Australian And Canadian Literature

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Information about Australian And Canadian Literature

Published on August 18, 2009

Author: mehdi_hassanian



Examine Australian and Canadian Literature in the light of the statement that ‘English literature outside Britain have been considered as individual, national enterprises forming and reflecting each country’s culture’. You should discuss the work of two writers.

Examine Australian and Canadian Literature in the light of the statement that ‘English literatures outside Britain have been considered as individual, national enterprises forming and reflecting each country’s culture’. You should discuss the work of two writers. Mehdi Hassanian esfahani (GS22456) Australian and Canadian Literature (BBL5304) Lecturer: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Malachi Edwin Vethamani UPM, April 2009. Discussing and differentiating between national literature and international literature is a controversial issue. When I was first reading about postcolonial literature, I don’t remember where, a critic has said that winning international prices (such as The Nobel prize) or selling worldwide is a sign of internationality. Whether we agree with it or not, there are still other factors, more concerned about the text itself, which may predict if a book is going to be accepted internationally or not? In the following, I will analyze Cohen’s poems and Munro’s stories from Canada, and Hope’s poems and Malouf’s novel from Australia in a comparative study with a more detailed analysis of Canadian authors. Literature of Canada covers a vast range of topics, mostly from a universal point of view. Kröller in her book ‘The Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature’ suggests that for many, Canada is considered a part of, or another state of the United States, and the influence of American Literature is obvious here. In this sense, she categorizes works of contemporary Canadian authors as international books, although she claims that there are some particularly

Canadian features in them. According to her, only some forms and genres have been discussed here and Canadians have experienced limited range of forms. But even though, if for example Canada has less history, it has more than enough nature. ‘Fresh wilderness of outside setting’ is particularly connected to Canada’s landscape, and it helps to enrich the text other than distancing it from international readers. In other words, it seems that literature of Canada doesn’t solely address Canadians. Reading poems and lyrics of Leonard Cohen, there are different social issues he talks about. They may refer to the current society of Canada, but also fit into the modern life of human beings, anywhere outside the country. He may doubt about religion and question the faith, or sing a love song like ‘Dance me to the end of love’ and spread happiness around. Even his skeptical view that apparently questions fidelity narrates a universally common theme. He has some political poems, but according to globalization, there is no border for political considerations and they may not be considered local poems too. Cohen doesn’t write of a Canadian event; what he speaks of are universal issues. This is, perhaps, the keyword that makes him an internationally recognized figure in literature (aside from his voice). ‘Hey, that's no way to say goodbye’ includes a monologue by a lover who faces their separation. It talks of love and pain. As he says that ‘yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new / in city and in forest they smiled like me and you’ the theme is not a unique one either. It is something experienced through ages and does not belong only and solely to Canadians. The same thing happens in other poems, like ‘Bird on the wire’ or the famous ‘Suzanne’. Cohen’s poems have almost no connection to Canadian culture in particular, and if he uses Canada and its landscape it is just to create the setting. Munro’s short stories follow the same custom; although the setting is Ontario, what she tells is more universal. Her words seem [2]

like a gossip, according to Howells, what she narrates is an ordinary story that may happen for every single woman anywhere on the Earth. If she talks of Canada, it doesn’t have a privilege to other places. Even the setting of place may be claimed to be universal in her stories, as Ontario doesn’t play a role in the story. The very first reason for internationality of themes may be the fact that Canadian society is multi-cultural and populated more by immigrants from all over the world, than natives. As a result, to talk of a common experience for all, author may be forced to ignore native and Indian issues or repeat a particular universal theme. Correspondingly, Munro talks of girls or women who encounter challenges and struggle within a patriarchal society, but she never tell us a story unique for Canadians. What she depicts may happen in the society outside. The story she narrates, though mostly happens in Canada’s landscapes, can be repeated anywhere around the world. Even the reaction of protagonist is not unique to present a particularly Canadian lifestyle. Based on the sample texts we read from Canadian literature, they go beyond national literature. Although they present the culture and storytelling style of Canadians, they use an international language and display familiar happenings. As a result, their audience and their topics are not limited. However, it is different when we read Australian literature. For example, Malouf’s novel is identity centered, as if the author is preoccupied with racist issues and the matter of identity for both natives and Europeans who have migrated there. He writes the whole novel to depict these two communities, and the problems they face living together. ‘Remembering Babylon’ discusses a man, who has lived with black natives and has learnt a lot from them, but still feels a lack inside. He is in search of his identity and enters the white’s camp to find his roots, although he [3]

would get disappointed and leave them soon. Malouf’s story is deliberately about difficulties of first settlements / natives of Australia Amazingly, the poetry of Australia is the same, as if Australian people are more preoccupied with postcolonial concepts of seeking identity and finding their own voice in late 1900s. A. D. Hope writes especially for / about Australian audiences, although he talks of universal issues as well. In ‘Imperial Adam’, as an example, he uses a conventional style to imply a sin committed due to lack of knowledge. His elevated language is unique. His contribution to Australia leads to a poem called ‘Australia’, in which he criticizes the country but also claims his sense of belonging by calling it ‘home’. A. D. Hope is an internationally recognized poet from Australia. Being educated in the UK, he shows concerns regarding international issues, including his homeland’s, i.e. Australia’s, problems. He is critical and watchful toward the society. It is common between Australian writers. Comparing these two authors, David Malouf is more involved into ‘Australian writing’ and the tradition of such a local literature. Male identity is a repeated theme on his stories. Examining Canadian and Australian literature, based on the above examples studied in this course, the latter one is more easily recognizable as a national literature perhaps due to its theme; mostly dealing with postcolonial issues and aboriginals’ situation. For Australians, national literature was a part of building the country. It was the account of Australian’s culture, society and lifestyle. But for Canadians, it was a little different. What Canadian critics asked for was a rebirth of literature; a new prospective to literature which was more suitable to Canadians’ needs. McGee, introduced by Ballstadt as 'a prophet of Canadian Literature' was among the people who encouraged writers to write about their own [4]

people. In this way, he chose the motto "no literature, no national life" as his basic premise. He presented many genres to Canadian literature and enriched their traditions by emphasizing on a kind of Canadian overlook to the world outside. McGee’s effort to establish and improve national literature and other critics demand for such a thing resulted in a national tradition and style of storytelling between Canadian writers, followed and observed by many contemporary authors such as Atwood. To make a long story short, Canadian literature can be observed as a distinctive national literature presenting national culture and historical heritage of Canada, glorifying the country and praising its people, although it is introduced internationally to people outside the borders of Canada, too. The reason for such a universally acceptance of Canadian Literature may be rooted to the multi-cultural society of Canada. Works Cited Ballstadt, Carl. "Thomas D'Arcy McGee as a Father of Canadian Literature". Studies in Canadian Literature. April 15th, 2009 < get.cgi?directory=vol1_1/&filename=ballstadt.htm>. Howells, Coral Ann. Alice Munro. USA: Manchester UP, 1998. Kröller, Eva-Marie. The Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature. UK: Cambridge UP, 2004. [5]

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