Chapter : 5. Novels, Society & History

Colonialism and After

(f) Colonialism and After :
The novel originated in Europe at a time when it was colonising the rest of the world. The early novel contributed to colonialism by making the readers feel they were part of a superior community as compared to fellow colonialists.
(i) The hero of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719) is an adventurer and slave trader shipwrecked on an island. Crusoe treats coloured people not as human beings equal to him, but as inferior creatures. He rescues a 'native' and makes him his slave. He does not ask for his name but arrogantly gives him the name Friday.
(ii) In the twentieth century, writers like Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) wrote novels that showed the darker side of colonial occupation.
The colonised, however, believed that the novel allowed them to explore their own identities and problem, their own national concerns.

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