'Crossing borders, breaking boundaries, going beyond the limits, entering new territories - today these take many forms and are major preoccupations of our world. Whether the borders are real or imagined, historical or contemporary, physical or psychological, they continue to fascinate us. The twenty-two chapters in this book explore the phenomenon of border crossing in some of its manifold forms. The chapters range across a wide spectrum of border crossings from the ages of chivalry, Dante, Shakespeare and Darwin, through to the era of comics, world music, transcultural writing, mash-up novels, and digital libraries. Studies of life writing, the performing arts, language, history, migration and literature all contribute to the exploration of the central theme and open up for readers some of the many ways in which border crossings inform and revitalise our lives.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
Contents indexed selectively.
This introduction summarises all the chapters in this anthology.
Thus opens Gerald Murnane's novel The Plains. It begins with a border crossing of sorts. The narrator, who remains nameless throughout the novel, recounts the process of crossing from Australia into the plains. The reader obligingly follows. Yet, the narrator cannot be sure of exactly when and where, let alone if he crossed from Australia into the plains. The border is imperceptible. This imperceptibility is not merely a problem of borders, or even a problem of place. As Gillet notes, it is a problem of 'language' and 'knowledge' - a problem, perhaps, of interpretation. What I am alluding to here is acknowledged and even perpetuated by the narrator himself. In these opening few lines the narrator refers to interpretation twice, both times in reference to the land around him. The plains, he states, seem to be the source of hidden meanings. The person approaching the plains is willed to search for such meanings. Furthermore, the search for hidden meanings, the act of interpretation, is a private one. The plains, the narrator comments, 'seemed more and more a place that only I could interpret.' (Introduction)
'To understand their characters' border crossings - historical, transnational, personal, physical and generic - Australian writers, Anna Funder and David Sornig researched their Berlin settings in situ, in literature and through writing praxis. Berlin crossings can be mapped from East to West and ideologically from left to right, through traumatic national history, biographies and authorial backstories.' (Introduction)
'In this chapter I describe the literary, personal and border-crossing journey that was my Masters thesis. Essentially, this journey was experimental. By writing a number of memory-inspired yet stand-alone microfictions and crafting them into a linked short-story cycle, I was seeking to determine whether such a construct could, in aggregate, represent a life autobiographically. This was my primary goal.' (Introduction)
'Why focus on transcultural novels? Because, historically, the novel represents one of the earliest examples of a global cultural literary product related to the modern age. In its planetary travels, it has become a literary mutant in the transnational arena of world literature or, as Eileen Julien would say, it has become a creole form, 'a global forma franca, the privileged and prestigious form beyond the nation's border...' (Introduction)
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