British imperialism's favorite literary narrative might seem to be conquest. But real British conquests also generated a surprising cultural obsession with suffering, sacrifice, defeat, and melancholia. "There was," writes John Kucich, "seemingly a different crucifixion scene marking the historical gateway to each colonial theater." In Imperial Masochism, Kucich reveals the central role masochistic forms of voluntary suffering played in late-nineteenth-century British thinking about imperial politics and class identity. Placing the colonial writers Robert Louis Stevenson, Olive Schreiner, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Conrad in their cultural context, Kucich shows how the ideological and psychological dynamics of empire, particularly its reorganization of class identities at the colonial periphery, depended on figurations of masochism.
Drawing on recent psychoanalytic theory to define masochism in terms of narcissistic fantasies of omnipotence rather than sexual perversion, the book illuminates how masochism mediates political thought of many different kinds, not simply those that represent the social order as an opposition of mastery and submission, or an eroticized drama of power differentials. Masochism was a powerful psychosocial language that enabled colonial writers to articulate judgments about imperialism and class. The first full-length study of masochism in British colonial fiction, Imperial Masochism puts forth new readings of this literature and shows the continued relevance of psychoanalysis to historicist studies of literature and culture.
John Kucich is Professor of English at Rutgers University. He is the author of "The Power of Lies: Transgression in Victorian Fiction; Repression in Victorian Fiction"; and "Excess and Restraint in the Novels of Charles Dickens". He is also the coeditor of "Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century".
Acknowledgments ix A Note on Texts xi INTRODUCTION: Fantasy and Ideology 1 Masochism in Context 4 What Is Masochistic Fantasy? 17 Multiple Masochisms 28 CHAPTER ONE: Melancholy Magic: Robert Louis Stevenson's Evangelical Anti-Imperialism 31 Masochistic Splitting in the Scottish Novels 36 Evangelicalism: Pain Is Power 47 Rewriting Social Class at the Periphery: South Seas Tales 59 Racial Projections 72 Anti-Imperialist Euphoria in the Samoan Civil War 76 The Reversibility of Masochistic Politics 84 CHAPTER TWO: Olive Schreiner's Preoedipal Dreams: Feminism, Class, and the South African War 86 The Clash of Pleasure Economies in The Story of an African Farm 90 New Woman Feminism 96 The Regeneration of Middle-Class Culture 107 Fantasizing about the Boers 113 Domestic Middle-Class Identity and the War over the War 124 Feminist Masochism, Class Regeneration, and Critical Disavowal 129 CHAPTER THREE: Sadomasochism and the Magical Group: Kipling's Middle-Class Imperialism 136 Sadomasochism, Bullying, and Omnipotence in Stalky & Co. 140 Magical Groups: Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders 151 Kim: The Magical Group as Imperial Agent 160 Magical Professionals in the Short Fiction 168 Evangelicalism and Middle-Class Unilateralism 182 Class Hostility, Classlessness, and the Magical Middle Class 188 CHAPTER FOUR: The Masochism of the Craft: Conrad's Imperial Professionalism 196 Varieties of Colonial Omnipotence 200 "In the Destructive Element Immerse" 210 Empathy as a Narcissistic Disorder 216 Class Magic and Class Melancholia 223 Professional Redemption 235 Masochistic Imperialism 244 CONCLUSION 247 Index 253