Review of Scenes of Reading: Is Australian Literature a WorldLiterature? ed. Robert Dixon and Brigid Rooney

This is a very timely book of a range of untimely meditations. We read of ettie Palmer's early twentieth-century literary perambulations in a fishing village in southeast Queensland, of Gallic and Egyptian habitations in the antipodes, and of an oceanic Pacific connection with Russia that extends back to the pre-Soviet era and to anxieties about Russia's imperial ambitions in the South Pacific. Rather than just embrace the literary fashion of the day- world literature - this scholarly volume carefully calibrates its provenance for Australian literary studies. The result is a treasure house of insights into the transnational and worldly dimensions of Australian literature that extend from the nineteenth century to the present. These insights accrue valence not through any rearguard rhetoric about the right of Australian literature to be incorporated into the world literary system, but through a critical awareness of the work that a minority literature can do to generate a world for itself and, in the process, to illuminate the provincial nature of the metropolitan paradigms themselves. The erudite editorial introduction could not be clearer about this positioning. At the same time, to trace an Australian imaginary through scenes of reading no longer circumscribed by its recent Anglo-Celtic heritage is to open up a world of interconnections scarcely captured by terms such as minority literatures. This is, of course, unless the term 'minority' is grasped, not through the centre- periphery model of world systems theory, but through a Deleuzian typology of minority literature as de-territorialisation of a major language world- the antipodean production of literary worlds in English that are categorically non-British, as many of the essays in the volume demonstrate.

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Published 1 November 2013 in Volume 28 No. 4. Subjects: Transnationalism.

Cite as: Ganguly, Debjani. ‘Review of Scenes of Reading: Is Australian Literature a WorldLiterature? ed. Robert Dixon and Brigid Rooney.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 28, no. 4, 2013. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.2a1a7bc109.