Inventing Ruritania - Goldsworthy, Vesna - Yale University Press
Literary Studies

Inventing Ruritania

The Imperialism of the Imagination

  • Vesna Goldsworthy
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Out of Print.

Through much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, writers and filmmakers in Western Europe and America have found in the Balkans a rich mine of images for literature and the movies. Bram Stokerís Transylvania and Anthony Hopeís Ruritania are among the best known of these images. In this pioneering book, Vesna Goldsworthy explores the origins of the ideas that underpin Western perceptions of the "Wild East" region of Europe. She examines Western and East European letters, diaries, personal interviews, and a wide range of Balkan-inspired literature. She shows how the lucrative exploitation of Balkan history and geography for Western literature and for the entertainment industry has affected attitudes toward the countries of the region and the Westís political involvement.

The author considers religious, national, and sexual taboos and fears projected onto Balkan lands; analyzes works by George Bernard Shaw, Graham Greene, and others who had no direct experience of the peninsula yet created Balkan imagery of lasting impact; and discusses the political exploitation and media uses of the Balkan archetypes created in literature and film.

Vesna Goldsworthy is lecturer in English literature and theatre at Birkbeck College, University of London, and at the London Centre of St. Lawrence University, New York. She is also a producer at BBC World Service.