Ideology / representation / text: the imagery of communism in Australian and English-Canadian literature
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:16 by Marvin Gilman
This thesis is an exploration into the space of communist imagery as an integral component in the literatures of Australia and Canada from 1920-1990. The pervasiveness of Soviet socialist realism in the literatures of Australia and Canada has been an overlooked and unexplored area of critical analysis. As a formulation induced by the domination of Stalinists within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, it sought to reaffirm the inauguration of a ‘New World’ based on the success of the October Revolution and the Civil War. It played a crucial role in the careers of writers affiliated to the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) or Canada (CPC), who were determined to introduce working-class issues and communist representation into their dramaturgy and fictionality. They incorporated the tropes of the communist, the Communist Party/union organiser, the peace activist, the scientific socialist and the martyr to the cause as the means through which they could communicate their political positions. The metonymies of communism permeated the descriptors of poets aligned to the CPA or CPC. This thesis demonstrates how these tropes and metonymies were inscribed in the textual practice of celebrated Australian and Canadian writers, in particular, Dorothy Hewett, Judah Waten, David Fennario and Dyson Carter. Their emulation of Soviet socialist realism and their adherence to its precepts of partinost, ideynost and narodnost generated their own unique hybrid, the subgenre of ‘New World’ social[ist] realism. There were three phases to communist writing, firstly, the Depression era dominated by the strike scenario and internal political conflict. The second phase of the post-World War II years found its vision in the ‘New World’ paradigm, which denied its colonial context and sought to replace it with the concept of a Future Soviet Australia or Canada. Nostalgia for ultraradicalism in the 1930s emerged as the overriding perception in the late phase of the 1980s. This thesis asserts that the ‘New World’ writing of Australia and Canada was disabled by the political conditions of its production, without the supports available to the Soviet model to advance it strategically.