Through the life-story of its eloquent but depressive narrator, Bogle Corbet links the industrial revolution in Scotland to the French Revolution, Jamaica’s plantation economy to the settlement of English Canada. A pioneering industrial novel, colonial novel, and world systems novel, Bogle Corbet also offers an early psychological portrait of emigrant experience. Galt’s vivid vignettes show Britain and key British colonies at moments of political unrest and transition, and explore the ambivalences of a world newly governed by industrialism, capitalism, globalisation, and mass displacement. Galt’s novel thus remains a work for our own times, even as it offers important transcontinental insights into a key historical juncture. It has inspired eloquent champions (both nineteenth- and twentieth-century) and continues to spark critical debate.
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