Welcome to Volume 5, no. 1 of Transnational Literature.
As always, we offer a wide range of articles, creative writing and reviews, with papers on topics ranging from what might be regarded as mainstream postcolonial criticism, to reconsiderations of classic works of the late nineteenth century such as Dracula and R.L. Stevenson's The Ebb Tide. This issue also includes three translations, two from the Bangla of the early 20th century feminist writer Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, and one from the Kashmiri of short story writer, Akhtar Mohiuddin.
Our creative and life writing editor has gathered stories from
all over the world, and the poetry section includes a good crop
of Australian poets, some of them expatriates, as well as some
poets from overseas. Dozens of book reviews, of historical,
theoretical and critical works as well as creative and life
writing, complete the issue.
We have two exciting announcements to make. We have been approached by the editors of the well-regarded Australian journal New Literatures Review with a proposal to merge our two journals. The journal will continue to be known as Transnational Literature, and will be freely available online as before. It will be strengthened by the addition of expertise from the NLR editorial team at the University of Tasmania, and distinguished members of their Advisory Board will swell the ranks of our boards.
The other interesting development is that in August this year we signed a contract with ProQuest to be included in their Literature Online resource. They have confirmed that Transnational Literature will be included in their December upload. I believe this is a major boost for Transnational Literature, and I am very pleased that they approached us unsolicited to join them. This will add significantly to our profile, which is already impressive: a recent sample of downloads from the journal over a six-month period showed that just three of the issues have generated 26,462 downloads, which represents an average of more than 100 downloads per item.
The news is not universally positive, however. Deb Matthews-Zott, who has formally been our poetry editor since May 2011, and a valued advisor for much longer, has decided to step aside in order to focus on other projects. I would like to thank her for all her help, support and friendship over the years. She will remain on the Editorial Board.
Chinua Achebe's most recent novel, Anthills of the Savannah poses new challenges, which have to be responded to in new ways. Achebe in Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God exposed the narrowness of Western perceptions of African traditions. In No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People, Achebe underscores the limitations of traditional African values vis-a-vis the Western criteria of twentieth century modernity. But in Anthills of the Savannah, however, society has reached an ambivalent stage in which the issues identified in the previous eras have mutated into a crisis which encompasses the difficulties and tensions of those eras, in addition to the peculiar problems that are particular to it. As Nigeria's social, political and economic problems became pronounced, the nature of the protest within Nigerian literature became harsher and more explicit, a development that was facilitated by the increasing Marxist ideology among its second and third generations of its writers. Over time in the Nigerian literary corpus, protest has come to be seen as a useful yardstick for measuring the seriousness of the average Nigerian writer and assessing the depth of his commitment to progressive social, political and economic change. Writers who did not espouse radical ideologies were often unfairly dismissed as pro-establishment writers who did not wish to disrupt the status quo. But in Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah, protest is somewhat implicit, since it is often indirect in its criticism and usually a-specific. In other words, protest is inherent in the depiction of negative social situations rather than explicitly stated in the novel. This paper argues that Achebe's choice of oblique protest over overt protest in the novel ensures that protest is ubiquitous as the motif that defines the setting of the novel, and as a mode for assessing the relationship between art and social consciousness. The novel is interspersed with moral fables or parables, which sum up prevailing situations and contemporary attitudes in a very concise manner.
The article notes that what Paul Brantlinger has referred to as the Imperial Gothic insists that the encounter between cultures results not in a transcultural merger, but in an apocalyptic struggle for survival. As this struggle is often tied to past and present-day imperial sentiment, the article suggests that both late-Victorian and contemporary fiction can effectively be discussed with the help of Marie Louise Pratt's concept transculturation. Through a reading of three vampire narratives, Stokers's Dracula (1897), Del Toro and Hogan's The Strain (2009) and Kostova's The Historian (2005), the article demonstrates how past and present imperial gothic texts describe the derailment of European modernity and insists that cultural encounter produce monstrous hybrids that threaten an ontological and/or epistemological apocalypse. In this way, the cultural encounter that these gothic novels imagine result in catastrophic transculturation and the article argues that this is a common way of understanding the transnational meeting in American neo-imperial discourse.