Document Type

Journal Article


Rolf Boldrewood's forgotten 1894 novel, A Sydney-Side Saxon, merits re-examination as a fascinating nineteenth-century medievalist vision of Australian national identity. The novel's vision of pastoral Australia depends on idiosyncratic notions of Saxon and Norman ethnicity derived from Scott's Ivanhoe. While Scotts portrait of post-conquest England dramatizes the ethnic and political conflict between Norman conquerors and subjected Saxons, Boldrewood consistentlypresents Norman and Saxons as two complementary sides of an English `type' that is perfectly fitted to achieve the colonial settlement of Australia. Boldrewood's racialized vision of Englands medieval past informs not only his novels celebration of colonial meritocracy in Australia, but also its apologia for colonial violence and indigenous dispossession. As in Ivanhoe, however, the dispossessed Others of Boldrewood's novel continue to haunt the margins of its narrative.