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Postcolonial Departures

Narrative Transformations in Australian and South African Fictions

Hano Pipic

This book introduces a comparative transnational approach to Australian and South African literatures to move beyond the boundaries of the nation and to reveal a shared history of indigenous dispossession and violent repression. It engages with issues of trauma, suppression and the manifold concerns regarding the unfinished processes of reconciliation. The contemporary postcolonial fictions chosen for the text-based analysis intervene in the unfinished processes of coming to terms with the legacy of the colonial practices of the past. This book compares nationally diverse postcolonial texts with a particular interest in the parallels in their deliberate breaks with generic patterns and structures.

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Chapter II: Postcolonial Pastoral: David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon (1993) and Lisa Fugard’s Skinner’s Drift (2005)


Contemporary fictions by the Australian writer David Malouf and the South African writer Lisa Fugard adapt the pastoral mode to produce distinctively postcolonial forms of the genre. In Remembering Babylon and Skinner’s Drift the grounding of the pastoral in traditional ideas of human rootedness, belonging, and entitlement is challenged to address the legacies of the violent past in these settler literatures. Both postcolonial pastoral novels contest the harmonious idylls of the genre as it is traditionally conceived to represent characters haunted by the spectres of Indigenous dispossession and loss. In these fictions the pastoral is turned into a powerful critique of the settlers’ selective memory.

In what follows an overview of the pastoral will indicate a number of defining features. Recently postcolonial approaches to the pastoral explore the flexibility and mutability of the genre to suggest how it can introduce innovative forms in contemporary fiction. This comparative reading will examine how Remembering Babylon and Skinner’s Drift can be read as examples of the postcolonial pastoral, where traditional features of the genre are adapted to represent the distinctive landscapes, spaces, temporalities, and collective memories of the settler literatures.

Pastoral Traditions

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