Indigenous Literature of Oceania

A Survey of Criticism and Interpretation

by Nicholas J. Goetzfridt


Contains bibliographic data and short summaries of texts that comment on fiction, poetry, and plays written by Pacific Islanders.

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February 1995


Pages 368
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/World Literature

Oceania has a rich and growing literary tradition. The imaginative literature that emerged in the 1960s often reflected the forms and structures of European literature, though the ideas expressed were typically anticolonial. After three decades, the literature of Oceania has become much more complex, in terms of style as well as content; and authors write in a multiplicity of styles and voices. While the written literature of Oceania is continuously gaining more critical attention, questions about the imposition of European literary standards and values as a further extension of colonialism in the Pacific have become a central issue.

This book is a detailed survey of the expanding amount of critical and interpretive material written about the imaginative literature of authors from Oceania. It focuses on commentary and scholarship concerned with the poetry, fiction, and drama written in English by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and Australia. The criticisms have appeared in academic books and journals since the mid-1960s. They have developed to the point at which critical issues, related to decolonization and the expression of ideas without having to first satisfy foreign expectations, often determine the direction of such discussions. Entries are grouped in topical chapters, and each entry includes an extensive annotation. An introductory essay summarizes the evolution of Pacific literature.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Vilsoni Hereniko
Oceania, General
Pacific Islands
Aotearoa-New Zealand
Title and Author Index
Critics Index
Subject Index



Complementing the author's earlier Indigenous Navigation and Voyaging in the Pacific this book extends coverage to international reactions to the literature written by Oceanic authors. The bibliography and the extensive indexes are valuable in themselves. For all libraries interested in this often neglected part of world literature.— Choice

...Goetzfridt's volume fills an important void....especially valuable for documenting scholarship that has appeared in journals...or released by publishers...often unknown or undistributed in the Northern Hemisphere....It is an indispensable research tool for any scholar who contemplates research into South Pacific literature, and is a must for any academic library with significant global multicultural holdings.— Multicultural Review

The brief foreword by Fijian playwright Vilsoni Hereniko is of great assistance inthat it both provides a lively and succinct account of the emergence and rapid development of Pacific literature, and outlines the ongoing argument over the kind of standards by which the new literature should br judged: whether by European standards or by indigenous standards.—ARBA


Choice Outstanding Academic Book, 1993

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