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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 27, 2015

Shakespeare Among the Nyoongar: Post-Colonial Texts, Colonial Intertexts and their Imbrications – Macbeth in Gail Jones’s Sorry

Russell West-Pavlov

Abstract

This article reads Gail Jones’s 2007 novel Sorry as a novel of White usurpation of Indigenous country and culture. Sorry mobilizes a number of intertexts, primary among them Shakespeare. In particular Macbeth features prominently as a template for Sorry’s drama of usurpation. My analysis focuses on two extensive quotations from Macbeth, recited by one of the novel’s White protagonists as she surveys the scene of her husband’s murder, ostensibly at the hands of an Indigenous servant, one of the ‘Stolen Generations.’ This recitation, however, proves itself to be an act of usurpation, as it is Perdita, the White child protagonist of the novel, who has stabbed her father during one of his repeated rapes of the Indigenous girl. Perdita, in turn, recovers her memory of the act via the recitation of the same passages from Macbeth, thus allowing Shakespeare to emerge in the White post-colonial text as a self-critical element of White usurping culture but also, possibly, as a collaborator in a coalition against the ongoing oppression of the Indigenous population which characterizes contemporary Australia.


Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. Dr. Russell West-Pavlov, English Department, University of Tübingen, Wilhelmstr. 50, 72074 Tübingen, Germany; and English Department, University of Pretoria, Hatfield 0028, South Africa, e-mail:

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Published Online: 2015-11-27
Published in Print: 2015-12-1

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