The Aborigine in Nineteenth-Century Australian Literature Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Ross Gibson (essay date 1984)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gibson, Ross. “Savages and Slaves: Images of Aborigines.” In The Diminishing Paradise: Changing Literary Perceptions of Australia, pp. 140-94. London: Sirius Books, 1984.

[In the following excerpt, Gibson documents European perceptions of Aborigines during the period 1770 to 1850, noting the prevailing double image of the Aborigine as either a degenerate barbarian or a noble savage.]

Why, a literature might be made out of the aboriginal all by himself … In his history, as preserved by the white man's official records, he is everything—everything that a human creature can be. He covers the entire ground. He is a coward—there are a...

(The entire section is 11379 words.)

Bain Attwood (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Attwood, Bain. Introduction to Power, Knowledge and Aborigines, edited by Bain Attwood and John Arnold, pp. i-xvi. Bundoora, Victoria: La Trobe University Press, 1992.

[In the following excerpt, Attwood considers the theoretical issues surrounding white European interpretation of the Aborigine.]

This [essay] is concerned with European Australians and our ways of knowing ‘the Aborigines’. In particular it considers both Aboriginalism1 as a mode of discourse which, like Edward Said's ‘Orientalism’,2 produces authoritative and essentialist ‘truths’ about indigenes, and which is characterised by a mutually supporting relationship...

(The entire section is 8143 words.)