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Abstract

In her paper, "Adventure Tales, Colonialism, and Alexander Montgomery's Australian Perspective," Christine Doran discusses an early nineteenth-century example of Australian literature dealing with Southeast Asia. The text analysed is about Borneo, in a collection of short stories by Alexander Montgomery entitled Five-Skull Island and Other Tales of the Malay Archipelago, published in Melbourne in 1897. In the paper, Doran's focus is on Montgomery's adventure tales and she situates the texts within their literary and cultural contexts. Montgomery's writing is then analyzed in the light of postcolonial scholarship. Doran argues that in several important ways this author's work runs counter to the assertions made by some scholars of postcolonial studies concerning the nature of late nineteenth-century colonial fiction. In particular, Doran's analysis suggests that a close-text interpretation -- executed within a cultural context -- of Montgomery's text allows several commonly accepted generalizations concerning racism and masculinism within colonial literary discourse to be questioned. A minor Australian writer, of Irish descent and with marked working-class sympathies, Alexander Montgomery was able to adopt a perspective on colonial Southeast Asia from "down under." As Doran shows, Montgomery wrote from the point of view of those, whether of European or Asian ancestry, who struggled for survival in the colonized territories. Montgomery's texts thus present a challenging view of the colonial context from the margins of the British-European empire.

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