'Peter Carey is one of the most richly awarded and critically acclaimed novelists of the present day. Most of his fictions relate to questions of Australian history and identity. Rewriting History argues that taken together Carey's novels make up a fictional biography of Australia. The reading proposed here considers both key events in the life of the subject of Carey's biography (such as the exploration of the interior of the continent, the dispossession of the Aborigines, the convict experience, the process of Australia's coming of age as a postcolonial country) as well as its identity.
Rewriting History demonstrates how Carey exposes the lies and deceptions that make up the traditional representations of Australian history and supplants them with a new national story - one that because of its fictional status is not bound to the rigidities of traditional historical discourse. At a time of momentous cultural change, when Australia is being transformed from a "New Britannia in another world" to a nation not merely in, but actually of the Asia-Pacific region, Carey's fiction, this book argues, calls for the construction of a postcolonial national identity that acknowledges the wrongs of the past and gives Australians a sense of cultural orientation between their British past and their multicultural present. Source: www.rodopi.nl/ (Sighted 27/07/2010).
'What Peter Carey once said in an interview with regard to his method in Oscar and Lucinda holds true for all of the author's novels under scrutiny in this study. From Bliss to My Life as a Fake - the reader finds in Carey's writings a version of the Australian experience that is decidedly different from the reconstrustionist account that traditional history books used to offer. Carey's fictional biography of his country bears two diametrically opposed signature traits. It conforms with Mark Twain's oft-quoted assessment of the Australian experience, used by Carey as an epigraph to Illywhacker: 'Australian history is almost always picturesque...It does not read like history, but like the most beautiful lies.' At the same time, there is a distinct feeling of authenticity, of dealing with empirically analysable data, evidence from the past that is presented to the reader through a seemingly objective narrating agency.' (p. 17)
'It is one of the most characteristic traits of those of Peter Carey's fictions that are set in a postcolonial context that Australia remains essentially colonial. It is as if the British, by burrowing under and tunnelling out (as featured in Illywhacker), had, metaphorically speaking, destabilized the country and this made it vulnerable to future generations of colonizers. While the British continue to be a force to reckon with in Carey's fictional version of postcolonial Australia, the United States have notably taken over political and cultural stewardship over the country. The detrimental effects the American influence has on the consciousness of the characters in Carey's novels suggest that this new form of cultural and political patronage is not dissimilar to that of the British in former times. In fact, nothing much seems to have changed when the job of protector in chief was reallocated from the British to the Americans in the middle of the twentieth century. Australians in Peter Carey's postcolonial Australia continue to be inhibited by an acute sense of cultural backwardness and political and military dependence.' (p. 194)