An Invitation to The Modern Traveller (1898): Hilaire Belloc’s Satirical and Youthful Narrative Verse

If we would want to appreciate the comic genius of Hilaire Belloc, and especially the inimitable comic cadence and comic syntax which mark and unmistakably pervade his 1898 narrative verse satire, The Modern Traveller, we should first consider the larger structure of his work and the nature of his boastful and mendacious narrative persona, Mr. Rooter.

For, Rooter is the only survivor of the three former associates who went south from England on a set of adventures into Africa — as purported explorers and actual exploiters, speculators and swindlers. His two other partners were Commander Sin and Captain Blood, who regrettably never returned, but died under unfortunate conditions on the expedition.

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