The Non-Literate Other. Readings of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century
Novels in English
506 pp, 2007, $140 USD (Hardcover)
Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York
At the beginning of David Malouf’s novel, Remembering Babylon
(1993), two children from a family of colonial settlers happen to meet
a strange guy who tells them “Do not shoot. I am a b-b-British object”
(3). This is the impressive start of a narrative in which an adolescent
who escapes from England in mid-nineteenth century, arrives in
Australia, the land of “convicts,” and lives among the Aborigines for
sixteen years. After that period, his language sounds like a mixture of a
few aboriginal words and very poor English, and he represents a threat
to community life in the settler’s eyes. Malouf’s is a dazzling story
about racial hostility, newcomer fear and the impossibility of
acknowledging the “otherness” of Aboriginal culture, something that
certainly involves the problematic question of language.
Thus, it is not surprising to discover that the novel gave Helga
Ramsey-Kurz the inspiration for her illuminating and rich volume The
Non-Literate Other. Readings of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century
Novels in English.
Read the full book review in Postcolonial Text, Vol 4, No 2 (2008)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Review of The Non-Literate Other. Readings of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century Novels in English
Reviewed by Federica Zullo.