English Magic and Imperial Madness

The Anti-Colonial Politics of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

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About the Author(s)

Peter D. Mathews is a professor of English literature at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea.

Bibliographic Details

Peter D. Mathews. Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8627-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4494-3
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Book Reviews & Awards

• “In a dazzling new reading, Peter D. Mathews reveals Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as exposing myths of British self-satisfaction and enacting a destabilizing, exhilarating ‘change in the night sky’ of the world we think we know. This is first-rate criticism that opens a wonderful book to its readers as never before.”—Nicholas Birns, New York University

• “With Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke managed to combine the forms of the historical novel and modern fantasy, evoking the realities of Europe in the time of Napoleon and Lord Nelson alongside wizardry and wild romance, and making both come vividly to life. Peter D. Mathews’s English Magic and Imperial Madness is a study worthy of this achievement, as it evinces deep literary and philosophical scholarship while artfully connecting an analysis of the powers of fantasy with an anti-colonial politics. Thus, Mathews effectively shows how modern fantasy literature can profoundly affect our understanding of the world and its history. It is a remarkable achievement, and a must-read for scholars of fantasy and of world literature more broadly.”—Robert T. Tally Jr., Texas State University

• “Peter D. Mathews weaves some magic of his own in English Magic and Imperial Madness, his spellbinding analysis of the “anti-colonial politics” of Susanna Clarke’s brilliant Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Triangulating sorcery, insanity, and political power, Mathews adeptly situates Clarke’s novel within the contexts of English history, literature, and culture, equipping the reader with the background necessary to appreciate Clarke’s critique of British imperialism. Mathews’ erudite consideration of myth, magic, fantasy, and politics will serve as the indispensable grimoire for those seeking to unravel the mysteries of Clarke’s rich fantasy novel.”—Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, professor of English, Central Michigan University