Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, Vol 11, No 2 (2011)

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‘Shapely Experience’ and the Limits of ‘Late Colonial Transcendentalism’: The Portrait of the Artist as Soldier in Roger McDonald’s 1915

Christopher Lee


This essay argues that Roger McDonald’s debut novel 1915 represents a form of literary modernism which rejects the easy aesthetic comforts of ‘late colonial transcendentalism’ (17). McDonald presents an intricate -- we might even say ritualised -- pattern of subversive counterpoint to ‘reveal and dramatise the failure of the subject to escape its own limits, and hence its own history’ (McCann 155). The result is a highly self-conscious literary novel that seeks to reconcile the art of high modernism with a postcolonial practice interested in the consequences of public memory.

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