Kuchta, Todd. Semi-Detached Empire: Suburbia and the Colonization of Britain, 1880 to the Present

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Date: Summer 2012
From: Studies in the Novel(Vol. 44, Issue 2)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,038 words
Lexile Measure: 1330L

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KUCHTA, TODD. Semi-Detached Empire: Suburbia and the Colonization of Britain, 1880 to the Present. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010. 264 pp. Cloth $59.50; Paper $24.50.

The title and the introduction of Todd Kuchta's Semi-Detached Empire provide a clear description of the argument that follows by playing on the idea of a semi-detached home in order to communicate the sense of how suburbs replicate empire. The cleverness of the title and the image it creates are used as the guiding metaphor throughout the book. The metaphor also works as a description of the book itself;

whether intentionally or not, Kuchta's text is also semi-detached from the main argument, considering white male writers with the postcolonial writers confined to the epilogue. In the introduction, Kuchta explains why there are few female authors considered in the book: "As this description of suburban male degeneration suggests, my study takes up a distinctly masculine problematic" (15). So although the body of the text studies this "masculine problematic" in the works of H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad, E.M. Forster, and George Orwell, the discussion of commonwealth writers is ghettoized in the epilogue, which gives a reading of Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia in the context of a range of commonwealth writers and popular culture representations.

Kuchta also mimics his topic in the sense that like the Victorians who lived in the suburbs in the 1880s, the book is acquisitive and does not confine itself to one type of collection. Instead, Kuchta examines literature, culture, architecture, ethnography, psychology, population studies, language, and...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A298056858