Peter Carey, Jack Maggs, and
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
IN 1989, THREE AUSTRALIAN SCHOLARS published a “little green book” which has since become a much-debated classic in postcolonial criticism: its authors were Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, and their study was called: The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures.1 What distinguished it from other and earlier publications in the field were the authors' familiarity with the current theoretical debate and their confident tone, which differed markedly from the defensive attitude that often characterized earlier discussions of Englishlanguage literatures outside Great Britain and the USA. Above all, the study reopened a debate that had become stuck within the opposing methodologies of national or regional models on the one hand, and defenders of the unity of English literature on the other.2
Using the term 'postcolonial' “to cover all the culture affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day”3 – and, in fact, establishing the term in criticism – Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin drew attention to the linguistic, stylistic and thematic interrelations between postco-
1 London: Routledge. The study's catchy title takes up the title of an article by Sal-
man Rushdie which appeared in The Times of London (3 July 1980), and at the same
time ironically alludes to the second film in the Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes
2 See Dieter Riemenschneider's review of The Empire Writes Back, Research in
African Literatures 22.3 (1991): 204.
3 Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin, The Empire Writes Back, 2.