Re-reading and re-writing English literature
in Beginning postcolonialism (second edition)
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The reinterpretation of 'classic' English literary works has become an important area of postcolonialism and has impacted upon all kinds of literary debates, in particular the ongoing disputes about which texts can be considered as possessing 'literary value' and the criteria we use to measure it. This chapter introduces these issues by taking as points of orientation two interrelated themes: the re-reading of literary 'classics', such as Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, in the light of postcolonial scholarship and experience, and the re-writing of received literary texts by postcolonial writers. In the latter context, the chapter looks at two novels: Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea which engages with Brontë's text. STOP and THINK sections in the chapter pose a series of questions about the concepts discussed in the chapter to assist the reader in making judgements about the ideas raised within postcolonialism.


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