Jack Maggs: Carey’s Homage and Reclamation of Australian Ancestral Identity
Keywords:Jack Maggs, Predecessors, Other, Australian identity, Great Expectations, postcolonial
This study is an attempt to portray Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs as an allegory to examine the complicated feelings Australians possess regarding their nation’s origins. In the novel Carey want to possess, to own and to advocate his ancestor, who was presented as the necessary ‘Other’ in his British predecessor’s Victorian classic Great Expectations. Carey reinvents the liminal convict from the Other into a legitimate and rightful part of Australia's history without diminishing his darkness and attempts to reclaim the Australian convict from within England's History through Jack Maggs' narrative of histories. Carey blends the genres of historical novel, fictional biography and metafiction with an intensively marked intertextuality, borrowing characters and plot elements from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. The current study examines the question whether Carey’s account transforms his predecessor’s story from an imperial into an Aussie story? The researchers analysed the novel through postcolonial lenses and conclude that Australian identities should not be restricted by the inheritance of English outlook of the convict and guilty offender. Instead, it is time to position Australia’s English inheritance into Australian histories.
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