Luise Wolff

Postcolonial Responses to Charles Dickens

Appropriating Dickens in Contemporary Australian and New Zealand Novels


Connections between Charles Dickens and Australia and New Zealand are not perfectly obvious. Still, a number of Australian and New Zealand writers have turned towards Dickens's work in the past decades. This study traces these connections between the Victorian author and contemporary Australian and New Zealand writing as it provides detailed textual readings of five Australian and New Zealand novels that appropriate Dickens and his work.

Proceeding from the question how far these texts write back to Dickens, two significant, recurring themes are considered: first, the novels explore the dynamics of dysfunctional families as they appropriate the Dickensian motif of orphanhood as well as the Australian motif of the lost child. Second, all texts focus on reading and writing processes and thus address questions about the primacy of canonical writing and the authority over stories.

Superseding a counter-canonical reading of the novels, the present study draws on theories of adaptation and appropriation, transnationalism, settler colonialism and diaspora. It shows how, rather than representing rewritings of Dickens's work, the texts place Dickens in diverse historical and cultural contexts and thus draw attention to his global, transnational appeal.


ISBN 978-3-86821-722-3, kt., 214 S., 27,50 (2018)

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