"WHAT AN IMPOTENT PICTURE!": WILLIAM GLADSTONE, GENERAL GORDON, AND THE POLITICS OF MASCULINITY IN ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON'S PRINCE OTTO

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"WHAT AN IMPOTENT PICTURE!": WILLIAM GLADSTONE, GENERAL GORDON, AND THE POLITICS OF MASCULINITY IN ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON'S PRINCE OTTO Powered By Docstoc
					             Oliver S. Buckton


             “WhaT an impoTenT piCTure!”: William GladsTone,
             General Gordon, and The poliTiCs of masCuliniTy
                 in roBerT louis sTevenson’s Prince otto


               From its first publication in 1885 through the twentieth century and
             up to the resurgence of critical interest in Robert Louis Stevenson in the
             twenty-first century, Prince Otto has remained a puzzling anomaly in the
             writer’s canon. A work that Stevenson himself ranked highly but which
             few others have viewed positively, Otto has suffered from a critical neglect
             greater than any other of Stevenson’s full-length novels. As his recent biog-
             rapher Claire Harman remarks, “Princ
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Harman claims that "Prince Otto is most interesting now for the gender anarchy it portrays" (250), and while "anarchy" may be a slight exaggeration, this essay will explore the ways in which the representation of a crisis of masculinity in Prince Otto deeply informs Stevenson's fiction as it engages with late-Victorian culture and imperialism.1 I. "My chief o' works": Stevenson and Prince Otto In May of 1883-while avidly seeking a publisher for the volume of Treasure Island which had already been serialized in the pages of Young Folks in 1881-82-Stevenson wrote his close friend and mentor W. E. Henley revealing his ambivalence about his current work of fiction: "Otto" is, as you say, not a thing to extend my public on. According to Edmund Gosse, in his Introduction to the 1907 Pentland edition of Stevenson's novel, "The labour spent in the construction of this book was greater than went to the making of any other work of the author's" (Gosse 3).3 The high place of Otto in Stevenson's esteem may partially be explained by the fact that his labor on the novel coincided with his extended and enjoyable stay, with his wife Fanny, in Hyeres on the French Riviera: as Stevenson would later remark in a letter to Colvin: "I was only happy once: that was at Hyeres" (7:93).
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