This interesting study explores the literary reflection of Britain's changing attitudes to the wider world between the Restoration and the American War of Independence.The contributors assesses the impact upon literary genres of this awareness of real and imagined travel, and of travel literature. They concentrate upon major writers: Milton, Marvell, Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Defoe, Swift, Richardson, Smollett, Sterne, Johnson, Goldsmith, and Sheridan all receive individual treatment. More wide-ranging studies on the exotic in Restoration drama and in later Augustan poetry are also included. The collection as a whole conveys the diversity of British literary culture in the 18th century, with its conflicting national and regional presences. Special attention is given to the case of Ireland.
Confidence, it is argued, is the keynote of the period. But the confidence starts to crumble as moral and imperial problems beset Augustan Britain. Her discovery of strange civilizations in the Pacific strengthens a sense of cultural relativity always present in the outward-bound imagination of the Enlightenment.