“A strange unearthly climate”: James Hogg’s tale of the Arctic wild

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The Arctic was one of the last “wild” landscapes left in the early nineteenth century. It remained an inhospitable environment, largely resisting human attempts at conquest and cultivation. The chapter is an examination of the Scottish writer James Hogg’s novella The Surpassing Adventures of Allan Gordon (1837), a story modelled loosely on Daniel Defoe’s The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe . But whereas Crusoe manages to utilize natural resources and prosper from them, Hogg’s story about a castaway is a dark satire of nature pushing back. Hogg posits the Arctic as a sublime but also unwieldy world that frustrates nineteenth-century optimism that northern latitudes could be conquered and brought under human control. The Surpassing Adventures of Allan Gordon is ultimately a story about the European subject being wrenched from itself in the encounter with the “wild.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWild Romanticism : Routledge Historical Resources Programme. Romanticism
EditorsMarkus Poetzsch, Cassandra Falke
Number of pages16
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9780367496722
ISBN (Electronic)9780367496746
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesRoutledge Environmental Literature, Culture and Media

Bibliographical note

Digital republication of a book chapter from Wild Romanticism. The chapter is reproduced on the platform Routledge Historical Resources Programme: Romanticism, edited by Duncan Wu, Jane Moore, and John Strachan. The resource is available to research libraries and other subscribers.

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