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Poison, polygamy and postcolonial politics: The first Chinese Australian novel

Journal Article


Abstract


  • © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This article examines the first novel written by a Chinese diaspora writer in Australia, The Poison of Polygamy (¿¿¿), published in instalments in the Chinese-language newspaper Chinese Times (Melbourne) from 1909 to 1910. Set during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, the novel is nevertheless of its own time, reflecting the pressing concerns of a community in turmoil as the political upheavals of China in the final years of the Qing dynasty competed for attention with the disastrous effects of the White Australia policy. Taking the form of a picaresque and cautionary tale warning against traditional practices such as polygamy, opium smoking and foot-binding, the novel seeks to educate members of the lower classes of the Chinese community while embracing the republican cause against the Manchu rulers. The article argues that the progressive political agenda of the text (democratic, feminist) stands in sharp contrast to the view of the Chinese which prevailed in the white Australian community at the time.

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Huang, Z. & Ommundsen, W. "Poison, polygamy and postcolonial politics: The first Chinese Australian novel." Journal of Postcolonial Writing 52 .5 (2016): 533-544.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85003032911

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/2770

Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 533

End Page


  • 544

Volume


  • 52

Issue


  • 5

Abstract


  • © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This article examines the first novel written by a Chinese diaspora writer in Australia, The Poison of Polygamy (¿¿¿), published in instalments in the Chinese-language newspaper Chinese Times (Melbourne) from 1909 to 1910. Set during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, the novel is nevertheless of its own time, reflecting the pressing concerns of a community in turmoil as the political upheavals of China in the final years of the Qing dynasty competed for attention with the disastrous effects of the White Australia policy. Taking the form of a picaresque and cautionary tale warning against traditional practices such as polygamy, opium smoking and foot-binding, the novel seeks to educate members of the lower classes of the Chinese community while embracing the republican cause against the Manchu rulers. The article argues that the progressive political agenda of the text (democratic, feminist) stands in sharp contrast to the view of the Chinese which prevailed in the white Australian community at the time.

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Huang, Z. & Ommundsen, W. "Poison, polygamy and postcolonial politics: The first Chinese Australian novel." Journal of Postcolonial Writing 52 .5 (2016): 533-544.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85003032911

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/2770

Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 533

End Page


  • 544

Volume


  • 52

Issue


  • 5