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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 12: The Novel in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the South Pacific Since 1950$
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Coral Ann Howells, Paul Sharrad, and Gerry Turcotte

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199679775

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199679775.001.0001

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South Pacific

South Pacific

(p.128) 8 South Pacific
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Paul Sharrad

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the history of the South Pacific novel as a post-1950s phenomenon. Many Pacific writings from the early phase of literary production came in the form of ‘auto-ethnographic’ accounts of village life or the transcription of oral stories in which the separation of the writer is indicated often implicitly in the external viewpoint of the narrative and its use of formal English to depict a clearly non-Anglo world. To become a writer, one had to enter school, where he/she had to be acquainted not only with maths tables and alphabets but also new patterns of behaviour fitted to the subject position of ‘student’, disruptive of a traditional sense of communal identity. The chapter examines how literacy, with its ties to Western education, allowed Pacific Islanders to correct false representations of themselves in colonial adventure stories. It also shows that South Pacific fiction is imbued from the start with the vision of flux and fragmentation that is modernity, while contemporary shifts in Pacific identities due to the pan-Pacific diaspora and transnational networks have encouraged novelistic innovation in the increasingly pervasive print culture of a globalized Pacific.

Keywords:   modernity, South Pacific novel, village life, oral stories, literacy, Pan-Pacific diaspora, South Pacific fiction, South Pacific

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