On the language of settlers (on the need of recalibrating and indigenising): Sten Pultz Moslund, ‘The Settler’s Language and Emplacement in Patrick White’s Voss (1957)’, in Sten Pultz Moslund, Literature’s Sensuous Geographies, Springer, 2015, pp. 153-177


Abstract: Moving on to Patrick White’s Australian novel Voss (1957), the viewpoint shifts from that of imperial conquest in Dusklands and Heart of Darkness to the complexity of place relations in the new settler nation (which we have partially touched on in Blixen’s quasisettler novel). The literature of colonial settlement is unique for the study of the relation between place and language for several interconnected reasons. On the one hand, literature of the settler experience both partakes in colonization by teaching the landscape to speak, to use Carter’s fitting expression (Carter, 1987, 58–59; see also introduction). On the other hand, the language of this literature probes deep into the existential relations between humans, language, and place (whenever it dissents from the colonial utilization of language in possessing the land, whether explicitly or implicitly so). In the 1800s, the relation between settlers and the English language was of course one of unquestioned familiarity, but the relation between the settlers’ language and the land they were settling was new and fraught with difference. It is this state of unfamiliarity, or crisis between language and land, which causes the existential significance of place to break out from the state of silence it occupies in habitual places where place-body-language routinely conjoin seamlessly through the implicitly “shared organization of the sensible” (Rancière), (as we shall see in Chapter 10, the state of crisis goes for the literature of the Caribbean as well.

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