Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 12 (Literature Unit 3). Also suitable for Year 10 English and Year 11 Literature.
Aboriginality, Australian country life, love, prejudice, reconciliation, relationships
Intercultural understanding, Literacy
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
'In the Cold War-era "three worlds" model, the Second World was the socialist world, particularly the Soviet Bloc, that stood opposed to the capitalist West but—unlike the postcolonial Third World—was largely white. However, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, postcolonial critics briefly redeployed the term Second World to denote peripheral settler colonies like Australia. This essay examines the juxtaposition of these two uses of the term "Second World" through a discussion of Katharine Susannah Prichard's 1929 novel Coonardoo and the history of its misrepresentation of Australian Indigenous people. Though Prichard sought to be sympathetic to the Indigenous woman at the center of the novel's plot, Coonardoo, the teleological perspective of her authorial attitude towards the land precludes this sympathy. This essay examines how Prichard's teleological view is connected to socialist-realist attitudes and settler collectives; how Prichard's novel both continues and inflects settler ideology now in the neoliberal era; and how teleological settler histories of the land can no longer presume the continued solidity of the land in the wake of the Anthropocene.' (Publication abstract)
The previous chapter revealed how, in the early 1930s, Norton's publication of Henry Handel Richardson s Ultima Thule and the Fortunes of Richard Mahony trilogy brought Australia and its literature "deep into the consciousness of reading America' The impact of Richardson's novels was strengthened by the appearance of Katharine Susannah Prichard's Coonardoo in 1930 from the same publisher. Richardson's and Prichard's novels were in fact part of a longer sequence of ambitious Australian works published in the United States from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s. In contrast to the decline in the number of Australian novels published in America across the first three decades of the twentieth century, at the very end of the 1920s we begin to see a cluster of substantial novels appearing together - and being brought together by reviewers. Fiction publishing in general in the United States grew rapidly from a low point in 1919 to a peak in 1929; the number of titles dipped slightly through the Depression years but high levels continued until the early forties. Against this background, the pattern of publication and increased receptivity for Australian novels was sustained until the mid-forties, but with little continuity into the postwar years when many writers had, in effect, to begin again in establishing the viability of Australian work in the American marketplace. There is, then, a relatively discrete historical trajectory across the two decades from the late twenties, emerging from almost nothing and collapsing in the later forties as both cultural and industrial circumstances change.' (Introduction)
'From the late 1920s to the early 1940s, American reviewers were often compelled to remark on the increasing presence of Australian books and authors in the American marketplace. The publication in short succession of Henry Handel Richardson's The Fortunes of Richard Mahony trilogy (1929-30) and Katharine Susannah Prichard's Working Bullocks (1927) and Coonardoo (1930) appeared to announce Australia's literary coming of age: "Australia at last seems to have become articulate, when in so short a space of time it can produce such books as Henry Handel Richardson's Ultima Thule, Miss Prichard's own Working Bullocks and this fine story of white codes and primitive codes mixed and never fusing [Coonardoo]"; "Australia is taking her place as an important contributor to English letters ... It is no longer possible to ignore that country's claim to a definite attention") By comparison to the authors discussed in the previous chapter, Richardson and Prichard together could draw attention, not just to individual hooks by Australian authors, but to works of literature about Australia and hence to the idea of Australian literature itself. As one US reviewer put it, Ultima Thule had "brought the Australian country into the deep consciousness of reading America" and Coonardoo promised to do the same. Another concluded that "those who maintain that no literature comes out of Australia are beginning to revise their opinions as each new book is announced by Henry Handel Richardson, Katherine Susannah Pritchard [sic] and Dorothy Cottrel [sic]".' (Introduction)