Sembene Penny Dreadful: Discovering the Grim Side of Colonial Writing
Have you ever heard of penny dreadfuls? These were popular serialized fictions filled with thrilling and sensational content that were widely popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were typically aimed at working-class readers and were often read out loud in groups, providing a communal experience that could be both captivating and unsettling.
Origins of Sembene
Sembene was written by an anonymous writer and serialized in The Empire Illustrated Weekly. The tale traces the exploits of Sembene, an African king who is abducted by European colonialists and taken to London, where he is compelled to carry out a series of murders orchestrated by a diabolical aristocratic clique. Sembene is depicted as a savage and uncivilized figure who is both feared and venerated by English characters.
Themes in Sembene
At its heart, Sembene is a story about the clash between two cultures – the “civilized” Europeans and the “barbarous” Africans. The story reinforces colonial stereotypes about African societies as archaic and exotic, and portrays the English as superior and enlightened. However, the story also contains rebellious elements, such as the way English characters are shown as immoral and corrupt.
Cultural Implications of Sembene
Sembene is an intriguing example of how colonial writing reflected and sustained the views and convictions of the imperial power. The story embodies many Victorian era values and beliefs, such as the belief in progress, the importance of social order, and the power of science and reason. Nevertheless, it also exposes the dark side of these beliefs, such as the inherent racism and violence that was routinely justified and rationalized in the name of “civilization” and “progress.”
Why Has Sembene Been Ignored?
Sembene has received very little attention from Victorian literature scholars. This may be due to several reasons. One possible explanation is that the story was published in a periodical aimed at a popular audience, and therefore it may have been disregarded as lowbrow or excessively sensational. Another reason is that the story presents some problematic and disconcerting aspects of colonialism, which may have made it less appealing to readers and critics. Finally, it is possible that the anonymity of the author has made it difficult for scholars to locate and analyze the story.
Modern Relevance of Sembene
Although Sembene is over a century old, its themes and ideas are still relevant to our contemporary world. The story raises issues of power, race, and cultural difference that are still part of our global discourse. Furthermore, the story provides insight into the mentality and ideology that encouraged colonialism and imperialism, which are still active forces in our world today.
In conclusion, Sembene is a fascinating and unsettling example of penny dreadful writing that requires more attention from both scholars and readers. It embodies the values and beliefs of its time, and reflects the complex and often contradictory attitudes towards colonialism and imperialism that characterized the Victorian era. By scrutinizing the themes, origins, and cultural implications of Sembene, we can gain a better understanding of how literature shapes and is shaped by historical and cultural contexts.
Q: Who authored Sembene?
A: The writer of Sembene remains anonymous.
Q: What is a penny dreadful?
A: A penny dreadful was a popular serialized fiction filled with thrilling and sensational content that was widely popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Q: What is the story of Sembene?
A: Sembene is a story about an African king who is kidnapped and taken to England, where he is forced to commit a series of gruesome murders orchestrated by a diabolical aristocratic clique.
Q: Why has Sembene been ignored by scholars?
A: Sembene has been ignored by scholars for several reasons, including its popularity with a general audience, its problematic and disconcerting aspects of colonialism, and the anonymity of the author.
Q: Why is Sembene still applicable today?
A: Sembene is still pertinent today because it raises issues of power, race, and cultural difference that are still part of our global discourse. Additionally, the story provides insight into the mentality and ideology that encouraged colonialism and imperialism, which are still active forces in our world today.