Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Cynthia vanden Driesen


This thesis is an analysis of Peter Carey's novel Jack Maggs and its attempt at writing back to Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. I will analyse the (de)construction of language games between Jack Maggs and Great Expectations; show how Carey as a post-colonial settler writer writes back to the centre, to Dickens' text as a canonical Victorian novel, through intergrating the very notion of the Victorian novel, and in his own terms giving the convict a "history". I will explore how Carey writes competing language games of "science" and "narrative" (as identified by Lyotard) within Jack Maggs and how they produce what Lyotard calls a differend within history: Tobias Oates' construction of Jack Maggs' history through the scientific language game of Animal Magnetism, which relies on the notion of a centre and concrete metaphors to make sense, is in competition with Jack Maggs' private history constructed through narrative language games, unrestricted by limiting procedures. I will discuss the aporia of identity for the settler writer, which is internally (Slemon, 1997, p.l09) inscribed within the text, and within Jack Maggs; how the process of identity is not closed within or outside the text; how Carey's Australian identities are formed without resorting to nationalist notions of closure and purity. The purity of nation state, which is legitimated by a meta-narrative of History, is no longer credible in Carey's postmodern/post colonial enceinte. Finally, I will show how Carey moves to cut symbolic ties with England to form an Australian republic, which is acceptant of heterogeneous and fluid notions of identity: of Australian national identities without a fixed notion of the nation state; a history of Australia which incorporates its "fictions" and its "truths"; a notion of history which is constructed from narrative language games and scientific language games.