The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources

By Robin W. Winks | Go to book overview

COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE:
DEVELOPMENTS AND
PROSPECTS

Joseph Jones

INTERPRETATIONS OF British Commonwealth literature derive much of their significance from one of the prime facts of modern history: British migration, over a period of nearly four centuries, into virtually all parts of the globe. This, for wide-ranging motives, has taken place from the time of the Armada to the time of the Blitz and, on a less spectacular scale, still continues. Extensive and protracted migration works changes slowly but inevitably in the character of migrants; and as their interests and modes of expression are modified, new literatures slowly evolve, conditioned by the eras in which the migrations took place, the ease or difficulty of settlement, the attention or lack of attention by the mother country, and much else. Thus over varying periods of time--in some instances more than a century, in others less than half--there have been emerging several streams of literature in English, separate from that of the United Kingdom or the United States, streams which only in our generation are beginning to receive general attention. Much of this literature is still unknown even to literary experts, other than those in close touch with localized publication. Within the past decade, however, a number of Commonwealth authors have come into world prominence; and it would appear that Commonwealth literature, conceived on quite a broad scale, is a threshold subject of increasing concern.

Why, one may ask, should the study of Commonwealth literature be of special importance just now? First of all, of course, because it is becoming so rapidly apparent as a new field. But there is likewise the growing importance of the Commonwealth itself in world affairs, a trend dictated by the crises developing over the thirty years since the

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The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contributors ix
  • Introduction 3
  • The American Continental Colonies in the Empire 23
  • The Empire Since 1783 46
  • Canada 69
  • Australia 137
  • New Zealand 174
  • The British Territories in the Pacific 197
  • South Africa 212
  • British Central Africa 237
  • British East Africa 248
  • British West Africa 261
  • Egypt and the Sudan 279
  • Great Britain and Inter­national Trusteeship: the Mandate System 296
  • Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus 312
  • Ireland's Commonwealth Years, 1922-1949 326
  • The British West Indies 344
  • India 357
  • Pakistan 396
  • Ceylon 421
  • Burma 448
  • Malaysia 460
  • Commonwealth Literature: Developments and Prospects 493
  • Appendix: An American Report 523
  • Index 529
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