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Our Own Identity: Albert Wendt, James Joyce and the Indigenisation of Influence

Hayward, Matthew C. (2019) Our Own Identity: Albert Wendt, James Joyce and the Indigenisation of Influence. In: New Oceania: Modernisms and Modernities in the Pacific. Routledge, New York, TBC. ISBN 9780367250157

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This chapter proceeds with two aims. Firstly, it tracks correspondences between the early novels of Albert Wendt—Sons for the Return Home (1973), Pouliuli (1977) and Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979)—and a limited set of passages in the work of James Joyce. Developing narrative and structural techniques from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), and incidental motifs from the ‘Nestor’ episode of Ulysses (1922), Wendt mobilises Joyce in a number of key ways: in his portrayal of the Pacific artist coming into literary consciousness, in his challenge against the distortions of colonial history, and in his depiction of the rebellious young man confronting the mechanisms of colonial power. Demonstrating specific consistencies between the source material and patterns in Wendt’s methods of adaptation, the chapter claims a relationship between the two authors that has gone unnoticed in Wendt scholarship. Tracing these connections improves our understanding of both the textual dynamics of Wendt’s early novels, and the range of material that the author referred to in the creation of a modern Samoan literature. Secondly, however, the chapter reflects upon what is at stake in making these connections at all. Emphasising Wendt’s connections with European antecedents risks deemphasising his connections with Samoan and other Pacific texts and traditions, and while Wendt insists that the two are not mutually exclusive, he also insists that they are not equal, given the long history of outside agencies claiming Pacific space and material for a falsely neutral global modernity. Finding defence against critical appropriation in Wendt’s idea of indigenisation, the chapter ends by considering ways in which Wendt converts outside influences into self-determining drivers of cultural growth and adaptation, adding to the ‘inheritance’ of his literary ‘descendants’.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Language, Arts and Media
Depositing User: Matthew Hayward
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2019 23:04
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2021 02:39

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