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Description - Bright Paradise by Peter Raby

'A fabulously rich, anecdotal and gripping account of those men and women who ventured out from Britain into the swamps and jungles of the tropics in search, knowingly or not, of the missing link. Through their stoical-sometimes crack-brained-voyages, the shape of the world, geographically and biologically, was elucidated. Never have more significant journeys been made...Enthusiastic, informed and racy, this is one of the most invigorating accounts of the exploits of people from an age whose intrepidity is staggering'. 'Peter Raby's book follows a disparate crew of botanists, scientists and collectors, who tried to order the earthly paradise which unfolded around them. Entrepreneurs they may have been - many were dependent on selling their specimens to finance their trips - but they were also scrupulous and sensitive observers...Raby finds some shimmering, personalities...His book is excellent' - "Daily Telegraph".

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712673921
ISBN-10: 071267392X
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 19mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 5-Jun-1997
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Bright Paradise by Peter Raby

Book Reviews - Bright Paradise by Peter Raby

US Kirkus Review » A lucid and lively survey of Victorian explorers from Raby (English/Homerton College, Cambridge). "For the English in the nineteenth century, abroad, and especially the Empire and the colonies, existed to bring things back from," notes Raby in a neat introductory capsulization. Bring things back they did, to a fare-thee-well, but they were also, the author makes clear, agents in the imperial juggernaut, "part of a slow but inexorable process of domination and annexation." Opening the world to commerce may have been the end result, yet each of the venturers heard his or her own drummer and fashioned an inimitable style afield. Raby profiles Mungo Park, Richard Lander, and Heinrich Barth on their African sorties; Joseph Hooker's plant collecting in India and the mountain kingdoms to the north; Charles Darwin's monumental classification undertakings while being ferried about on the Beagle; the scientific entrepreneurs Henry Walter Bates, Alfred Wallace, and Richrad Spruce, who traded in beetles (a Victorian fancy), birds, and dried plants (though it is odd that Raby makes no mention here of the recent biopiracy controversies, particularly with Spruce, whose cinchona and rubber gatherings are a hot topic). And as women explorers have been given short shrift for their contibutions, Raby takes pains to chronicle the work of Mary Kingsley in West Africa and Marianne North's superb botanical artwork. Raby then turns his attentions to how the jottings of these explorers were appropriated and deployed by writers as diverse as Charles Kingsley, whose Water Babies Raby considers "a coded tour round the scientific debates of the mid-century," and Samuel Buffer in his utopian Erewhon, the romantic Rider Haggard, son-of-the-manse John Buchan, Dickens in Bleak House, and, of course, Conrad. Importantly, Raby shows how the works of the explorers shaped a new Darwinian and colonialist worldview, one that remains mighty influential in the modern imagination. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Peter Raby

Peter Raby lectures in Drama and English at Homerton College, Cambridge. His books include Fair Ophelia: A Life of Harriet Smithson Berlioz, Oscar Wilde, and the highly acclaimed biography Samuel Butler. He lives with his wife and family in a village on the edge of the fens.

Books By Peter Raby

Oscar Wilde in Context by Peter Raby
Paperback, March 2017
Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter by Peter Raby
Hardback, March 2009
Fair Ophelia by Peter Raby
Paperback, December 2003