A Complete Identity is an examination of the hero figure in the works of G.A. Henty (1832-1902) and George MacDonald (1824-1905) and a reassessment of oppositional critiques of their writing. It demonstrates the complementary characteristics of the hero figure, which construct a complete identity commensurate with the Victorian ideal hero.
The relationship between the expansion of the British Empire and youthful heroism is established through investigation of the Victorian political, social and religious milieu, the construct of the child, and the construct of the hero. A connection between the exotic geographical space of empire and the unknown psychological space is drawn through examination of representation of the “other” in the work of Henty and MacDonald.
This book demonstrates that Henty’s work is more complex than the stereotypically linear, masculine, imperialistic critique of his stories that historical realism allows, and that MacDonald’s work displays more evidence of historical embedding and ideological interpellation than the critical focus on his work as fantasy and fairy tale considers.
List of Illustrations
Foreword by Jean Webb
1. My Hero: Method and Text
2. Historical Context
3. Genre, Mode, and Ideology
4. Child and Hero: The Construct of the Child 1850-1900
5. The Construct of the Hero 1850-1900
6. The Ideology of the Hero and the Representation of the “Other”
7. My Hero: The Complete Identity
Endorsements and Reviews
This remarkable piece of scholarship offers a bold, unexpected and exciting juxtaposition of G.A. Henty and George MacDonald, exploring their work as part of the same tradition and the product of the same culture and ideology. It sheds new light on the Victorian era, children’s and adolescent fiction, childhood studies, gender studies and a whole range of other areas of critical pursuit.
Maria Nikolajeva, Professor of Education, Professorial Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge
Scholarly, readable, thorough and in some ways revolutionary, A Complete Identity is a remarkable contribution to Henty and MacDonald studies. Students of children’s literature and Victorian literature and culture will find its close textual readings and its revaluation of the nature of the hero refreshing and highly informative.
Peter Hunt, Emeritus Professor of English and Children’s Literature, Cardiff University