The thesis of my 2005 book Disorienting Fiction: The Autoethnographic Work of Nineteenth-Century British Novels is gestured at by the three words of this essay's main title: nineteenth-century Britain's imperial expansion is the ultimate context in which to make sense of the nineteenth-century novel's apparent commitment to an autoethnographic enterprise aimed at writing into existence a delimited and distinctive culture for the English or even the British people at a time when there was every encouragement for them to regard their way of life as exhausted in identification with a globally exportable “Civilization” or capital-C “Culture” itself. That delimiting impulse found expression in what I call the “self-interrupting” features prominent in Romantic-era and Victorian narrative. This essay considers the challenges facing a planned sequel to Disorienting Fiction that would extend that thesis from the later nineteenth century into the heyday of modernism.

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