Grandchild of Empire: About Irony, Mainly in the Commonwealth

By Cook, Victoria | British Journal of Canadian Studies, May 2004 | Go to article overview

Grandchild of Empire: About Irony, Mainly in the Commonwealth


Cook, Victoria, British Journal of Canadian Studies


W.H. New, Grandchild of Empire: About Irony, Mainly in the Commonwealth (Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2003), 92pp. Paper. $9.95. ISBN 1-5538-0001- X.

W.H. New's Grandchild of Empire may be a slim volume, but it holds a wealth of insight into the politics of irony in modern writing that is far from 'common'. Drawing on personal anecdotes, memories and examples of cartoons, parodies, poems and prose from around the world, New focuses on the way in which different types of irony 'assert the freedom to speak, the need to listen, and the opportunity to be heard' in postcolonial literature. He celebrates the power of irony as a means of resistance to authority and explains something of how it relates to imperial history. New establishes, at the outset, his intention to talk 'about' irony in a 'non-linear' way - he goes on to do so by combining autobiographical detail with scholarly analysis, whilst placing his emphasis on hearing the voice of irony in context. He employs family metaphors to explore the position of irony with regard to margins and boundaries, in particular, identifying the capacity of irony to both challenge and affirm. …

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