Italian Immigrants in Australian Fiction 1900-1950


The Italians who were written into Australian literary settings rarely tell us about the problems of what it means to be uprooted and to cultivate a new life in an alien culture and language. What they can tell us is something about how these alien sons and daughters were perceived from within the host society and the problems that local perceptions and attitudes created for the immigrants. Fiction which contains Italian characters points to when and where the immigrants begin to become visible, to when, where, how and why they impinge on local consciousness and on whose consciousness and for what purposes, and above all to the full range of prejudices, preconceptions and evaluations of Italians as immigrants - whether the authors espouse or reject the attitudes that they canvass. Questions which need to be asked of each construct include those of the functions that the Italian immigrants perform in plot and setting, of the purposes that they serve for their creators, of the messages that their presence is intended to convey.

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Published 1 May 1993 in Volume 16 No. 1. Subjects: Ethnic groups, Italian literature & writers, Italian people, Literary portrayal, Migrant literature & writers.

Cite as: Cooper, Roslyn Pesman. ‘Italian Immigrants in Australian Fiction 1900-1950.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 1993, doi: 10.20314/als.f7583f912e.