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The Bilingual Cockatoo Writing Italian Australian Lives

by John Gatt-Rutter

Page Extent:240 pages
Book Size:233 x 153 mm (Height x Width x Depth)

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This book is a study of biographies and autobiographies of Italian Australians. It looks at full-length life-writing texts, including accounts of the Italian Australian experience of war-time internment, success stories, narratives of trauma and grievance and life narratives as a form of ethnography. There is a variable zoom focus, ranging from a whole chapter devoted to a single text, to surveys of a dozen or more texts in each of four chapters. A final overview maps out a chronology and typology of Italian Australian life writing relating it to immigrant life writing generally. Given its topic, the book has a tightly integrated double analytical focus. On the one hand, it studies the textual strategies deployed by the writers, and, on the other hand, it explores the experiential dimensions highlighted by the texts. The Bilingual Cockatoo is for anyone interested in the life-writing genres as well as Australia’s Italians and, more generally, in ethnic mixing and in the multicultural texture of Australian society. It brings to the reader’s attention a corpus of over 60 book-length biographies and autobiographies, mostly in English, as well as mentioning several collections of shorter oral histories.