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Personal Identity and Tory Commercialism in John Campbell’s The Travels and Adventures of Edward Brown (1739)

Matthew W. Binney

Keywords: circumstances; commerce; internal; John Campbell; personal identity; Tory; travel narratives

Critics have argued that a shift toward the “inward” occurred later in eighteenthcentury travel writing in part because of earlier questions of credibility. However, John Campbell’s fictional The Travels and Adventures of Edward Brown (1739) focuses upon the “inward” by drawing upon a technique already used in novels—that is, depicting the narrator as a consciousness. Consciousness, or personal identity, derives from John Locke and appears in Campbell’s travel account to demonstrate how circumstances define the narrator’s travel experiences. These circumstances at once establish the credibility of the narrator’s descriptions and also promote Campbell’s Tory commercialism. For the first, the narrator’s consciousness offers a credible account by describing how people live in time and place; for the second, the narrator demonstrates how personal identity and political ideology were attached from the outset, promoting commerce and colonialism through the narrator’s depiction of a nation’s circumstances that produce unique customs and commodities.

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