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Publisher Description

George Nathaniel Curzon (1859-1925), later Lord Curzon of Kedleston, was elected to the, House of Commons in 1886 and was soon acknowledged as a coming man in the Conservative Party. He was admired for both his eloquence and skill in debate and for the administrative ability which he demonstrated after 1891 as Under-Secretary of the India Office. Nevertheless, it was his reputation as an imperial and Eastern specialist which fixed the young M.P. most firmly in the public mind. A series of trips carried Curzon twice around the world, and into Central Asia from three different directions between 1887 and 1895, providing the material for three books and an array of articles which constituted the tangible evidence of his expertise as well as a conduit through which he attempted to influence Imperial policy. (1) A comprehensive examination of the texts lies beyond the scope of this brief study, but it may be demonstrated that the knowledge acquired during his travels, and the writings themselves advanced and shaped Curzon's political reputation and career. Curzon's travel writings have not been ignored by previous biographers and historians, but relatively little attention has been paid to the nexus between his politics and writings. The chronicling of Curzon's journeys, noting the particular influence they had in shaping his perceptions of the Empire and the East, is, of course, valuable, but it cannot alone explain the effect which the trips or the writings had on his career. (2) Equally, David Dilks, in his study of Curzon's Viceroyalty, and others, have noted some of the connections between Curzon's writings and the policies he desired to enact. (3) Lord Ronaldshay's official biography considers in some detail both the reasons for Curzon's travels and writings and individual cases of policy, but he, perhaps constrained by the nature of a lengthy biography, fails to analyze thoroughly these distinct elements. Finally, three recent editions of selections from Curzon's travel writings demonstrate his excellence as a descriptive travel writer. (4) While conceding that Curzon desired to be viewed primarily as a political or geographical commentator, the editor of these volumes has consciously eschewed the political element in favor of the picturesque and entertaining to emphasize its unique merit. (5) All these studies add to our knowledge of Curzon and particularly to the development of his views on imperialism. Without ignoring the importance of the personal elements of Curzon's travel writing, this paper will demonstrate that he also viewed them as a public expression of his beliefs and as a vehicle for political advancement and influence. In addition, it will trace some of the main themes of his writings and indicate some of the instances in which they presaged later opinions.

Professional & Technical
September 22
Nineteenth-Century Prose
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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