Representations of Africa in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: West Africa - Essay

Chinua Achebe (essay date winter 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness.” In Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays, 1965-1987, pp. 1-13. London: Heinemann International, 1988.

[In the following essay, originally published in the winter issue of the Massachusetts Review in 1977, Achebe asserts that Joseph Conrad was a racist and that his novel Heart of Darkness celebrates the dehumanization of Africans. Achebe also notes that white critics have not commented on this type of racism, which, he asserts, was and is the dominant perception of Africa in the Western imagination.]

In the fall of 1974 I was walking one day from the English...

(The entire section is 5908 words.)

V. Y. Mudimbe (essay date 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mudimbe, V. Y. “E. W. Blyden's Legacy and Questions.” In The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge, pp. 98-134. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

[In the following excerpt, Mudimbe considers the claim that the West Indian writer and thinker Edward Wilmot Blyden, who settled in West Africa in 1851, was the precursor of Négritude, and analyzes Blyden's ideas on colonization, Western ideology, European attitudes toward Blacks, Islam, Pan-Africanism, and the condition and character of Africans.]


Toute ma vie, politiquement, je me...

(The entire section is 9813 words.)

Salome C. Nnoromele (essay date fall 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Nnoromele, Salome C. “Gender, Race, and Colonial Discourse in the Travel Writings of Mary Kingsley.” Victorian Newsletter 90 (fall 1996): 1-6.

[In the following essay, Nnoromele examines the travel writings of Mary Kingsley to counter the claim made by white feminist scholars that white female travelers in the nineteenth century responded to colonized Others with reciprocity, did not objectify them, treated them with empathy, and lacked many of the imperialist attitudes of their male contemporaries.]

Susan L. Blake in an essay on Mary Hall asks: “In the relation of European travelers to empire, what difference does gender make?” Encoded in the question...

(The entire section is 5410 words.)

Laura E. Ciolkowski (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ciolkowski, Laura E. “Traveler's Tales: Empire, Victorian Travel, and the Spectacle of English Womanhood in Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa.Victorian Literature and Culture 26, no. 2 (1998): 337-66.

[In the following excerpt, Ciolkowski argues that far from undercutting bourgeois womanhood and presenting a story of female liberation, Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa establishes the author's gendered identity.]


Fettered as women are in highly civilized countries by restraints, obligations, and responsibilities, which are too often arbitrary and artificial … it is natural enough...

(The entire section is 13331 words.)

Cheryl McEwan (essay date 2000)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McEwan, Cheryl. “Paradise or Pandemonium?” In Gender, Geography and Empire: Victorian Women Travellers in West Africa, pp. 65-90. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2000.

[In the following essay, McEwan analyzes the response of British female travel writers to the West African landscape, arguing that while their descriptions of the physical environment were complex and varied, they generally saw the natural environment as ordered and not chaotic and resisted the urge to establish control over the land they depicted.]

A wonderful stillness pervades these West African creeks. Except for the gentle ripple of the water among the mangroves, hardly a...

(The entire section is 7716 words.)