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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.

In: World Literature and Postcolonial Studies
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Abstract

This article takes two epidemics, one historical and the other allegorical, for comparison against the current Covid-19 crisis. Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year consists of a narrator whose objectivity and existence are ambiguous. José Saramago’s Blindness, published in the original Portuguese as an “essay,” traces the journey of a cluster of citizens through a polis afflicted by a sudden, infectious outbreak. The respective experiences of confinement: at home, in a disused mental hospital, and within the wider spaces of the city, are analysed in this article with reference to Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, alongside seminal works by Giorgio Agamben, Michel de Certeau and Susan Sontag. The article also aims to indicate how the current Covid-19 crisis may provide a scene of reading, alongside a contemporary response from Slavoj Žižek.

Open Access
In: Journal of World Literature
Author:

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.

In: Journal of World Literature