The unstable earth : landscape and language in Patrick White's Voss, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life

Lee, Deva (2012) The unstable earth : landscape and language in Patrick White's Voss, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This thesis argues that Patrick White’s Voss, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life depict landscape in a manner that reveals the inadequacies of imperial epistemological discourses and the rationalist model of subjectivity which enables them. The study demonstrates that these novels all emphasise the instabilities inherent in imperial epistemology. White, Ondaatje and Malouf chart their protagonists’ inability to comprehend and document the landscapes they encounter, and the ways in which this failure calls into question their subjectivity and the epistemologies that underpin it. One of the principal contentions of the study, then, is that the novels under consideration deploy a postmodern aesthetic of the sublime to undermine colonial discourses. The first chapter of the thesis outlines the postcolonial and poststructural theory that informs the readings in the later chapters. Chapter Two analyses White’s representation of subjectivity, imperial discourse and the Outback in Voss. The third chapter examines Ondaatje’s depiction of the Sahara Desert in The English Patient, and focuses on his concern with the ways in which language and cartographic discourse influence the subject’s perception of the natural world. Chapter Four investigates the representation of landscape, language and subjectivity in Malouf’s An Imaginary Life. Finally, then, this study argues that literature’s unique ability to acknowledge alterity enables it to serve as an effective tool for critiquing colonial discourses.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Landscape, Literature, Novel, English, Patrick White, Michael Ondaatje, David Malouf, Imperial epistemology, Subjectivity, Rationalist model, Postmodern aesthetic, Sublime, Natural world, Language, Alterity
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English
Supervisors:Marais, Mike and Grogan, Bridget
ID Code:3822
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:25 Oct 2012 13:28
Last Modified:25 Oct 2012 13:28
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