And the Birds Began to Sing

Religion en Literature in Post-Colonial Cultures

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Editor: Jamie S. Scott
Taking as its starting-point the ambiguous heritage left by the British Empire to its former colonies, dominions and possessions, And the Birds Began to Sing marks a new departure in the interdisciplinary study of religion and literature. Gathered under the rubric Christianity and Colonialism, essays on Brian Moore. Timothy Findley, Margaret Atwood and Marian Engel, Thomas King, Les A. Murray, David Malouf, Mudrooroo and Philip McLaren, R.A.K. Mason, Maurice Gee, Keri Hulme, Epeli Hau'ofa, J.M. Coetzee, Christopher Okigbo, Chinua Achebe, Amos Tutuola and Ngugi wa Thiong'o explore literary portrayals of the effects of British Christianity upon settler and native cultures in Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, and the Africas. These essays share a sense of the dominant presence of Christianity as an inherited system of religious thought and practice to be adapted to changing post-colonial conditions or to be resisted as the lingering ideology of colonial times. In the second section of the collection, Empire and World Religions, essays on Paule Marshall and George Lamming, Jean Rhys, Olive Senior and Caribbean poetry, V.S. Naipaul, Anita Desai, Kamala Markandaya, and Bharati Mukherjee interrogate literature exploring relations between the scions of British imperialism and religious traditions other than Christianity. Expressly concerned with literary embodiments of belief-systems in post-colonial cultures (particularly West African religions in the Caribbean and Hinduism on the Indian subcontinent), these essays also share a sense of Christianity as the pervasive presence of an ideological rhetoric among the economic, social and political dimensions of imperialism. In a polemical Afterword, the editor argues that modes of reading religion and literature in post-colonial cultures are characterised by a theodical preoccupation with a praxis of equity.

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Preface. Acknowledgements. Jamie S. SCOTT: Introduction. Onward, Christian Britons!. I CHRISTIANITY AND COLONIALISM. IRELAND. Jo. O'DONOGHUE: A pox on both their houses. Post-Colonial Religious Conflict in the Belfast Novels of Brian Moore. CANADA. Heather SANDERSON: God this and God that and amen. Religious Discourse in the Fiction of Timothy Findley. William CLOSSON JAMES: You have to discover it in some other way. Native Symbols as Appropriated by Margaret Atwood and Marian Engel. Priscilla L. WALTON: It is, indeed, one good story, that one. Thomas King's Parodic Treatment of Genesis. AUSTRALIA. Nicholas BIRNS: Religions are poems. Spirituality in Les Murray's Poetry. James TULIP: David Malouf's Remembering Babylon. Issues of Race and Spiritual Transformation. Jamie S. SCOTT: Custodians of a British prison camp. Re-Presenting the Christian Missionary in Post-Colonial Aboriginal Fiction. NEW ZEALAND AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC. Joost DAALDER: The Religious Experience in R.A.K. Mason's Poetry. Trevor JAMES: Beyond Puritanism. Post-Colonialism's Awful Disease in the Novels of Maurice Gee. Patrick HOLLAND: Maybe there aren't words for us yet. (Re)Constructing Religion, Culture, and Family in Keri Hulme's the bone people. Edward WATTS: The Only Teller of Big Truths. Epeli Hau'ofa's Tales of the Tikongs and the Biblical Contexts of Post-Colonialism. THE AFRICAS. Trevor JAMES: Locating the Sacred. J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians. Ken GOODWIN: Seed wrapped in wonders. Representations of Religion in the Poetry of Christopher Okigbo. Ashton NICHOLS: If there is one God, fine, there will be others. Dialogical Theology in the Novels of Chinua Achebe. Bruce ROSS: The Dark, Fearful Bush. Loss and Restoration in Amos Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard. Oliver LOVESEY: The Post-Colonial Crisis of Representation and Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Religious Allegory. II EMPIRE AND WORLD RELIGIONS. THE CARIBBEAN. Patrick TAYLOR: Post-Colonial Encounters. Paule Marshall's Widow's Praisesong and George Lamming's Daughter's Adventure, Carol MORRELL: I often wonder who I am. Voodoo Character Transformations in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. Gordon COLLIER: At the gate of cultures. Religion, Mythology, and Folk-Belief in West Indian Poetry. INDIA. Doireann MacDERMOTT: Abolishing the Darkness. V.S. Naipaul's Spiritual Journey. Chelva KANAGANAYAKAM: Widows, Priests and Erring Householders. Religion and the Writings of Anita Desai. Bishnupriya GHOSH: Appearance and Eclipse. Cognitive Dissonance and Cultural Negotiation in the Hindu Fiction of Kamala Markandaya. Brinda BOSE: In Good Faith? Shadows of Hinduism on Expatriate Identity in the Fiction of Bharati Mukherjee. AFTERWORD. Jamie S. SCOTT: A Praxis of Equity. Reading Religion and Literature in Post-Colonial Cultures. List of Contributors. Index.