Romantic Indians considers the views that Britons, colonists, and North American Indians took of each other during a period in which these people were in a closer and more fateful relationship than ever before or since. It is, therefore, also a book about exploration, empire, and the forms of representation that exploration and empire gave rise to-in particular the form we have come to call Romanticism, in which 'Indians' appear everywhere. It is not too much to say that Romanticism would not have taken the form it did without the complex and ambiguous image of Indians that so intrigued both the writers and their readers. Most of the poets of the Romantic canon wrote about them-not least Southey, Wordsworth, and Coleridge; so did many whom we have only recently brought back to attention-including Bowles, Hemans, and Barbauld. Yet Indians' formative role in the aesthetics and politics of Romanticism has rarely been considered.Tim Fulford aims to bring that formative role to our attention, to show that the images of native peoples that Romantic writers received from colonial administrators, politicians, explorers, and soldiers helped shape not only these writers' idealizations of 'savages' and tribal life, but also their depictions of nature, religion, and rural society.
The romanticization of Indians soon affected the way that real native peoples were treated and described by generations of travellers who had already, before reaching the Canadian forest or the mid-western plains, encountered the literary Indians produced back in Britain. Moreover, in some cases Native Americans, writing in English, turned the romanticization of Indians to their own ends. This book highlights their achievement in doing so-featuring fascinating discussions of several little-known but brilliant Native American writers.