Chapter

John Buchan and Wilson Harris: Myth and Counter-Myth, Exploration and Empire

David Punter

in Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748637744
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652143 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637744.003.0007
John Buchan and Wilson Harris: Myth and Counter-Myth, Exploration and Empire

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This chapter addresses John Buchan's Prester John and Wilson Harris' The Palace of the Peacock. Among the themes, it touches on definitions of heroism; accounts of the journey; approaches to the exotic; the figure of the adventurer; and the locations of empire. The ‘story’ of The Palace of the Peacock is much harder to describe, since essential elements in it shift and change, but it does concern a river journey undertaken by the leader, known only as Donne, and his crew. The enigmatic name of Donne reverberates throughout The Palace of the Peacock. In Prester John, there is always a surrounding prospect of safety, if only the adventurer can be sufficiently intrepid and lucky to get to it. It may be an unpalatable text these days; but to deny its power would be to consign yet another version of history to a premature grave.

Keywords: John Buchan; Prester John; Wilson Harris; The Palace of the Peacock; heroism; journey; empire; Donne

Chapter.  6151 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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