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Issue Details: First known date: 2008... 2008 'Dancing the Old Enlightenment' : Gould's Book of Fish, the Historical Novel and the Postmodern Sublime
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The strategy that I wish to explore in this analysis of Gould's Book of Fish is the postmodern experimental narrativisation of the colonial past applied to a political critique of the national present. More specifically, through interpreting the novel through Lyotard's discussion of the postmodern sublime and a theory of bodily experience, it is possible to argue that Flanagan employs a postmodern aesthetic as a type of immanent critique in which the postmodern dialectic can be read as an extension of Enlightenment thinking. In the novel the past is shifting and, at least in a positivistic sense, ultimately irretrievable. This signals the notion of history as the postmodern sublime - a space of irretrievable loss and unfulfilled desire at the edges of the margins of history. While history and the colonial past shift and change in the novel, the representations of bodily experience anchor Flanagan's novel in the recognition that real lives, often individual and collective suffering, often motivate postmodern critiques.' (Author's abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon JASAL Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature; The Colonial Present : Australian Writing for the 21st Century Special Issue Gillian Whitlock (editor), Victoria Kuttainen (editor), 2008 Z1499541 2008 periodical issue 2008 pg. 114-129
    Note: Includes end notes and list of works cited.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Falling Backwards : Australian Historical Fiction and The History Wars Jo Jones , Crawley : UWA Publishing , 2018 14523219 2018 multi chapter work criticism

    'Some stories are hard to tell. During a period known as the Australian History Wars, consideration of the national past was vexed, contested territory. There was marked vitriol – to an unprecedented extent – in public debate about the “reality” and interpretation of the events of colonisation. This study investigates the output of novelists who were brave enough to contribute to this vital cultural moment and the issues of politics and form they attempted to negotiate.

    'This book deals with the publically-waged debate over the suitability of novelists to render authoritative versions of significant events or periods as its starting point. From there, however, it delves deeper into the politics of form, analysing the connection between the realist modes of traditional, empiricist histories and the various explorations of the colonial past that have been figured through different historical novels. The forms of these novels range from classic realism to frontier Gothic, various Romanticisms, magical realism, and reflexive post-modernism.

    'The relative formal freedoms offered through historical novels, when compared to conventional history writing offer the chance to confront the past in all of its contradiction and complexity. The terrain of the postmodern and historical sublime — of loss and uncertainly — is one in which historical fiction can perform an important political and ethical role. The immeasurably vast space which lies beyond history, that space of those who are often unrepresented, often victims, often silent, is an abyss into which fiction, particularly historical fiction, is able imaginatively and ethically to descend.'  (Publication summary)

    Crawley : UWA Publishing , 2018
    pg. 50-79
Last amended 8 Jan 2015 15:54:37
114-129 http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-63067-20090910-1633-www.nla.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/jasal/article/view/678/984.html 'Dancing the Old Enlightenment' : Gould's Book of Fish, the Historical Novel and the Postmodern Sublimesmall AustLit logo JASAL
50-79 'Dancing the Old Enlightenment' : Gould's Book of Fish, the Historical Novel and the Postmodern Sublimesmall AustLit logo
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