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The captivity narrative has always been a literary genre associated with America. Joe Snader argues, however, that captivity narratives emerged much earlier in Britain, coinciding with European colonial expansion, the development of anthropology, and the rise of liberal political thought. Stories of Europeans held captive in the Middle East, America, Africa, and Southeast Asia appeared in the British press from the late sixteenth through the late eighteenth centuries, and captivity narratives were frequently featured during the early development of the novel. Until the mid-eighteenth century, British examples of the genre outpaced their American cousins in length, frequency of publication, attention to anthropological detail, and subjective complexity. Using both new and canonical texts, Snader shows that foreign captivity was a favorite topic in eighteenth-century Britain. An adaptable and expansive genre, these narratives used set plots and stereotypes originating in Mediterranean power struggles and relocated in a variety of settings, particularly eastern lands. The narratives’ rhetorical strategies and cultural assumptions often grew out of centuries of religious strife and coincided with Europe’s early modern military ascendancy. Caught Between Worlds presents a broad, rich, and flexible definition of the captivity narrative, placing the American strain in its proper place within the tradition as a whole. Snader, having assembled the first bibliography of British captivity narratives, analyzes both factual texts and a large body of fictional works, revealing the ways they helped define British identity and challenged Britons to rethink the place of their nation in the larger world.

Winner of the 2001 MLA Independent Scholars Prize

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

"Will be valuable for years to come to scholars working on life writing, colonial and post-colonial studies, and the history of transatlantic Anglophone literature."—Biography

"Should be valuable for years to come to scholars working on life-writing, travel writing, colonial and post-colonial studies, and the history of transatlantic Anglophone literature."—Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

"Shows that foreign captivity was a favorite topic in 18th-century Britain, and reveals that these narratives’ rhetorical strategies and cultural assumptions often grew out of centuries of religious strife and coincided with Europe’s early-modern military ascendancy."—Book News

"His thought-provoking book will make a real contribution to the discussions of the captivity genre."—Choice

"Seeks to place American captivity stories into a much broader context—that of an established culture getting knocked into a new perspective by contact with utter strangeness."—East-Central Intelligencer

"Extremely well written. . . . Can truly claim to have brought the genre to light and to life."—Eighteenth-Century Fiction

"Snader makes a persuasive case that scholarship on American captivity narratives has suffered from a kind of tunnel-vision in looking too exclusively at material relating to North America."—Paul K. Alkon

"A fine companion to studies of Utopias, of American captivity narratives, of travel literature, and of eighteenth-century fiction in general. . . . Pleasingly well-written and organized."—Percy G. Adams

"A book about captivity narratives . . . showing that they are a genre with a much longer history than is commonly assumed by those who refer only to North American examples."—SEL (Studies in English Literature)

"A pioneering work in early-modern British and American studies. . . . The first extended study of the transatlantic relationship between the popular genres of the captivity narrative and the novel."—Vincent Carrett

Publication Date

2000

Publisher

The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY

ISBN

9780813121642

eISBN

9780813149530

Keywords

Captivity narratives, Colonialism, Early modern English literature

Disciplines

Literature in English, British Isles

Caught between Worlds: British Captivity Narratives in Fact and Fiction
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