Skip to main content


  • Bradley Deane (a1)

Cecil Rhodes, the “Colossus” of late Victorian empire, proudly proclaimed himself a barbarian. He spoke of his taste for things “big and simple, barbaric, if you like,” and boasted that he conducted himself “on the basis of a barbarian” (Millin 165, 242). His famous scholarships designed to turn out men fit for imperial mastery required success in “manly outdoor sports,” a criterion Rhodes privately called the proof of “brutality” (Stead 39). Yet while Rhodes celebrated qualities he called barbaric or brutal, his adversaries seized upon the same rhetoric to revile him. During the Boer War, for instance, the tactics by which Rhodes and his friends tightened their grip on South Africa were boldly condemned by Henry Campbell-Bannerman as “methods of barbarism.” Similarly, G. K. Chesterton denounced Rhodes as nothing more than a “Sultan” who conquered the “East” only to reinforce the backward “Oriental” values of fatalism and despotism (242–44). This strange consensus, in which Rhodes and his critics could agree about his barbarity, reflects a significant uncertainty about late Victorian imperial ambitions and their relationship to “barbarism.” Clearly, the term was available both to the empire's critics as a metaphor for unprincipled or indiscriminate violence and to imperialists as a justification for their efforts to bring civilization to the Earth's dark places, to spread the gospel, and to enforce the progress of history that the anthropologist E. B. Tylor called “the onward movement from barbarism” (29). But Rhodes's cheerful assertion of his own barbarity represents something altogether different: the apparent paradox of an imperialism that openly embraces the primitive. Nor was Rhodes alone in sounding this particularly troubling version of the barbaric yawp. During the period of the New Imperialism (1871–1914), Victorian popular culture became engrossed as never before in charting vectors of convergence between the British and those they regarded as primitive, and in imagining the ways in which barbarians might make the best imperialists of all. This transvaluation of savagery found its most striking expression in the emergence of a wildly popular genre of fiction: stories of lost worlds.

Hide All
Adams James Eli. Dandies and Desert Saints: Styles of Victorian Masculinity. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995.
Arata Stephen. Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siecle. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
Atkins Francis Henry [pseud. Frank Aubrey]. The Devil-Tree of El Dorado. 1896. New Jersey: Wildside, 2001.
Atkins Francis Henry [pseud. Frank Aubrey]. A Queen of Atlantis: A Romance of the Caribbean Sea. 1899. New York: Arno, 1975.
Ballantyne R. M.The Giant of the North; or, Pokings Round the Pole. 1881. New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, n.d.
Bederman Gail. Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995.
Bhabha Homi. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Brantlinger Patrick. Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1988.
Campbell-Bannerman Henry. Speech to the National Reform Union, July 14, 1901.
Chatterjee Partha. The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993.
Chesterton G. K. “The Sultan.” A Miscellany of Men. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1912. 238–44.
Chrisman Laura. Rereading the Imperial Romance: British Imperialism and South African Resistance in Haggard, Schreiner, and Plaatje. New York: Oxford UP, 2000.
Churchward James. The Lost Continent of Mu. 1926. London: Neville Spearman, 1959.
Cobban James MacLaren. The Tyrants of Kool-Sim. London: Henry, 1896.
Davidoff Leonore, and Hall Catherine. Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780–1850. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
Dawson Graham. Soldier Heroes: British Adventure, Empire, and the Imagining of Masculinities. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Derrida Jacques. “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Human Sciences.” Writing and Difference. Trans. Bass Alan. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1980. 278–94.
Dickens Charles. “The Noble Savage.” 1853. The Uncommercial Traveler and Reprinted Pieces. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1958. 467–73.
Donnelly Ignatius. Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. 1882. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1971.
Doyle Arthur Conan. The Lost World. New York: A. L. Burt, 1912.
Doyle Arthur Conan. The Maracot Deep. 1928. New York: Doubleday, 1933.
Ellingson Ter. The Myth of the Noble Savage. Berkeley: U of California P, 2001.
Fabian Johannes. Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object. New York: Columbia UP, 1983.
“A Forgotten Race.” Cornhill 17 (1891): 38–55.
Fussell Paul. “Irony, Freemasonry, and Humane Ethics in Kipling's ‘The Man Who Would Be King.’” ELH 25.3 (1958): 216–33.
Gilbert W. S. and Sullivan Arthur. “The Pirates of Penzance.” 1879. The Complete Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan. Ed. Bradley Ian. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. 187263.
Green Martin. Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire. New York: Basic Books, 1979.
Haggard H. Rider. Alan Quatermain. 1887. Ed. Butts Dennis. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.
Haggard H. Rider. King Solomon's Mines. 1885. Ed. Monsman Gerald. Petersborough: Broadview, 2002.
Haggard H. Rider. When the World Shook. London: Cassel, 1919.
Haley Bruce. The Healthy Body and Victorian Culture. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1978.
Hall Donald E., ed. Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.
Hanson Carter F. “Lost Among White Others: Late-Victorian Lost Race Novels for Boys.” Nineteenth Century Contexts 23.4 (2001): 497–527.
Herbert Christopher. Culture and Anomie: Ethnographic Imagination in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991.
Herbert Christopher. “Epilogue: Ethnography and Evolution.” Victorian Studies 41.3 (Spring 1998): 485–93.
Hobsbawm Eric. “Barbarism: A User's Guide.” On History. New York: New Press, 1997. 253–65.
Hughes Thomas. Tom Brown's School Days. 1857. Ed. Sanders Andrew. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989.
Hyne C. J. Cutliffe. The Lost Continent. 1899. New York: Ballantine, 1972.
Katz Wendy R. Rider Haggard and the Fiction of Empire: A Critical Study of British Imperial Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987.
Kingsley Charles. Hypatia; or New Foes with an Old Face. 1853. New York: Macmillin, 1888.
Kingsley Charles. Westward Ho! or, The Voyages and Adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh, Knight, of Burrough, in the County of Devon, in the Reign of Her Most Glorious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. Cambridge: Macmillin, 1855.
Kipling Rudyard. Collected Stories. Ed. Gottlieb Robert. New York: Knopf, 1994.
Kipling Rudyard. “The Finest Story in the World.” 1893. Collected Stories 257–89.
Kipling Rudyard. “The Man Who Would Be King.” 1888. Collected Stories 215–55.
Kipling Rudyard. “The White Man's Burden.” 1899. Collected Verse of Rudyard Kipling. New York: Doubleday, 1907. 215–17.
Lane Christopher. The Ruling Passion: British Colonial Allegory and the Paradox of Homosexual Desire. Durham: Duke UP, 1995.
Lang Andrew. “The End of Phaeacia.” The Wrong Paradise and Other Stories. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, 1886. 3107.
Low Gail Ching-Liang. White Skins, Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism. New York: Routledge, 1996.
Macaulay Thomas Babington. “Minute on Indian Education (2 February 1835).” Macaulay: Prose and Poetry. Ed. Young G. M.. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1967. 719–30.
Mangan J. A.“‘Muscular, Militaristic and Manly’: The British Middle-Class Hero as Moral Messenger.” The International Journey of the History of Sport 13.1 (March 1996): 2847.
Marx Edward. “How We Lost Kafiristan.” Representations 67 (Summer 1999): 4466.
McClintock Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Millin Sarah Gertrude Liebson. Cecil Rhodes. New York: Harper, 1933.
Meyers Jeffrey. “The Idea of Moral Authority in ‘The Man Who Would Be King.’” SEL 8.4 (Fall 1968): 711–23.
Nietzsche Friedrich. The Will to Power. Trans. Ludovici Anthony M.. Vol. 1. New York: Russel and Russel, 1964.
Rosen David. “The Volcano and the Cathedral: Muscular Christianity and the Origins of Primal Manliness.” Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age. Ed. Hall Donald E.. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. 1744.
Said Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1994.
Seeley John. The Expansion of England. 1883. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1971.
Sharpe Jenny. Allegories of Empire: The Figure of the Woman in the Colonial Text. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993.
Sinha Mrinalini. Colonial Masculinity: The ‘Manly Englishman’ and the ‘Effeminate Bengali’ in the Late Nineteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1995.
Smeaton Oliphant. “The Mystery of the Pacific: Easter Island and the Evidences of a Lost Continent.” Westminster Review 144 (1895): 2947.
Smeaton Oliphant. A Mystery of the Pacific. 1899. London: Blackie & Son, n.d.
Stead W. T.The Last Will and Testament of Cecil John Rhodes. London: Review of Reviews Office, 1902.
Stephen James Fitzjames. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. 1873. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991.
Stocking George W. Jr.Victorian Anthropology. New York: Free Press, 1987.
Sussman Herbert. Victorian Masculinities: Manhood and Masculine Poetics in Early Victorian Literature and Art. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.
Tosh John. A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999.
Tylor Edward Burnett. Primitive Culture. 1871. Vol. 1. New York: Harper, 1958.
Wee C. J. W.-L. “Christian Manliness and National Identity: The Problematic Construction of a Racially ‘Pure’ Nation.” Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age. Ed. Hall Donald E.. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. 6688.
Wolseley Garnett. “The Negro as a Soldier.” Fortnightly Review 44 (1888): 689703.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 53
Total number of PDF views: 299 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1126 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th February 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.