Alienation and Identity in Australasian Literature
Edited by Sheila Collingwood-Whittick
It is with the literary expression of this persistent condition of alienation that the essays gathered in the present volume are concerned. Covering a heterogeneous selection of contemporary Australasian literature, what these critical studies convincingly demonstrate is that, more than two hundred years after the process of colonisation was set in motion, the experience that Germaine Greer has dubbed 'the pain of unbelonging' continues unabated, constituting a dominant thematic concern in the writing produced today by Australian and New Zealand authors.
Narrative Structure in Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel and The Diviners
The central structural principle of The Stone Angel is its dovetailing of past and present scenes. Temporal arrangement, reflecting the frequency and duration of Hagar's memories, reveals the hold of memory over the central character and her attempts to suppress her fear of mortality. Hagar-as-narrator manipulates character-presentation and description to her own advantage. In a basically oppositional structure, her need for control is reflected in the neat ordering of the narrative. The verbal texture of the novel serves to establish a value system that insists on the superiority of imported culture over Western Canadian forms.
The Diviners shares a number of narrative similarities with The Stone Angel, but the latter's formal rigidity has yielded, by the time Laurence writes her last novel, to the concept of multiplicity - characters, time planes, perspectives and narrative voices (including metafictional commentaries). Textual coherence is secured via narrative strategies (including typography, generational paradigms, repetition, parallelism, intertextuality, and tropological patterning) that render the novel readable and present experience as ordered in a time of cultural flux and personal crisis.
Edited by Michael Bishop and Christopher Elson
Ecocritical Perspectives on the New English Literatures
Edited by Laurenz Volkmann, Nancy Grimm, Ines Detmers and Katrin Thomson
It is this shift of emphasis towards the ecological that is addressed by this volume. A fast-expanding field, ecocriticism covers a wide range of theories and areas of interest, particularly the relationship between literature and other ‘texts’ and the environment. Rather than adopting a rigid agenda, the interpretations presented involve ecocritical perspectives that can be applied most fruitfully to literary and non-literary texts. Some are more general, ‘holistic’ approaches: literature and other cultural forms are a ‘living organism’, part of an intellectual ecosystem, implemented and sustained by the interactions between the natural world, both human and non-human, and its cultural representations. ‘Nature’ itself is a new interpretative category in line with other paradigms such as race, class, gender, and identity.
A wide range of genres are covered, from novels or films in which nature features as the main topic or ‘protagonist’ to those with an ecocritical agenda, as in dystopian literature. Other concerns are: nature as a cultural construct; ‘gendered’ natures; and the city/country dichotomy. The texts treated challenge traditional Western dualisms (human/animal, man/nature, woman/man). While such global phenomena as media (‘old’ or ‘new’), tourism, and catastrophes permeate many of these texts, there is also a dual focus on nature as the inexplicable, elusive ‘Other’ and the need for human agency and global responsibility.
The Legacy of Ezenwa-Ohaeto in Nigerian Writing
Edited by Christine Matzke, Aderemi Raji-Oyelade and Geoffrey V. Davis
The book is divided into six sections. “In Memoriam” contains personal tributes by long-standing colleagues, mentors and friends. “Poetry and Fiction” collects the voices of three generations of Nigerian writing from the 1960s to the present day, followed by poetic and pictorial insights into the domestic and social life of the scholar and family man. Section Four comprises two interviews, while Sections Five and Six are devoted to critical evaluations of Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s work and to contemporary perspectives on Nigerian literature respectively.
Joel Kuortti and Jopi Nyman
This introductory chapter consists of two parts. In the first section we seek to present a critical discussion of the term hybridity and its use in contemporary post-colonial discourse. In so doing, we will address several viewpoints onto the idea of hybridity presented by theorists from Homi K. Bhabha to Néstor Garcia Canclini. We will argue that the critical power of hybridity is in its ability to question what appears natural and complete, to problematize naturalized boundaries. The second part of this chapter presents briefly the theoretical and empirical studies collected in this volume. What unites the articles is that they seek to show the relevance of the notion of hybridity in approaching a variety of phenomena ranging from ethnic writing and theatre to contemporary cinema in a world characterized by transnational migration and the globalization of culture.
Post-Colonial Studies in Transition
Edited by Joel Kuortti and Jopi Nyman
Essays on Zimbabwean Literature in English, Ndebele and Shona
Edited by Mbongeni Z. Malaba and Geoffrey V. Davis
Two essays focus on the literature of the white settler. The first distils the essence of white settlers’ alienation from the Africa they purport to civilize, revealing the delusional fixations of the racist mindset that permeates the discourse of the “white man’s burden” in imperial narratives. The second takes up the theme of alienation found in settler discourse, showing how the collapse of the white supremacists’ dream when southern African countries gained independence left many settlers caught up in a profound identity crisis.
Four essays are devoted to Ndebele writing. They focus on the praise poetry composed for kings Mzilikazi and Lobengula; the preponderance of historical themes in Ndebele literature; the dilemma that lies at the heart of the modern Ndebele identity; and the fossilized views on gender roles found in the works of leading Ndebele novelists, both female and male.
The essays on English-language writing chart the predominantly negative view of women found in the fiction of Stanley Nyamfukudza, assess the destabilization of masculine identities in post-colonial Zimbabwe, evaluate the complex vision of life and “reality” in Charles Mungoshi’s short stories as exemplified in the tragic isolation of many of his protagonists, and explore Dambudzo Marechera’s obsession with isolated, threatened individuals in his hitherto generally neglected dramas.
The development of Shona writing is surveyed in two articles: the first traces its development from its origins as a colonial educational tool to the more critical works of the post-1980 independence phase; the second turns the spotlight on written drama from 1968 when plays seemed divorced from the everyday realities of people’s lives to more recent work which engages with corruption and the perversion of the moral order.
The volume also includes an illuminating interview with Irene Staunton, the former publisher of Baobab Books and now of Weaver Press.