Popular Imperial Adventure Fiction and the Discourse of Missionary Texts

  • Gareth Gnjfiths


Mission travel and the idea of adventure are inextricably bound up in late Victorian imperial discourse. Victorian heroes included evangelical warriors, such as “Chinese” Gordon, the secular Martyr of Khartoum, who fortified himself daily with biblical reading, and missionary-explorers, who saw themselves as Christian soldiers against paganism and slavery, such as Livingstone. In the high period of late nineteenth-century expansionism, imperialism and missionary aims were essentially the same. In this chapter, I want to examine a number of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century mission narratives, which incorporate elements of these popular secular aims to show how they developed and to suggest that they were important in two ways. First, they were a significant part of the popular material, which helped shape and sustains imperial mythologies well into the twentieth century, and second, they began in the same period to be appropriated to anticolonial ends by the emerging, anticolonial leadership of the colonized peoples.


Home Market Biblical Reading Adventure Story Secular Form Popular Genre 
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Copyright information

© Jamie S. Scott and Gareth Griffiths 2005

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  • Gareth Gnjfiths

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