The recovery of Europe in post-colonial fiction

McLaren, John (1995) The recovery of Europe in post-colonial fiction. [Teaching Resource] (Unpublished)


This lecture discusses the process of developing and transformation of English literary language from the period of English renaissance. This linguistic development is influenced by many historical events, some of them even biological, like the outset of the Black Death in Europe. Chaucer’s use of the vernacular for example was a part of the process which led to the disintegration of the medieval order and its replacement by the competition of national states for world-wide empires. With European colonisation, the linguistic changes occurred not only in the heartland of Europe itself, but in the regions where Europeans and European culture were in direct conflict with new environments and old cultures. The problems of writing in English are obvious in a country like India for example, where English is a minority language used mainly by rulers. The Indian literatures in the local languages are invaluable for recovering the continuity which was overlaid and hidden by imperial rule, but Indian writing in English presents the dilemmas arising from the interaction of the two cultures precisely because it uses the language of the conqueror to express the consciousness of those still seeking to escape its control.

Additional Information

Lecture written by John for his VU Lit course in 1995

Item type Teaching Resource
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2004 Linguistics
Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Current > Collections > McLaren Papers
Keywords Linguistic legacy, English renaissance, literary languages, national literatures, vernacular, history, postcolonial literature, MCLAREN-BOXB7-DOC7
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