'In 'Preying on the Past: Contexts of Some Recent Neo-Historical Fiction'
, Peter Pierce argues that, over the last five or so decades, Australian historical fiction has turned away from 'unconstrained and idealistic affirmations about Australia's future' to empathise instead with those figures in the historical landscape who were previously marginalised: 'victims of imperialism, patriarchy, racism, capitalism' (p.307).
This trend is particularly applicable to historical literature for younger readers, which now often tries to renegotiate history by providing a counterpoint to the metanarratives of the past (Stephens 2003, xii-xiii
). Reflecting and responding to developments in the disciplines of historiography and, more generally, the humanities, texts in this genre are representative of the attempt to interrogate monolithic versions of Australian history - often called the 'three cheers' view - in which positivity, achievement and the peaceful settlement of the nation are key themes.
At issue in these novels is thus the redressing of past wrongs, particularly with respects to the violent aspects of colonisation when so many members of the Indigenous population either died or were forcibly displaced. Each of the three adolescent novels I focus upon in this paper - Melissa Lucashenko's Killing Darcy
(1998), Gary Crew's No Such Country
(1991) and Mark Svendsen's Poison Under Their Lips
(2001) - is equally idiosyncratic in its approach to narrativising Australia's problematic colonial past' (Author's abstract).