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Affinities of Postcolonial Memory

Acts of Remembrance in Alex Miller and W.G. Sebald

In: Journal of World Literature
Author:
Nathanael Pree The University of Sydney Australia Sydney

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Abstract

The Rings of Saturn and other works by W.G. Sebald are discussed in conjunction with Landscape of Farewell, by Australian novelist Alex Miller, extending Aimé Césaire’s choc-en-retour, or “boomerang effect,” and following Michael Rothberg’s articulation of “Multidimensional Memory,” to inform a comparative, transcontinental analysis of specific aftershocks of colonialism. Contexts include contemporary Brussels, Indigenous Australia and the eroded coast of East Anglia. The effects of competing and complementary trajectories that arise from postcolonial memory, the presence of found books, following Homi Bhabha, and the intertextual presences of Joseph Conrad and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, are discussed. The role of poesis articulated by an uncertain narrator against a background of exploitation and genocide is evaluated, as well as the effects of colonial activity on the landscape itself. In conclusion, the article considers the role of literature in effecting reconciliation and restitution.

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