Topic 62 – The commonwealth. Cultural diversity. Development of linguistic varieties. Intercultural influences and manifestations. The novels of e. M. Forster, doris lessing and nadine gordimer

Topic 62 – The commonwealth. Cultural diversity. Development of linguistic varieties. Intercultural influences and manifestations. The novels of e. M. Forster, doris lessing and nadine gordimer



1.1. Aims of the unit.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.


2.1. Definition.

2.2. A brief history of the Commonwealth.

2.2.1. Origins.

2.2.2. Membership.

2.2.3. Organization.

2.3. Historical background.

2.4.1. The first British empire. XVth and XVIth century. XVIIth century . XVIIIth century.

2.4.2. The second British empire: XIXth century.

2.4.3. The dis mantling of the Britis h empire: XXth and XXIst century.


3.1. The Commonwealth: principles and values.

3.2. The Commonwealth: cultural and linguistic diversity.

3.2.1. Canada.

3.2.2. Australia.

3.2.3. New Zealand.

3.2.4. South Africa.

3.2.5. India.

3.2.6. The Caribbean Islands.



4.1. Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970).

4.2. Doris Lessing (1919-).

4.3. Nadine Gordimer (1923 -).





1.1. Aims of the unit.

The present unit, Unit 62, aims to provide a useful introduction to the Commonwealth from a general overview regarding its cultural diversity and development of linguistic varieties as well as in terms of intercultural influences and manifestations, which are namely reflected in the novels of E.M. Forster, D. Lessing and N. Gordimer. In doing so, the unit is to be divided into three main chapters which correspond to the three main tenets of this unit: first, Chapter 2 deals with the entity of (1) the Commonwealth in terms of (a) definition, (b) brief history of the Commonwealth regarding (i) origins, (ii) membership, and (iii) organization, that is, its evolution as an international organization up to the present day; and (c) a historical background of the development and administration of the British colonial empire from the seventeenth century to the present day, by reviewing (i) the first British empire, which traces back to the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century; (ii) the second empire, which ranges the nineneteenth century; and (iii) the dismantling of the British empire in the twentieth and twenty- first century in terms of colonies, and for our purposes, states members.

Secondly, Chapter 3 approaches the Commonwealth country members’ cultural diversity and development of linguistic varieties individually. So, we shall try to present an overview of the Commonwealth cultural and linguistic variety by addressing (1) the Commonwealth principles and values, and how these principles and values are present in (2) the countries which founded the Commonwealth, namely (a) Canada, (b) Australia, (c) New Zealand, (d) South Africa, (e) India, and (f) the Caribbean Islands.

Finally, in Chapter 4 the intercultural influences and manifestations are to be found within a literary background in the novels of E.M. Forster, D. Lessing and N. Gordimer. In general, the literature of the time was both shaped by and reflected the prevailing ideologies of the day which, following Speck (1998), means that this is an account of literary activity in which social, economic, cultural and political allegiances are placed very much to the fore. In this chapter, we shall namely deal with post-colonial literature so as to frame Forster, Lessing and Gordimer’s literary works in an appropriate social and political context to make him coincide with the late consequences of the British imperialism. So, we shall provide the reader with the biographies of (1) Edward Morgan Forster, (2) Doris Lessing and (3) Nadine Gordimer in terms of life, main works and style so as to frame their lives in an appropriate social and political context to make him coincide with the late consequences of the British imperialism.

Chapter 5 will be devoted to the main educational implications in language teaching regarding the introduction of this issue in the classroom setting. Chapter 6 will offer a conclusion to

broadly overview our present study, and Chapter 7 will include all the bibliographical references for further information.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

An influential introduction to the historical background of the Victorian period, Imperialism and the Industrial Revolution is based on Thoorens, Panorama de las literaturas Daimon: Inglaterra y América del Norte. Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos de América (1969); and Alexander, A History of English Literature (2000). The literary background includes the works of Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature (1996); Speck, Literature and Society in Eighteenth -Century England: Ideology Politics and Culture (1998). Magnusson & Goring, Cambridge Biographical Dictionary (1990).

General information on the Commonwealth are drawn from the Encyclopedia Encarta (1997), The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (2003); the Encyclopaedia Britannica (2004); a brief guide to the association provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat (2003); and two outstanding webpages and The background for educational implications is based on the theory of communicative competence and communicative approaches to language teaching are provided by the most complete record of current publications within the educational framework is provided by the guidelines in B.O.E. (2004) for both E.S.O. and Bachillerato; and the Council of Europe, Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference (1998).


Chapter 2 deals with the entity of (1) the Commonwealth in terms of (a) definition, (b) brief history of the Commonwealth regarding (i) origins, (ii) membership , and (iii) organization, that is, its evolution as an international organization up to the present day; and (c) a historical background of the development and administration of the British colonial empire from the seventeenth century to the present day, by reviewing (i) the first British empire, which traces back to the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century; (ii) the second empire, which ranges the nineneteenth century; and (iii) the dismantling of the British empire in the twentieth and twenty-first century in terms of colonies, and for our purposes, states members.

2.1. Definition.

Following the Encyclopaedia Britannica (2004) , the term ‘commonwealth’ refers to “a body politic founded on law for the common “weal,” or good. The term was often used by 17th- century writers to signify an organized political community, its meaning thus being similar to the modern meaning of state or nation.” For instance, nowadays we talk about the commonwealth to make distinction in name only regarding the four U.S. states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) which call themselves ‘commonwealths’; Puerto Rico, which has been a commonwealth rather than a state since 1952; and “its residents, though U.S. citizens, have only a nonvoting representative in Congress and pay no federal taxes.”

Yet, traditionally, it primarily referred to the Commonwealth of Nations regarding the “free association of sovereign states consisting of Britain and many of its former dependencies who have chosen to maintain ties of friendship and cooperation. It was established in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster as the British Commowealth of Nations. Later its name was changed and it was redefined to include independent nations. Most of the dependent states that gained independence after 1947 chose Commonwealth membership.” Moreover, “the British monarch serves as its symbolic head, and meetings of the more than 50 Commowealth heads of government take place every two years.”

2.2. A brief history of the Commonwealth.

2.2.1. Origins.

As we shall see later, “territorial acquisition began in the early 17th century with a group of settlements in North America and West Indian, East Indian, and African trading posts founded by private individuals and trading companies. In the 18th century the British took Gibraltar, established colonies along the Atlantic seacoast, and began to add territory in India. With its victory in the French and Indian War (1763), it secured Canada and the eastern Mississippi Valley and gained supremacy in India” (Britannica, 2004). By 1776 the American colonies were controlled by governors appointed by the British government and by 1783, North American colonists got their independence by establishing the Constitution of the United States.

After that, the British began to build power in Malaya and acquired the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Malta. The English settled Australia in 1788, and subsequently New Zealand. Aden was secured in 1839, and Hong Kong in 1842. Britain went on to control the

Suez Canal (1875-1956) and after the 19th-century partitition of Africa, it acquired Nigeria, Egypt, the territories that would become British East Africa, and part of what would become the Union of South Africa. It must be borne in mind that prior to 1783, Britain claimed full authority over colonial legislatures, but after the U.S. gained independence, Britain gradually evolved a system of self-government for some colonies. Hence since Dominion status was given to Canada (1867), the British Empire started to change into a ‘Commonwealth’ of independent nations as later on it was also given to Australia (1901), New Zealand (1907), the Union of South Africa (1910), and the Irish Free State (1921).

After World War I, Britain secured mandates to German East Africa, part of the Cameroons, part of Togo, German South-West Africa, Mesopotamia, Palestine, and part of the German Pacific islands. Yet, the dominions signed the peace treaties themselves (Paris Peace Conference (1919), where commissions were appointed to study specific financial and territorial questions, and the Treaty of Versailles, an international agreement signed in 1919) and joined the League of Nations, an organization for international cooperation established by the Allied Powers so as to be independent states. The league established a system of colonial mandates, but it was weakened by the failure of the United States, which had not ratified the Treaty of Versailles (1919). So, the League ceased its activities during World War II and it was replaced in 1946 by the United Nations.

In 1931 the Statute of Westminster recognized the mentioned dominions as independent countries “within the British empire,” referring to the “British Commonwealth of Nations.” Following the Encyclopaedia Britannica (2004), at the time of its founding, the Commonwealth consisted of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State (withdrew in 1949), Newfoundland (which became a Canadian province in 1949), New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa (withdrew in 1961) , but after World War II, with “British” no longer officially used, the Commonwealth was joined by more countries.

2.2.2. Membership.

So, regarding membership, we may define the ‘Commonwealth’ as the “association of 54 states consulting, co-operating and working together in the common interest of their peoples and in promotion of international understanding and world peace. With a total population of 1.7 billion people, the Commonwealth represents almost one-third of the world’s population and one-third

of the membership of the United Nations.” (Secretariat, 2003). These 54 country members1 are listed now in alphabetical order in terms of dates of joining.

Thus Antigua and Barbuda (1981), Australia (1931 –Statute of Westminster-), The Bahamas (1973), Bangladesh (1972), Barbados (1966), Belize (1981), Botswana (1966), Brunei Darussalam (1984), Cameroon (1995), Canada (1931 –Statute of Westminster-), Cyprus (1961), Dominica (1978), Fiji Islands (1970 –rejoined in 1997), The Gambia (1965), Ghana (1957), Grenada (1974), India (1947), Jamaica (1962), Kenya (1963), Kiribati (1979), Lesotho (1966), Malawi (1964), Malaysia (1957), Maldives (1982), Malta (1964), Mauritius (1968), Mozambique (1995), Namibia (1990), Nauru (1968), New Zealand (1931 –Statute of Westminster-), Nigeria (1960), Pakistan (1947 –rejoined 1989 and suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth in October 1999-), Papua New Guinea (1975), St Kitts and Nevis (1983), St Lucia (1979), St Vincent and the Grenadines (1979), Samoa (1970), Seychelles (1976), Sierra Leone (1961), Singapore (1965), Solomon Islands (1978), South Africa (1931 –Statute of Westminster; rejoined 1994 having left in 1961), Sri Lanka (1978, originally Ceylon), Swaziland (1968), Tonga (1970), Trinidad and Tobago (1962), Tuvalu (1978), Uganda (1962), United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania (1961), Vanuatu (1980), Zambia (1964), Zimbabwe (1980 –suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth in March 2002-).

2.2.3. Organization.

The organization of the Commonwealth entity is carried out by a general board known as ComSuper (Commonwealth Superannuation Administration), which has its origins in the Superannuation Fund Management Board. Following, “the Board was formed in Melbourne on 20 November 1922 under the authority of the Superannuation Act 1922 to deal with the general administration and working of the first superannuation scheme for Commonwealth employees. The Board directly hired staff to assist it in administering the

clip_image001scheme,” and this is where the Commonwealth internal organization began.

1 We also provide the list in chronological order, thus India, Pakistan (1947; Pakistan withdrew in 1972, but rejoined in 1989); Ceylon (1948; now Sri Lanka); Ghana (1957); Nigeria (1960); Cypress, Sierra Leone (1961); Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Western Samoa (1962); Kenya, Malaysia (1963); Malawi, Malta, Tanzania, Zambia

(1964); Gambia, Singapore (1965); Barbados, Botswana, Guyana, Lesotho (1966); Mauritius, Nauru (special status),

Swaziland (1968); Tonga (1970); Bangladesh (1972); Bahamas (1973); Grenada (1974); Papua New Guinea (1975); Seychelles (1976); Solomon Islands, Tuvalu (special status), Dominica (1978); St. Lucia, Kiribati, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1979); Zimbabwe, Vanuatu (1980); Belize, Antigua and Barbuda (1981); Maldives (1982); St. Kitts – Nevis (1983); Brunei (1984); South Africa (rejoined 1994); Cameroon, Mozambique (1995). The last significant British colony, Hong Kong, was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

The Commonwealth has a Secretariat which has its origins in the mentioned board. As this employed the staff directly, there was no separate administration agency, and so the President of the Board was the head of the Agency. The main head agents since 1922 have been Mr FJ Ross (1922-1930), Mr P Rees (1930-1950), Mr NS Swindon (1950-1952), Mr RG Parker (1952-

1954), Mr NS Swindon (1954-1960), Mr EA Dundas (1960-1961), Mr JM Henderson (1961-

1964), Mr LK Burgess (1964-1976), Mr RC Davey (1976-1986), Mr GN Vanthoff (1986- 1992), Mr KA Searson (1992-1997), Ms CM Goode (1997-2002), and at present Mr Leo Bator (2002- present).

The main issue in the current year of operation is getting the new scheme up and working. Then the date contributions commence, and the Board have to work quickly to issue information to Commonwealth employees. Ultimately, the President of the Board visits each State Capital to speak with employees and Commonwealth agencies directly. Every year there is a meeting of heads of government (the Superannuation Board with an annual report), which circulates among the different countries. Also, members of the British Royal family make their visits to member states, and do much to keep alive the symbolic links.

After the WWII (1948), the Commonwealth Board introduced the Defence Force Retirement Benefits Scheme, created the DFRB Board, and the Chairman of this Board (Mr P Rees). “The scheme was introduced for all military members, and resulted from the introduction of a revised uniform pay code for the three Services. Administration of the DFRB Scheme was carried out by the Defence Division of the Dept of Treasury. Administration responsibility for the DFRB Scheme was transferred to the Superannuation Board in 1959.”

During the 1970s, the Office was renamed the Australian Government Retirement Benefits Office (AGRBO) (1973); and introduced the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act which established the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) Scheme. All running costs for the new scheme were met from AGRBO’s annual appropriation. Also, the Superannuation Act (1976) established the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS), the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust (SFIT) for fund management, and created the position of Commissioner for Superannuation.

During the early 1980s a range of resource management functions was transferred from the Dept of Finance. The most significant being that the Commissioner for Superannuation assumed Departmental Secretary powers and control of the staff of AGRBO. Yet, a major change in the membership profile occurred with the introduction of the Commonwealth Employees Redeployment and Retirement Act (1980-81) which provided for retirement at age 55. Also, during the 1980s a major computer modernisation program saw the shift to on-line contributor

maintenance and benefits processing, computerised registry, personnel, accounting, and numerous other administrative processes.

The 1990s saw a period of membership contraction which had its peak in 1990 when large GBE’s like Telecom, Australia Post and CAA established their own schemes. Also, in AGRBO shortened its name to the Retirement Benefits Office (RBO); the introduction of the Superannuation Act 1990 which established the Public Sector Superannuation (PSS) Scheme. The Boards delegated certain of their powers of administration to the Commissioner for Superannuation and the staff of RBO, and a Secretariat was established within RBO to service the Boards.

In 1994 RBO changed its name to Commonwealth Superannuation Administration (ComSuper) to reflect the Office’s mission to provide high performance superannuation services for public sector and military employers and scheme members. ComSuper now administers complex benefit provisions for nine Public Service and Australian Defence Force superannuation schemes. In addition, it must now manage an extensive web of accountability relationships in its daily operations with Boards of Trustees, Scheme Members, Employing Agencies, Government Ministers, the Departments of Finance and Defence, Investment Advisors, Master Custodians and Regulatory Authorities.

Also, apart from improving productivity, quality and practice, ComSuper is also adopting a role in superannuation awareness and promotion by representing industry peak bodies, through a schools’ superannuation awareness program, and through retirement and retrenchment presentations. More recently, ComSuper’s main premises include a significantly better public reception area with adjoining interview rooms, new facilities for conducting seminars for members; an enhanced disaster recovery plan designed into new computing facilities.

2.3. Historical background.

On providing a historical background of the policy of the colonial expansion in general terms, where we shall analyse first the difference between the concepts imperialism vs. colonialism, which will lead us to what historians call the two British empires. First of all, it is quite relevant to differenciate between the concepts ‘imperialism’ and ‘colonialism’ so as to better understand the imperial expansion of Great Britain. Thus, whereas the term ‘imperialism’ refers to the principle, spirit , or system of empire, and is driven by ideology, the term ‘colonialism’ refers to the principle, spirit, or system of establishing colonies, which is driven by commerce. Hence,

the worldwide system of dependencies –colonies, protectorates, and other territories- that over a span of three centuries came under the British government.

Secondly, within this policy of imperial expansion and the establishment of new colonies all over the world, historians make a distinction between two British empires which follows a temporal classification within different centuries. Thus, according to (2004), the first British empire is to be set up in the seventeenth century, “when the European demand for sugar and tobacco led to the development of plantations on the islands of the Caribbean and in southeast North America. These colonies, and those settled by religious dissenters in northeast North America, attracted increasing numbers of British and European colonists”. Hence, “the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries saw the first British Empire expanding into areas formerly controlled by the Dutch and Spanish Empires (then in decline) and coming into conflict with French colonial aspirations in Africa, Canada, and India. With the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British effectively took control of Canada and India, but the American Revolution (1776) brought their first empire to an end”.

On the other hand, a further phase of territorial expansion that led to the second British Empire was initiated by the exploratory voyages of Captain James Cook to Australia and New Zealand in the 1770s. “This reached its widest point during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901). At no time in the first half of her reign was empire a central preoccupation of her or her governments, but this was to change in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), which altered the balance of power in Europe”.

During the next decades, the British empire was compared to the Roman empire because of its extension, but the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (up to the present day) were just about to see the development in the dismantling of the British Empire with the declaration of independence of the British colonies in India (1947) and Hong Kong (1997). So, one by one, the subject peoples of the British Empire have entered a postcolonial era, in which they must reassess their national identity, their history and literature, and their relationship with the land and language of their former masters (

2.3.1. The first British empire. XVth and XVIth century.

There is no doubt that the political, social and economic background of the seventeenth-century

Great Britain established the main basis for the policy of colonial expansion in the following

centuries (the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). Yet, previous events, which trace back to the fifteenth century and take place within the field of exploration, mark the beginning of this colonial adventure on the part of the most powerful empires at that time, thus Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal, France and Great Britain.

Before British colonists reached the Atlantic Coast of North America, other non-British colonies did it much earlier. For instance, the Viking Leif Eriksson discovered North America accidentally on October 9, 1000; then nearly five hundred years later, Portugal, which was a leading country in the European exploration of the world, began charting the far shores of the Atlantic Ocean before Spain began.

Yet, in 1492, Cristobal Columbus brought this land to Europe’s attention on behalf of Spain , the main colonial power of the day, which focused its efforts on the exploitation of the gold-rich empires of southern Mexico (the Aztec) and of the Andes (the Inca). Portuguese explorers (Pedro Alvares Cabral) landed in American coasts (Porto Seguro, Brazil) on April 22, 1500, eight years later than Spain did.

Yet, after them no serious colonization efforts were made for decades, until England, France, and Spain began to claim and expand their territory in the New World. In fact, the first French attempt at colonization was in 1598 on Sable Island (southeast of present Nova Scotia ). Next, during the 17th century, Dutch traders established trade posts and plantations throughout the Americas. However, Dutch settling in North America was not as common as other European nations’ settlements. Many of the Dutch settlements had been abandoned or lost by the end of the century, with the exception of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba , which remain Dutch territory until this day, and Suriname, which became independent in 1975.

Also, Denmark started a colony on St Thomas in 1671, and St John in 1718, and founded colonies in Greenland in 1721, which is now a self-governing part of the Kingdom of Denmark. During the 18th century, the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea were divided into two territorial units, one English and the other Danish, which were also used as a base for pirates. Finally, other countries followed such as Russia, whose explorers discovered Alaska in 1732. XVIIth century.

The seventeenth century has its starting point in the death of Elizabeth I (1603) and the accession of James I to the crown. This period, known as the Stuart Age (1603-1713) and also

called the Jacobean Era, the age of Cromwell and the Restoration, is characterized by crisis, civil wars, the Commonwealth and the Restoration, and establishes the immediate background to the Industrial Revolution and the establishment of the first American colonies.

Therefore, the political background is to be framed upon the Stuart succession line, thus under the rule of James I (1603-1625). Under his rule, he achieved the unification of the crowns of England and Scotland, and brought the long war with Spain to an end. Although this greatly helped the English treasury and also James’s reputation (as rex pacificus), the policy was, in part, unpopular because peace meant that both the English and the Dutch had to acknowledge the Spanish claim to a monopoly of trade between their own South American colonies and the rest of the world.

His son, Charles I (1625-1642), ruled until civil war broke out in 1642. He became King of Great Britain and Ireland on his father’s death from 1625 to 1642, but soon friction between the throne and Parliament began almost at once. For eleven years, Charles ruled without parliament, a period described as ‘the Eleven Years’ Tyranny’, which led to civil war and his eventual judicial execution in 1649 (called a ‘regicide’). This is the reason why we may note that in the succession line, there is an eighteen-year interval between reigns (1642-1660), called Interregnum, when first Parliament and Oliver Cromwell established themselves as rulers of England.

Next, Cromwell (1642-1660) controlled the political affairs until monarchy was restored by Charles II (1660-1685); this was followed by his brother, James II (1685-1689) who, in 1668, fled before his invading son- in- law, the Dutchman William of Orange became William III. Then William and Mary II (1689-1707) were succeeded by Mary’s sister, Queen Anne (1702-1713). Each of their contributions were crucial for the development and administration of the British empire all over the world.

These events contributed to the most influential change of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, that of population. Whereas for the first half of the century the population continued to grow and, as a result, there was pressure on food resources, land and jobs, and increased price inflation, the late seventeenth century saw the easing, if not the disappearance of these problems. Family-planning habits started to change and new methods of farming increased dramatically. From the 1670s, England became an exporter as opposed to a net importer of grain. The seventeenth century is also probably the first in English history in which more people emigrated than immigrated, hence the period of American colonization.

Yet, undoubtely, the most important step which favoured the imperial expansion was made in the economic field: the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694. As mentioned above, the continental wars of James II (1685-1689) and William of Orange, known as William III (1689-

1707), were really expensive, and as a result, England was forced to raise a considerable national debt. In 1694, the Scotsman William Paterson founded the Bank of England to assist the crown by managing the public debt, and eventually it became the national reserve for the British Isles. Yet, in 1697, any further joint-stock banks were forbidden just to secure its position of prominence in England.

It was this debt that forced the British government to use the colonies as a source of economic income. In fact, the Secretary of state for the South was established in London so as to deal with colonial business. Other government departments, such as the treasury, the customs, the admiralty, and the war office also had representatives in the colonies, where the chief representative of the Imperial government was the governor, appointed by the king or by the proprietors with his approval.

The general desire in this century was for the American continent and islands serve as a source for products and as a market for their manufacturers. Till the end of this century the pressure of France expansion on almost all sides of the American colonies, except the sea, was a constant remainder to them of their ultimate dependence on England’s military support and their main aim was to develop a naval supremacy over France.

So, in North America the establishment of American colonies meant the starting point of British colonial activity in the Western hemisphere and also, a new place for immigrants to hide from political and religious crisis in England. The political history of Colonial America will make us comprehend the preparation of the whole people for the radical change of government they were so soon to undergo in British colonies, and the strong spirit of democracy which led Britain to the loss of the American colonies with the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

In the XVIIth century we distinguish two types of earlier colonies: non-British and British; whereas the first group namely includes Viking, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch and Danish colonists, the second group is formed by Anglosaxons. Moreover, non-British colonies, namely French and Dutch, were founded on aristocratic principles and strove vigorously to gain liberal institutions. Following Daimon (1969), had their political circumstances been different in Europe, they could have also gained the control of the continent. Yet, Holland was quite wealthy and had few immigrants, and France had a great number of immigrants but was not

interested in the snow land. Yet, the struggle for control of this land would continue for more than a hundred years.

The thirteen British colonies of America were formed under a variety of differing conditions. The settlement of Virginia was the work of a company of London merchants, that of New England of a body of Puritan refugees from persecution. Most of the other colonies were formed through the efforts of proprietors, to whom the king had made large grants of territory. None of them were of royal or parliamentary establishment and therefore, the government of the mother- country took no part in the original formation of the government of the colonies, except in the somewhat flexible requirements of the charters granted to the proprietors.

The colonies were classified into (1) New England colonies, made up by Rhode, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Among them, the most famous first colonies were Plymouth colony (1620) and Massachusetts Bay Colony (1629), which were settled by two groups of of religious dissenters who escaped religious persecution in England: the Pilgrims and the Puritans; (2) the rest of British colonies in America followed after Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, consisting of Middle colonies, such as New York, Pennsylvania, the three counites of Delaware, and Maryland, which were namely characterized by a wide diversity, both religious, political, economic, and ethnic; and (3) the southern colonies which include Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and the two Carolinas (north and south). Yet, the most important to mention is Virgina colony, which is considered to be the first permanent settlement in North America under the name of the English colony of Jamestown (1607), was the first English colony2 in America to survive and become permanent and become later the capital of Virginia and the site of the House of Burgesses.

But the main causes of social decentralization were soon to be noticed. As the colony of

Virginia was so heavily influenced by the cultivation of tobacco and the ownership of slaves, in

1619 large numbers of Africans were brought to this colony into the slave trade. Thus, individual workers on the plantation fields were usually without family and separated from their nearest neighbours by miles. This meant that little social infrastructure developed for the commoners of Virgina society, in contrast with the highly developed social infrastructure of

clip_image001[1]colonial New England.

2 The settlement was struck by severe droughts in centuries and as a result, only a third of the colonists furvived the first winter, and even, source documents indicate that some turned to cannibalism. Yet, the colony survived in large

part to the efforts of John Smith, whose moto was ‘No work, no food’. He put the colonists to work, and befriended

Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, who supplied the colony with food.

By this time, the English colonies were thirteen: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Although all these British colonies were strikingly different, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries several events took place and brought relevant changes in the colonies: whereas some of the them sprung from their common roots as part of the British Empire, others led up to the American Revolution, and to the final separation from England. XVIIIth century.

The eighteenth century was to witness the most important consequences of the industrial revolution within the British colonial expansion, both in America and overseas. Although there was general properity in the Middle and Southern colonies, as well as social and political struggle, American colonies had to face the arrival of loads of immigrants from Europe. Their economy, based on the production of rice, indigo and naval stores, was booming in contrast to the hostile attitude of Indians at the frontier. In the upper south, Virginia and Maryland’s tobacco prices were falling and crop failures became very usual. Yet, in New England, the social and political atmosphere was quite calm, but not the economy since the Sugar Act imposed taxes and new commercial regulations on them. The main causes which led the thirteen colonies to revolution are stated as follows:

The first event relates to the French and Indian War (1754-1763), which meant the American extension of the general European conflict known as the Seven Years’ War. The war takes its name from the Iroquois confederacy, which had been playing the British and the French against each other successfully for decades. Eventually, in the Treaty of Paris (1763) , France surrendered its vast North American empire to Britain. During the war the thirteen colonies’s identity as part of the British Empire was made truly apparent, as British military and civilian officials took on an increased presence in the lives of Americans.

The war also increased a sense of American unity in men who might normally have never left their colonies to travel across the continent, and fighting alongside men from decidedly different. However, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time (William Pitt), decided to wage the war in the colonies with the use of troops from the colonies and tax funds from Britain itself, which was a successful wartime strategy. Yet,

this dispute was to set off the chain of events that brought about the American


The Royal Proclamation (1763) was a prohibition against settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains, on land which had been recently captured from France. In issuing this decree, the government was no doubt influenced by disgruntled taxpayers who did not wish to bankroll the subjugation of the native people of the area to make room for colonists. Yet, for most Americans, it seemed unnecessary to accept an unproductive piece of legislation stated by a far-away government that cared little for their needs, although Parliament had generally been preoccupied with affairs in Europe, and let the colonies govern themselves. The policy change would continue to arouse opposition in the colonies over the next thirteen years and through a series of measures, which were to be named as acts.

Thus, the Sugar Act (1764), which increased taxes on sugar, coffee, indigo, and certain kinds of wine, and it banned importation of rum and French wines; the Stamp Act (1765-1766), which was carried out by the British Parliament to tax activities in their American colonies; as a result, the British Parliament passed at least two laws, known as the Quartering Act. The first one became law on 24 March 1765, and provided that Britain would house its soldiers in America first in barracks and public houses, and the second (also called the Intolerable Acts, the Punitive Acts or the Coercive Acts) was one of the measures that were designed to secure Britain’s jurisdiction over her American dominions; the Declaratory Act (1766) was established to secure the dependency of his Majesty’s dominions in America upon the crown and parliament of Great Britain. This act states that American colonies and plantations are subordinated to, and dependent upon the imperial crown and parliament of Great Britain; and that the King’ majesty as full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain.

The Townshend Revenue Act (1767) placed new taxes on glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea. Therefore, colonial reaction to these taxes was the same as to the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, and Britain eventually repealed all the taxes except the one on tea. In response to the sometimes violent protests by the American colonists, Great Britain sent more troops to the colonies; the Tea Act (1773) gave a monopoly on tea sales to the East India Company. Since the East Indian Company wasn’t doing so well, the British wanted to give it some more business. The price on this East India tea was lowered so much that it was way below tea from other suppliers. But the American colonists saw

this law as yet another means of “taxation without representation” because it meant that they could not buy tea from anyone else (including other colonial merchants) without spending a lot more money.

Their response was to refuse to unload the tea from the ships in Boston, a situation that led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Angry and frustrated at a new tax on tea, American colonists (calling themselves the Sons of Liberty and disguised as Mohawk Native Americans) boarded three British ships (the Dartmouth , the Eleanor, and the Beaver) and dumped 342 whole crates of British tea into Boston harbor on December

16, 1773. Similar incidents occurred in Maryland, New York, and New Jersey in the

next few months, and tea was eventually boycotted throughout the colonies. The Boston Tea Party was an amusing and symbolic episode in American history, an example of how far Americans were willing to go to speak out for their freedom.

The punitive effect of these laws generated a reaction in a great and growing sympathy for the colonists of Massachusetts, encouraging the neighbouring colonies to band to together which would help lead to the American Revolutionary War. Eventually, in

1775, under George III’s reign, the British North American colonies revolted in Massachusetts due to the previous frustration with the British crown practices, and namely to their opposition to British economic explotiation and also their unwillingness to pay for a standing army. Anti-monarchist sentiment was strong, as the colonists wanted to participate in the politics affecting them.

The next year, representatives of thirteen of the British colonies in North America met in Philadelphia and declared their independence in a remarkable document, the Declaration of Independence. The committee had intrusted that task to Thomas Jefferson, who, though at that time only thirty-three years of age, was chosen for two main reasons: first, because he was held to possess a singular felicity in the expression of popular ideas and, second, because he represented the province of Virginia, the oldest of the Anglo-American colonies.

Jefferson, having produced the required document, reported it to the House on the 28th of June, where it was read, and ordered to lie on the table. After the conclusion of the debate on the resolution of independence on 2nd July, the Declaration was passed under review. During the remainder of that day and the two next, this remarkable production was very closely considered and shifted, and several alterations were made in it, namely the omission of those sentences which reflected upon the English people, and the striking out of a clause which severely reprobated the slave-trade.

The debate on the proposed Declaration came to a termination two days later, on the evening of the 4th of July. The document was then reported by the committee, agreed to by the House, and signed by every member present, except General Dickinson. The signature of New York was not given till several days later, and a New Hampshire member, Matthew Thornton, was permitted to append his signature on November 4 (four months after the signing). With the help of their French allies they were eventually able to win the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain, settled by the Treaty of Paris (1783). So, we can say that the United States of America was founded in 1776 from British colonies along the Atlantic Coast of North America and was declared to be independent in 1778.

The debate on the proposed Declaration came to a termination two days later, on the evening of the 4th of July. The document was then reported by the committee, agreed to by the House, and signed by every member present, except General Dickinson. The signature of New York was not given till several days later, and a New Hampshire member, Matthew Thornton, was permitted to append his signature on November 4 (four months after the signing). With the help of their French allies they were eventually able to win the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain, settled by the Treaty of Paris (1783). So, we can say that the United States of America was founded in 1776 from British colonies along the Atlantic Coast of North America and was declared to be independent in 1778.

In the rest of the world, interests expanded through the eighteenth century to such extent that in the early years of the 18th century the East India Company proves successful regarding commercial interchanges in India and, in fact, a statutory monopoly of trade was established between England and India (1708). The number and importance of factories made the English Company have the control on the area (it had three presidencies at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras) although Bombay was the only absolute possession in French or English hands. Despite the fact that it was not a pure trading company, it found no rivalry from other European states in India since the Portuguese and Dutch, which had established their position in India, left with few and unimportant possessions or factories.

Overseas, during the earlier half of the century the British empire established more successful trading companies not only in the West Indies but also in Africa (the Royal African Company) and in the South Sea (the South Sea Company). On the American Continent, the Caribbean islands not only provided Britain with sugar and slave trade but also with strategic possessions, which was a crucial issue in the fight between England and France for colonial possessions. In fact, as stated above, the British government established the Navigation Act (1773) so as to monopolize the trade of its products (namely tobacco and sugar) and therefore, establish a close

economic system and guarantee a sheltered market in Britain, not subject to competition from other colonies, such as those of France, Portugal and Spain.

In the second half of the century, some remaining British colonies were lost temporarily after the treatise, for instance, the Caribbean islands were controlled by France and Tobago and Minorca were no longer British. However, the rest of colonies were not economically strong enough to think of independence even if they had wanted it, as it was the case of South Africa, which was a military and trading port, a naval station and a port of call. Canada was of greater economic importance in the sense that its citizens were free to manage their local affairs, so the demand for self-government did not imply a wish for separation. The colonies were therefore asking for something like municipal independence.

In 1768, the first British empire reached the second phase of expansion with the exploratory voyages of James Cook, who undertook the first of three voyages to the Pacific, surveying New Zealand, modern Australia, Tahiti and Hawaii. His second voyage (1773) made him the first Britain to reach Antarctica, and his third voyage (1778-1779) led him to discover and name island groups in the South Pacific, such as the Sandwich Islands. Unfortunately, Cook was killed on Hawai on 14 February 1779.

Eventually, the colonisation of the Antipodes, that is, Australia and New Zealand took place as an attempt to find a place for penal settlement after the loss of the original American colonies. The first shipload of British convicts landed in this largely unexplored continent in 1788, on the site of the future city of Sydney. Most convicts were young men who had only committed petty crimes. In the nineteenth century (1819) new settlers were allowed to set up in New South Wales and by 1858 transportation of convicts was abolished.

2.3.2. The second British empire: XIXth century.

Following the information given in, “During the next decades, two great statesmen brought the issue of imperialism to the top of the nation’s political agenda: the flamboyant Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881), who had a romantic vision of empire that the sterner William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898) distrusted and rejected. Disraeli’s expansionist vision prevailed and was transmitted by newspapers and novels to a reading public dramatically expanded by the Education Act of 1870.

Symbolically, the British Empire reached its highest point on June 22, 1897, the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, which the British celebrated as a festival of empire. It was a great moment where the British Empire was compared to the Roman Empire3, comparison which was endlessly invoked in further discussions and literary works, for instance, at the start of Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness (1902) and in Thomas Hardy’s Poems of Past and Present (1901).

In 1897 the Empire seemed invincible, but only two years later British confidence was shaken by the news of defeats at Magersfontein and Spion Kop in the Anglo-Boer War (1899- 1902). Those and other battles were lost, but eventually the war was won, and it took two world wars to bring the British Empire to its end. Those wars also were won, with the loyal help of troops from the overseas empire”.

The political background is namely represented by the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne when her uncle, William IV dies in 1837. So Victoria would reign from 1837 to 1901 and would be the longest reigning British monarch. In general terms, during Victoria’s reign, the revolution in industrial practices continued to change British life, bringing about urbanisation, a good communications network and wealth. In addition, Britain became a champion of Free Trade across her massive Empire, and industrialisation and trade were glorified in the Great Exhibitions. Yet, by the turn of the century, Britain’s empire was being challenged successfully by other nations such as France and Germany on the continent.

We consider worth reviewing the main political benchmarks under her rule since important changes took place in her colonies. Thus:

From the 1850s, Britain was the leading industrial power in the world. Superseding the early dominance of textiles, railway, construction, iron- and steel-working soon gave new impetus to the British economy by expanding territories in Africa (namely railways).

Yet, the most outstanding event after 1837 was the Great Exhibition in 1851, in which the British empire was compared to the Roman empire. It was an imperial and industrial celebration which was held in Hyde Park in London in the specially constructed Crystal

clip_image002Palace, whose profits allowed for the foundation of public works such as the Albert

3 “The Roman Empire, at its height, comprised perhaps 120 million people in an area of 2.5 million square miles. The British Empire, in 1897, comprised some 372 million people in 11 million square miles. An interesting aspect of the analogy is that the Roman Empire was long held – by the descendants

of the defeated and oppressed peoples of the British Isles – to be generally a good thing. Children in the United Kingdom are still taught that the Roman legions brought laws and roads, civilization rather than oppression, and in the second half of the nineteenth century, that was the precedent invoked to sanction the Pax Britannica(

Hall, the Science Museum, the National History Museum and the Victoria and Albert


Other important events were the Crimean War between 1854 and 1856, which at first was between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and later Britain and France were involved. During this war Britain maintained their colonial possessions.

Between 1857 and 1858, there was an Indian Mutiny between Indian soldiers (Hindu and Muslim) who opposed their British commanders following a series of insensitive military demands which disrespected traditional beliefs. The mutiny led to the end of East India Company rule in India and its replacement by direct British governmental rule.

Following the death of Albert (Victoria’s husband) in 1861, she had increasingly withdrawn from national affairs and criticism of the Queen lessened and she resumed her interest in constitutional and imperial affairs (she was created Empress of India in


Victoria’s death in January 1901 was an occasion of national mourning.

Finally, to close the century we find the Boer War (1899-1902) which started as Britain attempted to annex the Transvaal Republic in southern Africa. In December 1880, the Boers of the Transvaal revolted against British rule, defeated an imperial force and forced the British government to recognise their independence. Finally, the peace of Vereeniging in May 1902 annexed the Boer Republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State to the British Empire (which, in 1910, became part of the Union of South Africa).

Generally speaking, the nineteenth century development and administration of British colonies was focused on the consolidation of existing colonies and the expansion into new areas, especially in Africa, India and Canada. Actually, in the early nineteenth century new British colonies were to be acquired or strengthened because of their strategic value, thus Malaca and Singapore because of their trading ports of growing importance, and the settlements of Alberta, Manitobba, and the British Columbia in Canada as potential areas of British migration. The main causes for other new acquisitions were, among others, the Treaty of Amiens (1802) by adding Trinidad and Ceylon; the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) with the addition of the Cape of Good Hope; the War with the United States (1812) brought about the Canadian unity; and the first Treaty of Paris (1814) gained Tobago, Mauritius, St. Lucia and Malta.

Also, between the years 1857 and 1858 Britain acquired in India the cities of Agra, Bengal and Assam after some local wars against French influence. Perhaps the Napoleonic Wars brought about more new acquisitions to the British empire in this century than any other war, since the

Crimean War (1854-1856), the pacification programs in Africa, and some conflicts in New Zealand (against the Maoris) made little or no difference to the British empire. Yet, the most serious conflict was just about to come towards the end of the century with the War in Sudan (1884) and the Boer War (1881, 1899-1902). So, as we can see, still in the nineteenth century, Great Britain maintained her political and imperial sovereignty.

In order to control these colonies, the British government created a sophisticated system for colonial administration: the Colonial Office and Board of Trade (1895-1900). Already in the

1850s, they were ruled by legislative bodies, since the colonies continuously asked for

independence. They were separate departments with an increasing staff and a continuing policy of establishing discipline and pressure on the colonial goverments. Hence most colonial governements were left to themselves.

However, these legislative bodies governing the new settlements were soon to be replaced by an executive body which took over the financial control. This elected assembly would be represented by the figure of the governor and would be responsible for the colonial government. Therefore, these settlements became ‘crown colonies’, and were subject to direct rule, as we can see in the African and Pacific expansion where the crown colony system was established. Let us examine how this new colonial governing body was applied in the colonies of Australia, Asia and Africa.

In the Antipodes, New Zealand and Oceania were systematically colonized in the 1840s under the pressure of British missionaries. Yet, territorial disputes were brought up between the new colonists and the homeland tribes, the Maoris. Hence the Maori Wars (1840s-1860s) which eventually ended with the withdrawal of British troops and a peaceful agreement of settlement for the newcomers. In the last quarter of the century, the British empire took the control over other islands in the Pacific, again because of missionary pressure and international naval rivalry and, eventually, the Fiji Island was annexed in 1874. Three years later the governement established a British High Commission for the Western Pacific Islands (1877) as well as a protectorate in Papua (1884) and in Tonga (1900). These protectorates were soon to be governed by Australia and New Zealand.

In Asia , India was conquered and therefore, had an expansion policy. As stated previously, the suppressed Indian ‘mutiny’ (1857) gave way to the abolishment of the East India Company (1858) and, therefore, the local executive body was replaced by that of the crown. Known as ‘the brightest jewel in the British crown’ (a Disraeli’s

phrase), India was a strategic settlement for the British empire and her conquest was justified in terms of benefits and discipline. Further acquisitions (Burma, Punjab, Baluchistan) provided new crucial settlements in the area in order to set up a new route in India. Since the opening of the Suez Canal, new territories were under the influence of Britain within this route: Aden, Somaliland, territories in southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Moreover, further expansion took place with the development of the Straits settlements and the federated Malay states; Borneo (1880s), Hong Kong (1841); and adjacent territories in China, Shangai (1860, 1896), which had trading purposes.

Finally, the greatest development of the British Empire took place in Africa in the last quarter of the century. The reign of Queen Victoria brought about a great enthusiasm for a ‘similar Roman empire’, whose power might extend from the Cape of Good Hope to El Cairo. This idea fascinated the British citizens who, in Queen Victoria’s two jubilees, offered colonial conferences, the search of new areas of opportunity, and the discoveries and wars for mining wealth in South Africa. In fact, the spread of the British empire comprised by the nineteenth century nearly a quarter of the land surface and more than a quarter of the population of the world.

From 1882 onwards Britain controlled Egypt and Alexandria (by force), and a joint administration half British-half Egyptian was established in the Sudan area in 1899. Also, on the western coast the Royal Niger Company began the expansion over the area of Nigeria. By then there were two main British Companies: the Imperial British East Africa Company, which operated in nowadays Kenya and Uganda, and the British South Africa Company in the areas now called Rhodesia, Zambia, and Malawi. Hence the missionary migrations to Africa in the eventual transfer of these territories to the crown.

2.3.3. The dismantling of the British empire: XXth and XXIst century.

Therefore, by 1897 the Empire seemed invincible, but only two years later British confidence was shaken by the news of defeats at Magersfontein and Spion Kop in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Hence, after the Boer War (1902), the countries of the overseas empire wanted a greater measure of self-government, and those and other battles were lost. Yet, eventually the war was won, and it took two world wars to bring the British Empire to its end. Those wars also

were won, with the loyal help of troops from the overseas empire (more than 200,000 of whom were killed in World War I alone)”.

After a century of almost unchallenged political security, Britain perceived the aggressive militarisation of the new German state and Hitler’s empire as a threat. Britain and, therefore, her empire, lost a large part of a generation of young men in the First World War. Yet, after the First World War the British Empire continued to grow and, in addition to the self-governing territories of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, it annexed large tracts of Africa, Asia and parts of the Caribbean. Also, following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Britain included Iraq and Palestine.

Soon nationalist movements were to be strongly felt in India, Egypt and in the Arab mandated territories. In 1922 Egypt was granted a degree of independence by Britain and full independence in 1936. Similarly, Iraq gained full independence in 1932. On the other hand, India achieved its independence in 1947 after the movement of Indian nationalism, boosted by the 1919 Amritsar Massacre. In 1931, the British Parliament, by means of the Statue of Westminster, recognized the legislative independence and equal status under the Crown of its former dominions and the Irish Free State within a British Commonwealth of Nations. The resultant relationship is sometimes thought to have been a precursor to the post-war British Commonwealth.

During the Second World War, Britain’s civilian population found themselves under severe domestic restrictions, and occasionally bombing. Also, conflict accelerated many social and political developments and growing nationalist movements impacted both on the British rule of Empire and on the individual nations of the British Isles. Hence, most of the remaining imperial possessions were granted independence, for instance, fifty years after Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, India was cut in two to become the Commonwealth countries of India and Pakistan.

The most recent development in the dismantling of the British Empire was the restoration to Chinese rule, under a declaration signed in 1984, of the former British crown colony of Hong Kong, on the southeastern coast of China, where the Union Jack was finally and symbolically lowered on July 1, 1997. So, one by one, the subject peoples of the British Empire have entered a postcolonial era, in which they must reassess their national identity, their history and literature, and their relationship with the land and language of their former masters.


With this background in mind, Chapter 3 shall approach the Commonwealth member states in terms of their cultural diversity and development of linguistic varieties individually as it is expected from the association of 54 different states which consult, co-operate and work together with the aim of promoting international understanding and world peace. “Diversity is central to the Commonwealth. Membership includes people of many different races and origins, encompasses every state of economic development, and comprises a rich variety of cultures, traditions and institutions” (Secretariat, 2003).

So, we shall try to present an overview of the Commonwealth cultural and linguistic variety by addressing (1) the Commonwealth principles and values, and how these principles and values are present in (2) the countries which founded the Commonwealth, namely (a) Canada, (b) Australia, (c) New Zealand, (d) South Africa, (e) India, and (f) the Caribbean Islands.

3.1. The Commonwealth: principles and values.

The Commonwealth strengths lie in the following principles and values. First of all, among the three most important principles we include (Secretariat, 2003): first, “the combination of the diversity of its members with their shared inheritance in language, culture and the rule of law”; secondly, “seeking consensus through consultation and the sharing of experience”; and finally, “sharing a commitment to certian fundamental principles set out in a Declaration of Commonwealth Principles agreed at the Singapore meeting in 1971 and in followi-up Declarations and Communiqués.”

On the other hand, “Commonwealth ‘values’ are the principles that bind Commonwealth member countries together and they derive from various Commonwealth Declarations and Principles agreed upon at various Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGMs). These values are enshrined in the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration (Zimbabwe), which enshrines common interests and a set of basic principles. At Millbrook (New Zealand) in 1995, Heads of Government adopted an action programme to fulfil their commitment to the Harare Principles. At Coolum (Australia) in 2002, Heads of Government committed to ‘The Coolum Declaration on the Commonwealth in the 21st Century: Continuity and Renewal’.”(Secretariat,


Then, Commonwealth values include: “respect for diversity, human dignity and opposition to all forms of discrimination; adherence to democracy, rule of law, good governance, freedom of expression and the protection of human rights; elimination of poverty and the promotion of

people -centred development; and finally, international peace and security, the rule of international law and opposition to terrorism” (Secretariat, 2003).

“The adherence to democracy, rule of law, good governance, freedom of expression and the protection of human rights is reflected through the capacity building programme to strengthen civil society organisations;” and by means of documenting good practice. For instance, “the Foundation has produced a document ‘NGO Guidelines for Good Policy and Practice’ to guide civil society organisations and is available in ten languages.” It is worth mentioning that all these states have at some time been under British rule so in some of them, English is the first language; others, with several different languages of their own, find English the most convenient means of communication.

3.2. The Commonwealth: cultural and linguistic diversity.

3.2.1. Canada.

As mentioned above, Canada was given the dominion status in 1867, and by the time of the Commonwealth founding, it was one of the state members. It is regarded as a transplanted society (Maxwell, 1982) as well as Australia and New Zealand since the majority of its population is of European origin and had to change the already established cultural habits in the new land. So, it retained a non-indigenous language.

Historically speaking, the first settlement in Canada traces back to the 16th century under the figure of the Frenchman Jacques Cartir. Therefore, until the eighteenth century most European immigrants who arrived in Canada came namely from France in opposition to the North American coast, which received English, Irish and Scottish population. Similarly, it is said that the bulk of Canada’s immigrants arrived namely from Continental Europe in the twentieth and twenty-first century.

In linguistic terms, Canada has developed a type of Canadian English which is difficult for us to understand since it is different from other North American varieties. It is regarded as a homogeneous language, which has not been affected by its nearest linguistic neighbour, American English. The differences lie mainly in vocabulary and pronunciation, since Canadian spelling preserves some British forms (theatre, centre, colour, behaviour) and there are no distinctive grammar features. We also highlight the fact that there are also several words of Canadian origin (chesterfield).

Regarding its cultural diversity, Canada is nowadays still headed by British population (around

45%), followed by French (25%) and the rest (30%) belong to other nationalities rather than

British or French. The influence of French colonization is still present in culture, since America has influenced this country through the media. Yet, the French-speaking population, namely set up in Quebec, has a powerful separatist movement which addresses their affiliation to France. No literature works are worth mentioning within the neo-colonialism movement in Canada.

3.2.2. Australia.

Following Britannica (2004), “Australia has long been inhabited by Aboriginals, who arrived

40,000–60,000 years ago. Estimates of the population at the time of European settlement in

1788 range from 300,000 to more than 1,000,000. Widespread European knowledge of

Australia began with 17th-century explorations. The Dutch landed in 1616 and the British in

1688, but the first large-scale expedition was that of James Cook in 1770, which established Britain’s claim to Australia. The first English settlement, at Port Jackson (1788), consisted mainly of convicts and seamen; convicts were to make up a large proportion of the incoming settlers.”

“By 1859 the colonial nuclei of all Australia’s states had been formed, but with devastating effects on the indigenous peoples, whose population declined sharply with the introduction of European diseases and weaponry. Britain granted its colonies limited self-government in the mid 19th century, and an act federating the colonies into a commonwealth was passed in 1900. Australia fought alongside the British in World War I, notably at Gallipoli, and again in Wor ld War II, preventing Australia’s occupation by the Japanese.”

“It joined the U.S. in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Since the 1960s the government has sought to deal more fairly with the Aboriginals, and a loosening of immigration restrictions has led to a more heterogeneous population. Constitutional links allowing British interference in government were formally abolished in 1968, and Australia has assumed a leading role in Asian and Pacific affairs. During the 1990s it experienced several debates about giving up its British ties and becoming a republic.”

In linguistic terms, Australian English starts in the second half of the eighteenth century when pidgin English appeared due to the interrelationship of settlers and Aboriginals. The Aboriginal vocabulary of Australian English has become one of the trademarks of the national language (boomerang, jumbuck –sheep-). Yet, the number of Aboriginal words in Australian English is quite small and confined to the naming of plants, trees, animals, and place-names. Nowadays, though English is the official language, Australian English is known for its preserving nature, since it still keeps eighteenth and nineteenth-century lexis from the European Continent (Wessex, Scotland, Ireland). Moreover, it has no regional variation of accent.

Regarding its cultural diversity, since it is “the smallest continent and sixth largest country (in area) on Earth, lying between the Pacific and Indian oceans,” its population was about

19,702,000 in 2002. Among them, “most Australians are descendants of Europeans. The largest

nonwhite minority is the Australian Aboriginals. The Asian portion of the population has grown as a result of relaxed immigration policy. Australia is rich in mineral resources, s the country’s economy is basically free-enterprise; its largest components include finance, manufacturing, and trade. Formally a constitutional monarchy, its chief of state is the British monarch, represented by the governor-general. In reality it is a parliamentary state with two legislative houses; its head of government is the prime minister.”

3.2.3. New Zealand.

New Zealand was originally inhabited by Polinesian population which traced back to the early Christian centuries. In the eighteenth century it was explored by J. Cook between 1769-1770 and soon it was a target for European settlement in spite of some indigenous Maori resistance. Then the 19th century saw the arrival of catholic missionaries and English protestants and the reorganization of New Zealand started. Subsequently, the two races achieved considerable harmony. Yet, unlike Australia it was a free colony, as in practice it has been self-determining since 1901.

In linguistic terms, the New Zealand language has been influenced by its Australian neighbours (bush lawyer, bush telegraph) as well as by the Scottish language, namely in family names (Dunedin, Murray). From Australia, many Zealanders were influenced by the native Maori culture, hence many maori words were borrowed on making reference to animals, plants and local trees (kiwi). In addition, Zealanders created their own vocabulary for some places, roads and local places (lines).

Regarding its cultural diversity, New Zealand still has a certain attachment to Britain that is unheard of Australia (BBC news) and contemporary population seem hesitant to use the pragmatic initiative used in the eighteenth century. The cultural background in New Zealand is actually conditioned by a society which is egalitarian in the extreme and shows a tendency towards conformity. Yet, today Maori people are determined to make their contribution to increase their self-respect and confidence in their own culture. Actually, Maori language is offered in many secondary schools as an optional second language.

3.2.4. South Africa.

Before British colonization, certain highlands of East Africa attracted settlers from Europe since these colonies were confined to coastal enclaves. British penetration of the area began at Zanzibar in the late 19th century and before WWI most of the European conquest of Africa had been accomplished. Actually, in 1888 the British East Africa Company established claims to territory in what is now Kenya. British protectorates were subsequently established over the sultanate of Zanzibar and the kingdom of Buganda (now Uganda) and in 1919 Britain was awarded the former German territory of Tanganyika as a League of Nations mandate. Yet, all these territories achieved political independence in the 1960s.

In linguistic terms, the development of the English language in Africa is related to the term

‘pidgin’, hence ‘pidgin English’ is commonly spoken in Africa. Traditionally, pidgin languages are defined as those auxiliary languages that have no native speakers and are used for communicating between people who have no common language. Actually, we find two different English versions in Africa: East and West African English.

On the one hand, East African Commonwealth countries had no contact with Britain until the early twentieth century when they were colonized, so the use of English was limited to military and administrative vocabulary (white administrators and army officials), still used in the East African states of Kenya. Yet, in Uganda and Tanzania, Swahili is the used as lingua franca and goes through ethnic and political boundaries whereas English is the main language of education (secondary, tertiary). So, we may say that the language of Black Africa is pidgin English, not standard British or American English (Uganda, Zambia, Simbabwe).

On the other hand, West African Commonwealth countries use pidgin English as a result of the slave experience of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For instance, in Sierra Leona, pidgin English has evolved into ‘Krio’, a mixture of English and an African language (Yoruba), with includes Portuguese elements, which is used everywhere. Brought by traders and missionaries to Nigeria and Cameroon, it influenced the local pidgin. Recent governments are trying to establish Krio as the national language of Sierra Leone, even though English is still the official language.

Regarding its cultural diversity, we highlight the fact that in all African countries the majority of the population is indigenous, except in those African countries which belong to the Commonwealth and have European population (Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya). Hence, the most common population group within these countries are the ethnic groups, that is, tribes. This means that ethnic groups have in common a sense of culture and identity, and therefore, of distinct religion and language. The new African nations that emerged after the mid-20th century

were not based on the traditional units of the pre-colonial era. African natural resources (mining, safari hunting) have attracted people of many different cultures speaking a variety of languages.

3.2.5. India .

Historically speaking, India is the home of one of the world’s oldest and most influential civilisations of South Asia. By the early seventeenth century, the East India Company was founded and attracted many European visitors up to the eighteenth century. In linguistic terms, it was in the nineteenth century that, at the highest peak of the British empire, there was a flood of English administrators, educators, army officers and missionaries who spread the English language throughout the sub-continent. Hence by the turn of the century English had become the prestige language of India.

After a century, the Jewel of the Crown had added many Indian words into the English language, so as to be able to express different concepts. In addition, Indian English possesses a number of distinctive stylistic fatures, some of which are inspired by local languages and some by the influence of English educational traditions (change of heart vs. God is merciful). Nowadays, even after Indian’s independence (1947), there are more speakers of English in India than in Britain (over 70 million). English became the official language of everyday life at any sphere. It is worth noting that, though the speakers of English belonged to the educated ruling elite, English is taught at every stage of education in all the states of the country.

Regarding its cultural diversity, India is regarded as a subcontinent rather than a country. Its wide range of races, languages and religions, art and culture show the cultural wealth that has developed over many centuries. Yet, there are still strong divisive influences such as caste, the status of untouchability and linguistic chauvinism. Another important aspect is that over 80 per cent of the country’s total population are Hindus, and also, that Hinduism is the unifying factor that has kept the large mass of the peoples of India together.

3.2.6. The Caribbean Islands.

The Commonwealth Caribbean Islands.have a distinctive history. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (2004) states that “permanently influenced by the experiences of colonialism and slavery, the Caribbean has produced a collection of societies that are markedly different in population composition from those in any other region of the world. Lying on the sparsely settled periphery of an irregularly populated continent, the region was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in

1492. Thereafter, it became the springboard for the European invasion and domination of the

Americas, a transformation that historian D. W. Meinig has aptly described as the “radical reshaping of America.”

“Beginning with the Spanish and Portuguese and continuing with the arrival more than a century later of other Europeans, the indigenous peoples of the Americas experienced a series of upheavals. The European intrusion abruptly interrupted the pattern of their historical development and linked them inextricably with the world beyond the Atlantic Ocean. It also severely altered their physical environment, introducing both new foods and new epidemic diseases. As a result, the native Indian populations rapidly declined and virtually disappeared from the Caribbean, although they bequeathed to the region a distinct cultural heritage that is still seen and felt.”

“During the sixteenth century, the Caribbean region was significant to the Spanish empire. In the seventeenth century, the English, Dutch, and French established colonies. By the eighteenth century, the region contained colonies that were vitally important for all of the European powers because the colonies generated great wealth from the production and sale of sugar. The early English colonies, peopled and controlled by white settlers, were microcosms of English society, with small yeoman farming economies based mainly on tobacco and cotton. A major transformation occurred, however, with the establishment of the sugar plantation system.”

“To meet the system’s enormous manpower requirements, vast numbers of black African slaves were imported throughout the eighteenth century, thereby reshaping the region’s demographic, social, and cultural profile. Although the white populations maintained their social and political preeminence, they became a numerical minority in all of the islands. Following the abolition of slavery in the mid-nineteenth century, the colonies turned to imported indentured labor from India, China, and the East Indies, further diversifying the region’s culture and society. The result of all these immigrations is a remarkable cultural heterogeneity in contemporary Caribbean society.”

“The abolition of slavery was also a major watershed in Caribbean history in that it initiated the long, slow process of enfranchisement and political control by the nonwhite majorities in the islands. The early colonies enjoyed a relatively great amount of autonomy through the operations of their local representative assemblies. Later, however, for ease of administration and to facilitate control of increasingly assertive colonial representative bodies, the British adopted a system of direct administration known as crown colony government in which British appointed governors wielded nearly autocratic power. The history of the colonies from then until 1962 when the first colonies became independent is marked by the rise of popular movements and labor organizations and the emergence of a generation of politicians who

assumed positions of leadership when the colonial system in the British Caribbean was dismantled.”

“Despite shared historical and cultural experiences and geographic, demographic, and economic similarities, the islands of the former British Caribbean empire remain diverse, and attempts at political federation and economic integration both prior to and following independence have foundered. Thus, the region today is characterized by a proliferation of mini-states, all with strong democratic traditions and political systems cast in the Westminster parliamentary mold, but all also with forceful individual identities and interests.”

In linguistic terms, we may highlight the fact that the tiny Indian population, once native to the region, speak creolized forms of the invading European languages, and from this merging we obtained a Caribbean English and a Caribbean culture. Of all the varieties of Caribbean English, the most appealing is the Jamaican creole , defined as a language that has evolved from pidgins used by speakers of unintelligible people. So, we may differenciate two different types of language: on the one hand, standard English, used in newspapers and news reporting, engages in conversation, journalists; and on the other hand, Jamaican English, which is virtually unintelligible to the outsider since this is the language of the streets (originally oral, recently written).

Regarding its cultural diversity, we may say that the Caribbean is fragmented since each island has its own strong loyalties and traditions. For example, Trinidad Island is heavily influenced by French, Spanish, Creole and Indian traditions. The most English of the islands are Jamaica, Antigua and Barbados. Nowadays, the Caribbean population is namely African and Afro- European in origin. Despite size, ancestry, language, history and population differences, the countries of the Caribbean share a common culture, the result of their parallel experiences as plantation colonies for distant European economic and politic powers. Jamaica has alwasy had a lively independent culture, namely reflected in this Third World nationalism and reggae music as the result of a mixed multi-cultural heritage.



With this background in mind, we are ready to address in Chapter 4 the intercultural influences and manifestations of subject peoples of the British Empire who have reassesed one by one their national identity, their history and literature, and their relationship with the land and language of

their former masters ( The already mentioned respect for diversity, human dignity and opposition to all forms of discrimination is reflected through the creation of foundation works on gender equality issues; supporting the work of various Commonwealth professional associations; promotion of cultural diversity by supporting various cultural and arts awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Commonwealth Arts and Crafts Awards, the Commonwealth Short Story Competition and the Commonwealth Photographic Awards.

It is within this Commonwealth literary background that we shall approach the novels of (1) Edward Morgan Forster, (2) Doris Lessing and (3) Nadine Gordimer in terms of life, main works and style so as to frame their lives in an appropriate social and political context to make him coincide with the late consequences of the British imperialism.

4.1. Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970).

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London on January 1 (1879) as the son of an architect, who died before his only child was two years old. His childhood and much of his adult life was dominated by his mother and his aunts, though it was the legacy of her paternal great-aunt (Marianne Thornton) who gave later Forster the freedom to travel and to write. As a teenager he attended Tonbridge School where he suffered from the cruelty of his classmates. Then he attended King’s College, Cambridge (1897-1901), where he met members of the later formed Bloomsbury group (hence his friendship with Virginia Woolf). There he felt free to follow his own intellectual inclinations and gained a sense of individual uniqueness.

After graduating and travelling in Italy and Greece with his mother, he began to write essays and short stories for the liberal Independent Review and by 1905 he had spent several months in Germany as a tutor. Actually, these classical and Mediterranean countries would prepare the ground for his first novel, Where Angels Fear To Tread (1905) and also would make him lecture on Italian art and history for the Cambridge Local Lectures Board (1906). Next year he published The Longest Journey (1907), which was followed by A Room with a View (1908), based partly on the material from extended holidays in Italy with his mother.

Two years later, he wrote Howards End (1910), a story that centered on an English country house and dealt with the clash between two families, one interested in art and literature, the other only in business. The book not only brought together the themes of money, business and culture, but also established Forster’s reputation. Then Forster embarked upon a new novel with a homosexual theme, Maurice, which shows the picture of British attitudes. It was revised

several times during his life, and finally published posthumously in 1971. Forster used to hide his personal life from public discussion, but in 1930 he had a relationship with a London policeman. This important contact continued after the marriage of his London friend.

Between the years 1912 and 1913 Forster travelled in India and during WWI, Forster spent some years in Alexandria, where he joined the Red Cross doing civilian war work. From 1914 to 1915 he worked for the National Gallery in London. After WWI, Forster returned to India in

1921, where he worked for a time as a private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas. It was there, in India , that he set the scene of his masterwork A Passage to India (1924), an account of the country under British rule. It was Forster’s last novel since he decided to devote himself to other activities. Thus, for the remaining forty-six years of his life Forster wrote two biographies Goldsworthy Lowes Dickenson (1934) and Marianne Thornton (1956); the essay collections Abinger Harvest (1936) and Two Cheers for Democracy (1951), a portrait of India with commentary The Hill of Devi (1953); and a posthumous publication was the collection of short stories The Life to Come (1972).

Regarding his contributions, Forster colaborated with reviews and essays to numerous journals, most notably the Listener and he was an active member of PEN. In 1934 he became the first president of the National Council for Civil Liberties, and after his mother’s death in 1945, he was elected an honorary fellow of King’s and lived there for the remainder of his life. In 1946 his old college, King’s College, gave him an honorary fellowship, which enabled him to make his home in Cambridge. Three years later (1949) Forster refused a knighthood. Yet, he was made a Companion of Honour in 1953 and in 1969 he accepted an Order of Merit. Forster died on June 7, 1970.

Broadly speaking, Forster was a noted English author and critic, member of Bloomsbury group and friend of Virginia Woolf. After gaining fame as a novelist, he mainly wrote short stories and non-fiction, and among his five important novels four appeared before World War I: Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), and Howards End (1910), since A Passage to India (1924) was published after WWI.

In his works his major concern was that individuals should connect ‘the prose with the passion’ within themselves. Since he was a novelist, essayist, social and literary critic, his work is primarily linked to a realistic mode. Forster often criticized in his books one of his favourite themes: Victorian middle class attitudes and British colonialism through strong woman characters. Hence his dominant theme is the habitual conformity of people to unexamined social standards and conventions, for instance, shown in Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and A Room with a View (1908). However, Forster’s characters were not one-dimensional heroes and

villains, and except his devotion to such values as tolerance and sense of comedy, he was uncommitted.

Other relevant themes for him include homosexuality, clearly shown in the English domestic comedy Maurice (1971), which was published posthumously; the theme of continuity and the future of England in The Longest Journey (1907) is reflected in a partly autobiographicl story of the artist as a young man that predates Joyce’s classic with a weak idealistic hero (Rickie Elliot); the need for men and women to achieve a satisfactory life, as it is reflected in Howards End (1910). This ambitious novel, which brought Forster his major success, centers on an English country house and deals with the clash between two families, one interested in art and literature, the other only in business. The book brought together the themes of money, business and culture.

On the other hand, within his favourite theme, Forster’s experiences in India, we include A Passage to India (1924) and The Hill of Devil (1953). Both of them offer an account of his life in India , but from different perspectives. Thus, The Hill of Devil (1953) shows a negative perspective against the vaster scale of India and is told through seriousness and trthfulness, represented mainly by the British officials (administrators, visitors) and their wives, and the local Indian army. On the contrary, A Passage to India (1924), is usually regarded as a masterpiece not only to its linguistic features, but also to the approach to its subject matters, such as the values of truthfulness and kindness, and a reconciliation of humanity with nature. There is a subtle symbolism which highlights the religious dimension.

Regarding his style, we may say it is a consistently light and witty style, with a mix of irony and comedy. These features, together with his personal way to express his view of life, made him achieve relevance for generations who do not conform to social conventions. He mainly wrote about the importance of beauty, personal relations, the quest for harmony and non-conventional attitudes. His characters are elusive but harmonic and the reader may notice a mysterious attitude beneath his real characters’ life.

4.2. Doris Lessing (1919-).

Doris Lessing was born Doris May Tayler in Kernashah, Persia (now Iran) to British parents on

22 October, 1919. Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia and her mother had been a nurse. Lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, her family moved to Southern Africa where she spent her childhood on her father’s farm in what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

She lived in Rhodesia until 1949 and, when her second marriage ended, she moved to London and settled there as a full-time writer.

There she wrote her first novel, The Grass is Singing (1950), which explores the complacency and shallowness of white colonial society in Southern Africa and established Lessing as a talented young novelist. Her African experience, trying to live an Edwardian life among savages, provided her with the appropriate material.The story is about the relationship between a white woman (Mary Turner), and her black houseboy (Moses). The main theme of this novel is the great taboo of colour which represents the barrier between the black and white races, and also the tragic results (death). Lessing addresses this theme as an important issue in the social and political upheavals of the 20th century regarding culture and society ( intense anger, catastropic outcomes, and social injustice).

After her first novel, she was devoted for nearly ten years to the five books in the ‘Children of Violence’ series (1952-69), which are strongly influenced by Lessing’s rejection of a domestic family role and her involvement with communism. The five books display her concern about politics and society in terms of reactions against her white, colonial, middle -class background in both its social and political aspects. In a sense, the novels are autobiographical in many respects, telling the story of Martha Quest (1952), a girl growing up in Africa who marries young despite her desperate desire to avoid the life her mother has led. The second book in the series, A Proper Marriage (1954), describes the unhappiness of the marriage and Martha’s eventual rejection of it. The sequel, A Ripple from the Storm (1958), is very much a nove l of ideas, exploring Marxism and Martha’s increasing political awareness as well as of love for people. By the time that this book was written, however, Lessing had become disillusioned with communism and had left the party.

Her next novel, The Golden No tebook (1962), made Lessing become firmly identified with the feminist movement. The novel concerns Anna Wulf, a writer caught in a personal and artistic crisis, who sees her life compartmentalised into various roles (woman, lover, writer, political activist). Her diaries, written in different coloured notebooks, each correspond to a different part of herself. Anna eventually suffers a mental breakdown and it is only through this disintegration that she is able to discover a new ‘wholeness’ which she writes about in the final notebook.

The attack for being ‘unfeminine’ in her depiction of female anger and aggression and the pressures of social conformity on the individual and mental breakdown revitalised her writing about the political theme and published Landlocked (1965) and Four-Gated City (1969). These two works gave the Children of Violence an optimistic ending. Her interest and radical visions of the self was something that Lessing returned to in her next two novels, Briefing for a Decent into Hell (1971) and The Summer Before the Dark (1973). Briefing for a Decent into Hell is a

story about an inner space fiction dealing with madness in which a man, who is found wandering the streets of London, had no memory of a ‘normal’ life, while Kate, the central character of The Summer Before the Dark , achieves a kind of enlightenment through what doctors would describe as a breakdown.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Doris Lessing began to explore more fully the quasi-mystical self-insight and turned almost exclusively to writing fantasy and science fiction developing ideas which she had touched on towards the end of ‘Children of Violence’, thus inner-space fiction with cosmic fantasies (Briefing for a Decent into Hell, 1971), dreamscapes and other dimensions (Memoirs of a Survivor, 1974), and science fiction probings of higher planes of existence (Canopus in Argos: Archives, 1979-1983). These reflect Lessing’s interest, since the

1960s, in Idries Shah, whose writings on Sufi mysticism stress the evolution of consciousness

and the belief that individual liberation can come about only if people understand the link between their own fates and the fate of society.

In the 1980s, Lessing’s other novels include The Marriages between Zones, Three, Four and Five (1980), a story about the nature of the kinds of relationships men and women must make and the kinds of societies that must be developed. Also, we include two novels under the pseudonym Jane Somers (The Diary of a Good Neighbour, 1983, in which she made a return to realist fiction, and If the Old Could…, 1984). Also, The Good Terrorist (1985) and The Fifth Child (1988). These recent novels have continued to confront taboos and challenge preconceptions, generating many different and conflicting critical opinions.

For instance, in The Good Terrorist (1985), Lessing returned to the political arena, through the story of a group of political activists who set up a squat in London (the book was awarded the WH Smith Literary Award); and The Fifth Child (1988), which is also concerned with alienation and the dangers inherent in a closed social group. The book depicts a family who lives within the hedonism and excesses of the 1960s, childbearing and domestic bliss, and whose fifth child, however, emerges as a malevolent, troll- like and angry figure who quickly disrupts the family idyll.

Other several nonfiction works include the acclaimed first volume of her autobiography, Under My Skin (1994), which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1995, and was followed by a second volume, Walking in the Shade: Volume II of My Autobiography 1949-1962 (1997). She was made a Companion of Honour by the British Government in 1999, and is President of Booktrust, the educational charity that promotes books and reading. Lessing’s recent fiction includes Ben, in the World (2000), a sequel to the The Fifth Child , and, more recently, The Sweetest Dream (2002), which follows the fortunes of a family through the twentieth century, set in London during the 1960s and contemporary Africa. In the same year she received the

David Cohen British Literature Prize (2001) and two years later she wrote her latest book, the grandmothers, a collection of four short novels centred on an unconventional extended family appeared in 2003.

At present, Doris Lessing lives in London. She is now widely regarded as one of the most important post-war writers in English. Her novels, short stories and essays have focused on a wide range of twentieth-century issues and concerns, from the politics of race that she confronted in her early novels set in Africa, to the politics of gender which lead to her adoption by the feminist movement, to the role of the family and the individual in society, explored in her space fiction of the late 1970s and early 1980s

As mentioned above, Lessing’s fiction is deeply autobiographical, much of it emerging out of her experiences in Africa. Drawing upon her childhood memories and her serious engagement with politics and social concerns, Lessing has written about the clash of cultures, the gross injustices of racial inequality, the struggle among opposing elements within an individuals own personality, and the conflict between the individual conscience and the collective good. Her stories and novellas set in Africa, published during the fiftie s and early sixties, decry the dispossession of black Africans by white colonials, and expose the sterility of the white culture in southern Africa. In 1956, in response to Lessing’s courageous outspokenness, she was declared a prohibited alien in both Southern Rhodesia and South Africa.

Over the years, Lessing has attempted to accommodate what she admires in the novels of the nineteenth century to the demands of twentieth-century ideas about consciousness and time. After writing the ‘Children of Violence’ series (1951-1959), a formally conventional bildungsroman (novel of education) about the growth in consciousness of her heroine, Martha Quest, Lessing broke new ground with The Golden Notebook (1962), a daring narrative experiment, in which the multiple selves of a contemporary woman are rendered in astonishing depth and detail.

4.3. Nadine Gordimer (1923-).

Nadine Gordimer was born into a well- off family in Springs, Transvaal, a small gold-mining town in South Africa outside Johannesburg (the setting for Gordimer’s first novel, The Lying Days, 1953). Her father was a Jewish jeweler and her mother of British descent, the latter being a dominant influence on her life since from her early childhood, Gordimer was often kept at home by a mother who thought she had a heart disease. As a child, Gordimer witnessed how the white minority increasingly weakened the rights of the black majority so, for these two reasons,

she began writing at the age of nine. Gordimer was educated in a convent school and spent a year at Witwaterstrand University (Johannesburg) without taking a degree. Since then she has been devoted to her writing in South Africa and has lived in Johannesburg since 1948.

Her first short story, ‘Come Again Tomorrow’, was published at the age of fifteen in the children’s section of the liberal Johannesburg magazine Forum and during her twenties, her stories appeared in many local magazines. For instance, her first collection of short stories, Face to Face: Short Stories (1949), in which Gordimer has revealed the psychological consequences of a racially divided society. In 1951 the New Yorker accepted a story, publishing her ever since. Hence the short story collection The Soft Voice of the Serpent and other Stories (1952), and her novel The Lying Days (1953) was based largely on the author’s own life and depicted a white girl, Helen, and her growing disaffection toward the narrow-mindlessness of a small-town life.

Other works in the 1950s and 1960s include her early short story collections Six Feet of the Six (1956), and the novels Not for Publication (1965); A World of Strangers (1958), in which she used the perspective of an outsider coming to South Africa (disillusion, fragmented nature of life); Occasion for Loving (1963), which was concerned with South Africa’s cruel racial law through an illicit love affair between a black man and a white woman; and The Late Bourgeois World (1966). In these novels Gordimer studied the master-servant relations, spiritual and sexual paranoias of colonialism, and the shallow liberalism of her privileged white compatriots.

In the 1970s we highlight her novels A Guest of Honour (1970), which examines the problem of new independence in an unidentified African country; Livingstone’s Companions (1971), a story in which the historical context of the racial divided society; The Conservationist (1974), with which Gordimer won early international recognition for her short stories and novels. In it Gordimer juxtaposed the world of a wealthy white industrialist with the rituals and mythology of Zulus; also, her novel Burger’s Daughter (1979), which was written during the aftermath of Soweto uprising. In the story a daughter analyzes her relationship to her father, a martyr of the antiapartheid movement. She was also prolific in her essays, thus On the Mines (1973), making reference to her birthplace and literary criticism The Black Interpreters (1973), being a study of indigenous African writing.

In the 1980s she wrote July’s People (1981), a futuristic novel about a white family feeing from war-torn Johannesburg into the country, where they seek refuge with their African servant in his village; and also her short story collections, which include: an ‘Oral History’ from A Soldiers’s Embrace (1980), in which Gordimer examines coolly the actions of her protagonist, linking the tragic events in the long tradition of colonial policy. In the background of the story is the war of independence in Zimbabwe (1966-1980), where she uses the mopane tree as a symbol of life

and death; Something Out There (1984), and Jump and Other Stories (1991). Later on, in her novel The House Gun (1998) Gordimer explored the complexities of the violence ridden post- apartheid society through a murder trial, where two white privileged liberals, Harald and Claudia Lindgard, face the fact that their architect-son, Duncan, has killed his friend Carl Jesperson.

By the turn of the century she wrote The Pickup (2001), whose basic setting reminds in some points the famous film Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1962), in which starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo, start a love affair, though they belong to different cultures. The main themes are the background that separates them, sex crossing all the cultural barriers, the striving for money and success, the good things of life that the West can offer, and the woman’s maturation. Finally, her latest book, Loot and Other Stories (2003), is a collection of ten short stories widely varied in theme and place.

In short, we have seen how Ms. Gordimer rose to world fame for her novels and short stories that stunned the literary world and made her win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. In addition to ther twelve novels, ten collections of short stories and essays on topics including apartheid and writing, Gordimer’s credits include screenplays for television dramas based on her own short stories (1981-82), the script for the BBC film “Frontiers” (1989), and television documentaries, notably collaborating with her son Hugo Cassirer on the television film Choosing Justice: Allan Boesak. Winner of eleven literary awards and fourteen honorary degrees, her most recent novel is entitled “The House Gun” and a documentary film entitled “Hanging on a Sunrise”.

She was a founding member of Congress of South African Writers, and even at the height of the apartheid regime, she never considered going into exile. Actually, since 1948 Gordimer has lived in Johannesburg. She has also taught in the USA in several universities during the 1960s and ‘70s. Gordimer has written books of non-fiction on South African subjects. Hence most of Nadine Gordimer’s works deal with the moral and psychological tensions of her racially divided home country.


Literature, and therefore, literary language is one of the most salient aspect of educational activity. In classrooms all kinds of literary language (poetry, drama, novel, prose, periodicals – newspapers, pamphlets-), either spoken or written, is going on for most of the time. Yet, handling literary productions in the past makes relevant the analysis of the Commonwealth

literature and, in particular, in English-speaking countries, originally colonies of the British empire, as reflected in the three authors under study (namely Africa and India). Hence it makes sense to examine the historical background of the Commonwealth so as to provide a particular period of time with an appropriate context (imperialism, post-colonial literature).

Currently, action research groups attempt to bring about change in classroom learning and teaching through a focus on literary production under two premises. First, because they believe learning is an integral aspect of any form of activity and second, because education at all levels must be conceived in terms of literature and history. The basis for these assumptions is to be found in an attempt, through the use of historical events, to develop understanding of students’ shared but diverse social and physical environment. This means that literary productions are an analytic tool and that teachers need to identify the potential contributions and potential limitations of students before we can make good use of the historical events which frame the literary period.

So, the Commonwealth may be easily approached to students by familiar issues, such as racism in South Africa (apartheid), the Gibraltar question, India as the Jewel of the Crown (drawn from contemporary novels, such as The Jungle Book (1894) or historical figures such as Indira Ghandi) , by establishing a paralelism with the Spanish one (age, literature forms, events). Since literature may be approached in linguistic terms, regarding form and function (morphology, lexis, structure, form) and also from a cross-curricular perspective (Sociology, History, English, French, Spanish Language and Literature), Spanish students are expected to know about the history of the Commonwealth and its influence in the world.

In addition, one of the objectives of teaching the English language is to provide good models of almost any kind of literary productions for future studies. Following van Ek & Trim (2001), ‘the learners can perform, within the limits of the resources available to them, those writing (and oral) tasks which adult citizens in general may wish, or be called upon, to carry out in their private capacity or as members of the general public’ when dealing with their future regarding personal and professional life.

Moreover, nowadays new technologies may provide a new direction to language teaching as they set more appropriate context for students to experience the target culture. Present-day approaches deal with a communicative competence model in which first, there is an emphasis on significance over form, and secondly, motivation and involvement are enhanced by means of new technologies. Hence literary productions and the history of the period may be approched in

terms of films and drama representations in class, among others, and in this case, by means of books (novels: historical, terror, descriptive), paper (essays), among others.

The success partly lies in the way literary works become real to the users. Some of this motivational force is brought about by intervening in authentic communicative events. Otherwise, we have to recreate as much as possible the whole cultural environment in the classroom by means of documentaries, history books, or their family’s stories. This is to be achieved within the framework of the European Council (1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System which establishes a common reference framework for the teaching of foreign languages where students are intended to carry out several communication tasks with specific communicative goals, for instance, how to locate a literary work within a particular historical period.

Analytic interpretation of texts in all genres should become part of every literary student’s basic competence (B.O.E., 2004). There are hidden influences at work beneath the textual surface: these may be sociocultural, inter and intratextual. The literary student has to discover these, and wherever necessary apply them in further examination. The main aims that our currently educational system focuses on are mostly sociocultural, to facilitate the study of cultural themes, as our students must be aware of their current social reality within the European framework.


Since literature reflects the main concerns of a nation at all levels, it is extremely important for students to be aware of the close relationship between History and Literature so as to understand the main plot of a novel, short story, or any other form of literary work. In this unit, we have particularly approached the issue of the Commonwealth and British Imperialism as a time of great changes, colonial expansion and wars. For the better, or for the worse.

The aim of this unit was to provide a useful introduction to the Commonwealth from a general overview regarding its cultural diversity and development of linguistic varieties as well as in terms of intercultural influences and manifestations which, as we have seen, are namely reflected in the novels of E.M. Forster, D. Lessing and N. Gordimer. In doing so, we have dealt with the entity of the Commonwealth in terms of definition; brief history regarding origins, membership, and organization, that is, its evolution as an international organization up to the present day; and also from a historical perspective so as to get a general overview of the

development and administration of the British colonial empire from the seventeenth century to the present day.

Secondly, we have approached in Chapter 3 the Commonwealth country members’ cultural diversity and development of linguistic varieties individually, but before we have examined the Commonwealth principles and values so as to provide a framework to the cultural and linguistic variety in the countries which founded the Commonwealth, namely Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and the Caribbean Islands. Finally, with this background in mind, we have approached in Chapter 4 the intercultural influences and manifestations present in the novels of E.M. Forster, D. Lessing and N. Gordimer by examining their writings in terms of their own experiences, works, themes and style.

So far, we have attempted to provide the reader in this presentation with a historical background on the vast amount of literature productions of the Commonwealth, and its further contributions up to twenty-first century. This information is relevant for language learners, even 2nd year Bachillerato students, who do not automatically establish similiarities between British, Spanish and worldwide literary works. So, learners need to have these associations brought to their attention in cross-curricular settings. As we have seen, understanding how literature developed and is reflected in our world today is important to students, who are expected to be aware of the richness of English literature, not only in Great Britain but also in other English-speaking countries.


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B.O.E. 2004. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 116/2004, de 23 de enero. Currículo de la

Educación Secundaria Obligatoria en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

B.O.E. 2004. Consejería de Educación y Cu ltura. Decreto N.º 117/2004, de 23 de enero. Currículo de

Bachillerato en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

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Magnusson, M., and Goring, R. (eds.). 1990. Cambridge Biographical Dictionary. New York: Cambridge

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Sanders, A. 1996. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. Oxford University Press.

Speck, W.A. 1998. Literature and Society in Eighteenth-Century England: Ideology Politics and Culture

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