Welcome to the November issue of Transnational Literature, the biggest issue yet, with 50 contributors from more than a dozen countries. In this issue we have two articles on the subject of leisure and tourism. Jodie George examines the use of poetry in tourism advertising, and Russell McDougall and Julian Croft, in a hybrid piece encompassing theory, history, memoir and creative writing, reflect on the lost tradition among the New South Wales coal mining community of camping holidays around Lake Macquarie. In contrast, Vivek Dwivedi looks at literary critical tradition of India through the work of four of its foremost theorists.
November also brings a bumper crop of creative writing, with poems in all registers from the starkly dramatic to the playful, on themes of exile, linguistic dislocation, personal loss, fading traditions and violent political change, as well as more lyrical subjects of motherhood, gratitude to a beloved teacher, and connection with the earth. Creative writing in prose also covers a broad range of styles and genres, from Paul Ardoin's dazzling ficto-criticism to the devastating simplicity of Mary Byrne's 'Window on the World'. We learn of Cameroon village customs in Kenneth Usongo's 'The Passing of Aseli';, and the difficulties of cross-cultural contact in Burma in Abbas Zaidi's 'The Tamil Hero and His Tribe'. Rowena Lennox is reminded of her schooldays by the visit of an Irish novelist in 'Coming Full Circle', while Ron Klein relates the anxiety of road travel in India in 'Definitely';. Michelle Cahill and Christine Williams give us different approaches to the nexus between Indian and Australian societies. Mohammad Quayum provides a new translation of a story by the great Rabindranath Tagore, and Frank Russo takes us back to the heady days of the Dunstan era and Adelaide's dramatic earthquake scare.
Our May issue was reviewed in Australian Book Review (September 2010) by Patrick Allington, who noted that while we split our book reviews into 'Creative and Life Writing' and 'History, Theory and Criticism', some of the essays we publish in that issue 'transcend the distinction such headings imply'. This is true of this issue as well: the McDougall and Croft essay crosses the academic-cultural divide, and several of the stories contain elements of criticism and theory. But when there are 35 book reviews in one issue, some organising principle is needed, so we have retained the split for the sake of convenience. Reviews cover novels, poems, biographies, guidebooks and collections of interviews, as well as works of theory, criticism, philosophy and literary history. I'm confident that readers will find that, once again, in Allington's words, 'the writing and research' of the fifty contributors to TNL's November 2010 issue 'displays purpose, depth and an admirable commitment to scholarly accessibility'.
As Stephen Page and Joanne Connell note in their mapping of the field, leisure studies is a largely post-war development, evolving internationally out of geography, economics, sociology and a range of other disciplines mostly in the social sciences rather than the humanities. Historians have not ignored the subject – there are plenty of historical studies of sports and recreation, the development of national parks, and so on. Yet, while leisure clearly has a vital and dynamic relation to work – culturally, politically, psychologically – labour historians in Australia appear to have been less interested in this area of research. We, the authors of this article, are primarily literary scholars rather than historians, but we have been puzzled by this apparent neglect. It is not our brief to examine the contemporary meanings of ‘leisure’ in relation to ‘work’ (or ‘forced labour,’ to adopt Guy Standing’s important twenty-first century distinction). Instead, our own study of coal miners’ holidays around Lake Macquarie from the late nineteenth and into the second half of the twentieth century considers the bygone rituals and activities of their holidaying from the vantage point of our own present location in an age where ‘simulation and nostalgia lie at the heart of everyday life.’
The article includes memoir and creative writing along with theory and analysis.
The Letter from the Editor for this issue of Transnational Literature describes this story as "ficto-criticism," a term not used much in my own country but a fun one that seems an apt description. What I would take particular care to emphasize here is the "ficto-" end of things: this story is not true, the narrator is not the author, and the real scholars and theorists mentioned here do not portend the coming of an apocalypse (at least not the scary kind). In fact, I very much enjoy and admire the work of all the figures mentioned in "The Lit Critters." My thanks to them.
This paper attempts to establish the identity of something that is often considered to be missing – a living Indian critical tradition. I refer to the tradition that arises out of the work of those Indians who write in English. The chief architects of this tradition are Sri Aurobindo, C.D. Narasimhaiah, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Homi K. Bhabha. It is possible to believe that Indian literary theories derive almost solely from ancient Sanskrit poetics. Or, alternatively, one can be concerned about the sad state of affairs regarding Indian literary theories or criticism in English. There have been scholars who have raised the question of the pathetic state of Indian scholarship in English and have even come up with some positive suggestions. But these scholars are those who are ignorant about the living Indian critical tradition. The significance of the Indian critical tradition lies in the fact that it provides the real focus to the Indian critical scene. Without an awareness of this tradition Indian literary scholarship (which is quite a different thing from Indian literary criticism and theory as it does not have the same impact as the latter two do) can easily fail to see who the real Indian literary critics and theorists are.