Esther’s Space- journey through my life

November 9, 2007

In the end, there will be a paper…

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 8:42 am

Key ideas:

  • Linda Hutcheon sees postmodern narrative as a “paradoxical confrontation of self-consciously fictive and resolutely historical representation” (Politics 66)
  • Postmodernism as a way of reading, rather than a time period.
  • In an interview, Kate Grenville stated, “the subject of this book is actually white settlers, it’s the white settler response to the fact that the Aboriginal people were on the land they wanted to settle on. It’s not actually about the Aboriginal response to the white settlers. That’s not a story I could tell. I do believe that you have to draw on what you know to write well, and I don’t pretend to understand or be able to empathise (sic.) particularly with a tribal Aboriginal person from 200 years ago; that’s beyond me.”

     Kate Grenville’s novel, The Secret River, can be read as an epistemological investigation of the interaction between English settlers and Australian aborigines, as a plausible re-visioning of the past. However, if one employs the techniques of postmodern and postcolonial reading, it becomes clear that this attempt at fashioning a historiographical narrative reveals a number of disconnects between the author’s stated goals and the text she produced. Often, there are moments in which her language lends itself to a particularly imperialistic re-visioning of history, meant to reiterate the ‘traditional’ ideas of the ‘othered’ native, despite her assertions that the novel is meant to be a fair and balanced representation of the challenges that faced both English settlers and the aboriginal people of Australia.


Things I still have to unpack:

  • If postmodern narrative is self-consciously fictive, does this novel not apply, since it is not overtly self-conscious; it relies on the reader to recognize the disconnects between the author’s goals and the work produced?
  • Why does it matter that the author could not construct a novel that met her own goals? Is this a subconscious manifestation of her own discomfort with her ancestral past?
  • What are the implications of the author’s claim that she did not feel it appropriate to imagine the past from an Aboriginal perspective, but did feel as if she understood how her ancestor’s felt in particular situations? Why did she feel like she could ‘understand’ the latter and not the former, is it simply another way of avoiding giving the minority a voice?

 Sources: I gots the Hutcheons on the brain.

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