The Revisionist Representation
of Australian Colonial History
in Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda 1
“The land is stolen. The whole country is stolen. The whole
nation is based on a lie which is that it was not already occupied
when the British came here. If it is anybody's place it is the
blacks.' Does it look like your place? Does it feel like your place?
Can't you see, even the trees have nothing to do with you.”2
CROSSING BOUNDARIES between fact and fiction, history and myth, historiography and historical fiction, and individual stories and collective history has become one of the hallmarks of postmodernist historical novels. The themes and forms of such works express revisionist notions of history, focusing on the perception of history in the minds of average people rather than on key historical events as well as undermining the
1 This is a revised translation of an article that was published in Literatur in
Wissenschaft und Unterricht 27.3 (1994): 171–87. More recent significant scholarship
has been reviewed in the course of revision. I should like to extend my warmest thanks
to my assistants Rose Lawson and Dorothee Birke for their invaluable help.
2 Peter Carey, Illywhacker (London: Faber & Faber, 1985): 307. Further page refer-
ences are in the main text.