Jack Maggs (1997)
in Peter Carey
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Jack Maggs begins in the best traditions of Victorian melodrama. Like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Jack Maggs juxtaposes the hidden and the visible to reveal a terrible social violence beneath the surface of the imperial ideal. Jack Maggs is Peter Carey's Wide Sargasso Sea, an act of postcolonial retaliation against a parent culture. Like Jean Rhys's novel, it rewrites elements of a canonical text from the heart of the English literary tradition to reveal the hidden alternative history that cultural hegemony has effaced or suppressed. Carey 'willingly admits to having once or twice stretched history to suit his own fictional ends' in his Author's Note. One of Carey's starting points for the novel was postcolonial theorist Edward Said's views on Great Expectations in Culture and Imperialism, in which Said sees the transported convict Abel Magwitch as a metaphor for the relationship between England and its colonial offspring.

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