We have two exciting papers lined up for tomorrow Tuesday 22nd!
Dr Conor Reid (TCD) will be speaking on “The Lost Worlds of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger Series,” and Yuhki Takebayashi will give a paper entitled, “Oliver Goldsmith and History-Writing.” See their abstracts below.
Looking forward to seeing many of you back in the Trinity Long Room Hub at 5pm.
Dr Conor Reid
Trinity College Dublin
The Lost Worlds of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger Series
“[W]hat I am writing is destined to immortality as a classic of true adventure”, states Edward Malone, narrator of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912). One imagines that Conan Doyle, having witnessed the phenomenal popularity of his Sherlock Holmes stories, could declare this with some degree of confidence. Indeed, The Lost World has remained Conan Doyle’s most well-known and influential non-Holmes story for over a century. Far less frequently read or critically analysed, however, are the remaining works in the Challenger series, a group of texts comprising two novels, a novella, and two short stories, spanning the period from 1912 to 1929. As a series the Challenger stories can seem somewhat disconnected, with changes in narrator, tone, authorial intent and genre as the series progresses. However, there is a fundamental connection between the stories, and examining the series as a whole brings this to the fore, in the extent to which all five tales attempt to explore, record, verify and, ultimately, conquer lost or impenetrable worlds. Challenger, as scientist-adventurer, is at their centre as they each attempt to use objective, empirical science to access and authenticate a lost world. In this regard, each story centres on scientific evidence, while at the same time dangerously and often humorously flirting with fraud. This paper, therefore, will explore the ambiguous, and often contradictory, nature of the lost worlds of Professor Challenger.
Trinity College Dublin
Oliver Goldsmith and history-writing
Oliver Goldsmith (1728?-1774) was a prolific writer whose works include translations, reviews, essays, children stories, plays, biographies, history-writings and a popular natural history work. But it was his poem, The Traveller, which won him recognition among his fellow writers and elevated him to the status of a literary celebrity. To this day he is largely valued and remembered as a poet.
In contrast, his historical works have fallen into a state of limbo. Modern scholars refer to them in the capacity that they provide support for arguments with little elaboration as to how this particular genre of writing may be used appropriately. In other cases the histories are dismissed outright.
This paper will discuss the changing reception of Goldsmith’s oeuvre and trace how modern scholarship has come to de-value his historical outputs as mere hackwork. Particular attention will be paid to Michael Griffin’s work, Enlightenment in Ruins (Bucknell University Press, 2013), as it is the most recent extended study of Goldsmith. His division of Goldsmith’s writings into two categories, with the poems being distinguished as “useful” pieces and the histories being demoted as a confused patchwork of other authors’ works will be reflected upon. Following this, problematic issues associated with such interpretations will be pointed out. Importantly, the need to clarify the historical status of history-writing will be referred to and elaborated upon. Histories as political tracts; as “polite” texts and as an experimental frontier during the Enlightenment will be detailed. To this extent, figures such as Clarendon, Voltaire, Hume and Robertson and their histories will be referred to. Lastly, based upon these reflections, tentative ways Goldsmith’s history-writings may be of use to Goldsmith studies will be provided. Before concluding, this paper will broadly and briefly discuss how the methodology of historical investigation of genres may be of continuing benefit to the scholarly examination of authors.