Welcome to Volume 4, no. 2 of Transnational Literature.
My first experience with Transnational Journal of Literature as Deputy Editor has allowed me to reflect more deeply on the nature of the journal and the concept of transnational literature. In the depth and breadth of the contributions national boundaries, both geographical and cultural, are crossed. Literary boundaries, too, are crossed as the journal publishes articles, creative work, reflections and book reviews.
Among the articles we find male beauty in Patrick White’s Twyborn Affair discussed by Jean François Vernay – a timely consideration of White’s work on his centenary this month – while, by way of contrast, the perception of female prostitution is given a feminist view by Sophia I. Akhuemokhan and H. Oby Okococha. In examining the role of the female narrator Sayaka Oki also presents a feminist interpretation of the work of Ingeborg Bachmann and Jacques Derrida in Anonymity and Signature as a Productive Practice. Alzo David-West questions the interpretation of Han Sôrya’s Wolves, a North Korean story, as shallow propaganda while in Transcultural Writers and Transcultural Literature in the Age of Global Modernity Arianna Dagnino examines how transcultural writing and literature is seen as changing in a world where national boundaries are becoming less important. Adnan Mahmutovic revisits the work of Salmon Rushdie in Midnight’s Children: From Communalism to Community.
The sentiments expressed in the tributes to Professor Bruce Bennett are echoed in the poem by Md Rezaul Haque, In Memoriam Professor Md Enamul Hoque, and the obituary for Stephen Lawrence by Kate Deller-Evans and Debra Zott. Adrian Thurnwald’s Farewell to Associate Professor Richard Hosking strikes a lighter note, paying homage to his revered guru upon his retirement. In the creative writing section two themes emerge. While Year of the Horse by Kim Cheng Boey, Pearly Shells by Christine Williams and Holes in the Skein by Molly Murn highlight the slender threads within a family, Susan Daniels in The Secret and Dennis Wild in Nikolai present the darker side of human relationships. There are rich pickings in the poetry section, among them poems by Ian Gibbins and Nathanael O’Reilly which illustrate aspects of divided societies.
We have published a section on News and Views for the second time, as this proved to be popular last time. Again we ask contributors to consider reflections, reports of conferences or accounts of experiences that would be of interest and value.
The forty book reviews provide a diversity of themes, interests and opinions, and I’d draw your attention to the review essay by Joost Daalder who draws on a lifetime love and study of Shakespeare while reviewing two Australian books about the playwright.
Thanks are due once more to those who undertake peer reviewing, a necessary but time consuming task, one where they bring their expert knowledge and expertise to evaluate and guide contributors. Thanks also to Gay Lynch and Deb Zott for their work as editors of the creative writing sections. I’ll also take this opportunity to thank the editor, Gillian Dooley, who dedicates hours to the journal. They say that no one is indispensable, but I think that Gillian Dooley, as editor of this journal, is an exception to that rule.
Peer reviewed article. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, which first appeared in the 3rd century BC in Greek, quickly gained proverbial currency in the English language thanks to its wisdom. Admittedly, whenever beauty has been acknowledged, one should take it primarily as a comment on the beholder rather than on the model. In heterosexual relationships, male beauty would thus be informative of the female gaze and conception of aesthetics. But what of homosexual relationships? Logically, male beauty would inform as much on the aesthetics of the beholder as on the canons of male beauty through the representation of the perfect man. Now what if the male model appeals to both male and female beholders? Can gay men and straight women share the same aesthetics of the male body? Do they seek and value the same things in a partner? And then what if the male model switches to female beauty all the while sustaining an unflinching power of seduction? Would that prove that beauty is genderless or would that mean that desirability is unrelated to beauty? On a creative level, when White depicts an ambiguous protean protagonist, beauty essentially relies on his characterization skills. But is male beauty objectively inherent to the model or is it solely to be found in the novelist’s subjective representation of his central character?
Peer reviewed article. Ingeborg Bachmann is an Austrian author whose last novel Malina was published in 1971. She began working on Malina in 1966/67, and the novel forms part of the trilogy ‘Ways of death’. Malina is a complex novel. The story is set in Vienna and presents three protagonists: the first-person narrator who is an anonymous woman, her lover Ivan and her doppelganger and male-alter-ego Malina. Remarkably, the female narrator does not reveal her name until the end of the novel, whereas the male figures Ivan and Malina are referred to by their names throughout the story. Therefore, the question arises: why does the narrator remain anonymous?