This is an overview of responses to literary texts overtly associated with the colonial project or the construction of "race" (The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, Heart of Darkness and Othello), as well as to texts where the interaction between culture and imperialism is less obvious (Great Expectations, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights). The postcolonial con-texts are located within their social and cultural backgrounds, and the different forms their responses take to their pre-texts are explored. Thieme argues that "writing back" is seldom adversarial. Rather, it operates along a continuum between complicity and oppositionality. He also suggests that post-colonial appropriations of canonical pre-texts frequently generate re-readings of their "originals". The book concludes by considering the implications of this argument for discussions of identity politics and literary genealogies more generally.
John Thieme is Professor of English Studies at South Bank University.