The boundaries of the audience

McLaren, John (1990) The boundaries of the audience. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)


In this lecture John McLaren examines the position of migrant writers emphasizing that for writers in a migrant society the search for public is crucial. Those who have been driven into exile have left their public behind. Those who are born into a new society are cut off from both the indigenous and the foreign communities which generated the language and traditions they share with their audience. The act of writing in a new land transgresses the boundaries of the old tradition and so defines its audience as a new community. Discussed is the novel of Joseph Skvorecky’s The Engineers of Human Souls, which is about the attempt of its narrator, Daniel Smiricki, an émigré Czech novelist, to find an audience in a new land to replace the one taken from him by Hitler and Stalin. To illustrate similar writing predicaments, discussed is the work of other writers, including that of a New Zealand poet, James Baxter, who felt alienated from both the land, and his European roots, causing him to suddenly leave his home and family and write in Jerusalem, a small Maori settlement and Catholic mission in the North Island (New Zealand) where he extends his sense of community to include the Maoris, who enter his poetry both as characters and through their language.

Item type Other
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Current > Collections > McLaren Papers
Keywords Literature, migrant writers, émigrés, alienation, writing, poetry, novelists, MCLAREN-BOXD7-DOC6
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