Welcome to Transnational Literature, a freely accessible, fully refereed international
e-journal published twice a year by the Humanities Research Centre, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.
In the first issue, we offer an eclectic collection of material. We have articles on William Burroughs and Salman Rushdie, and an international symposium on a fundamental question of concern to us all, ‘Does Literature Exist?’. This symposium grew from an essay by Robert Lumsden, and includes contributions from six literary scholars from Australia, America and Asia. I hope that readers might be inspired to continue the conversation in future issues.
Also included are poems from an Australian living in the Middle East as well as two established Adelaide poets, and an autobiographical essay from an American of German origin. To round out the picture, we include seven book reviews on a variety of publications, including fiction, poetry and literary criticism from Australia, Africa and Thailand.
In his introduction to a collection of work entitled Man at Leisure by the author of Young Adam and Cain’s Book Alexander Trocchi, William Burroughs described its author as a ‘cosmonaut of inner space’. In so doing Burroughs turned Trocchi’s own description of the role of a writer on the author himself. Trocchi shared a number of lifestyle similarities with Burroughs. Both writers identified with the Beat movement, were published by Olympia Press, prosecuted for obscenity and addicted to heroin and (as their as yet unpublished extensive private correspondence indicates) were well acquainted with one another. Yet it is in the essential concern of their writing that a more meaningful similarity emerges: a naked engagement with authenticity and a desire to separate that which Nietzsche termed ‘the way of seeing from the origin of seeing’. Reading the work that is later to characterise Burroughs’ own style seen in Naked Lunch, the same description of the writer as a cosmonaut of inner space may just as aptly be applied to Burroughs himself.
The popularity of Salman Rushdie's novel 'Midnight’s
Children' (1981) rests on two things: the innovative use of English as a
language, and the fantastic representation of history. While Rushdie resorts to the use of ‘magic realism’ to oppose the Euro-centrism of master discourses, the innovativeness of Rushdie’s English is prompted by a desire to capture the spirit of Indian culture with all
its multiplicity and diversity. As a linguistic experimentalist, Rushdie attempts to destroy
‘the natural rhythms of the English language’ and to dislocate ‘the English and let other
things into it’. Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children best illustrates his strategy of ‘Indianising,
revitalising and decolonising the English language’. Here in this paper, I shall try to highlight the linguistic innovations of Salman Rushdie in his Midnight’s Children.