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 Nettie 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.
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