Allegory and animals in Olive Schreiner’s Undine : A Queer Little Child (1929)

Munslow Ong, J ORCID: 2017, 'Allegory and animals in Olive Schreiner’s Undine : A Queer Little Child (1929)' , Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 53 (4) , pp. 401-413.

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Written and abandoned in the 1870s, and published posthumously in 1929, Undine: A Queer Little Child has remained on the margins of Olive Schreiner (1855-1920) studies, repeatedly dismissed as a juvenile and poor antecedent to The Story of An African Farm (1883), or deemed valuable primarily for its autobiographical content. This article redresses these schematic readings by analysing how Schreiner draws on allegorical forms in order to explore aspects of her burgeoning radicalism. Focusing on one of the main allegorical thrusts of the novel, provided by the zoomorphic and anthropomorphic animal characters that descend from mythical, fairytale, and Ancient Greek philosophical origins, it investigates how the protagonist’s metaphorically significant associations with animals relate to freethinking, feminist, and anti-imperialist ideas introduced by the novel. Undine thus undermines dominant nineteenth-century models of the “primitive” human or animal as less evolutionarily developed and without political platform, which can be seen to be a liberating move when the novel is read in dialogue with Jacques Derrida’s lectures on animals, and with other recent work in postcolonial ecocriticism.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Postcolonial Writing
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1744-9855
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: JM Munslow Ong
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2016 08:32
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 21:07

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