s Perseverance Island: or the Nineteenth-Century Robinson Crusoe. The first half of the essay considers how these Robinsonades reworked Defoe’s novel as a fantasy of applied technology in an industrialized agrarian context. The second half of the essay engages with recent historical work on nineteenth-century British expansion in order to consider how Verne’s and Frazar’s adventures might be understood in relation to the flow of migrants and money from Britain to America around the period the novels were written. As a result, the essay proposes The Mysterious Island and Perseverance Island as literary vehicles that inspired visions of agro-industrialization at a time when Victorian subjects were increasingly drawn to the American West as a site in which to sink their labour and finance. Thus linking the circulation of the adventure form with overseas capitalist enterprise, the essay concludes by reflecting upon how such expansionism might be understood with regard to the discriminatory processes of primitive accumulation and uneven development that have characterized the growth of the modern capitalist world system.
© 2013 by Taylor & Francis
Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 36-53