The Aborigine in Nineteenth-Century Australian Literature Criticism: Aboriginal Myth, Literature, And Oral Tradition - Essay

Catherine Berndt and Ronald Berndt (essay date 1982)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Berndt, Catherine and Ronald Berndt. “Aboriginal Australia: Literature in an Oral Tradition.” In Review of National Literatures: Australia, edited by L. A. C. Dobrez, pp. 39-63. New York: Griffin House Publications, 1982.

[In the following essay, Berndt and Berndt identify and analyze a number of myth-narratives and songs from the Aboriginal oral tradition.]

For the great majority of Australians, the most authentically Australian literature is virtually a closed book. One reason is that it is an oral literature. To some people this expression is still a contradiction in terms. However, since the Chadwicks' work on Oral Literature justified and...

(The entire section is 7935 words.)

Kenneth Maddock (essay date 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Maddock, Kenneth. “Myth, History and a Sense of Oneself.” In Past and Present: The Construction of Aboriginality, edited by Jeremy R. Beckett, pp. 11-30. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1988.

[In the following essay, Maddock relates and interprets several mythic stories concerning Aboriginal contact with the outside world, including tales of meetings with Captain Cook and the Macassans.]

This [essay] concerns Aboriginal myths of early or initial contact between Aborigines and outsiders.1 I have included all the stories I could find on the subject, with a view to seeing whether they convey a message about an Aboriginal sense of identity formed...

(The entire section is 8158 words.)

Chris Healy (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Healy, Chris. “‘We Know Your Mob Now’: Histories and Their Cultures.” Meanjin 49, no. 3 (spring 1990): 512-23.

[In the following essay, Healy evaluates the merits of an Aboriginal understanding of history as opposed to the standard, western conception of the past.]

Which of our traditions we want to carry on and which we do not is decided in the public process of transmitting a culture. The less we are able to rely on a triumphal national history, on the seamless normality of what has come to prevail, and the more clearly we are conscious of the ambivalence of every tradition, the more intense are the disputes about this process of cultural...

(The entire section is 5200 words.)

Penny van Toorn (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Van Toorn, Penny. “Early Aboriginal Writing and the Discipline of Literary Studies.” Meanjin 55, no. 4 (1996): 754-65.

[In the following essay, van Toorn describes the difficulties associated with the study of pre-twentieth-century Aboriginal writing.]

The history of Aboriginal writing might have any number of beginnings depending on the way we constitute it as an object of knowledge. In the discipline of literary studies, Aboriginal writing is usually considered to be a recent phenomenon. It is thought to have begun tentatively with David Unaipon's Native Legends (1929) and then to have lapsed for thirty-five years before being inaugurated in its...

(The entire section is 4268 words.)