“Manufactured By The Sun”: Eve Langley’s The Pea-Pickers on The Move

Nicholas Birns

Abstract


Eve Langley’s The Pea-Pickers is often seem as a quaint artifact of a now-vanished Australia. This paper seeks to rescue the contemporary relevance of this novel of two young women who go into the rural areas of Gippsland to pick peas, showing its pioneering attention to transgender concerns, the polyphonic panoply of its style and soundscape,. and its portrayal of a settler culture not anchored in a perilous identity but dynamically on the move. As so often in settler colony literature, though, rigidities on the issue of race—particularly the portrayal of the Muslim migrant Akbarah Khan—mar the canvas, and make Langley’s novel as emblematic of the constitutive problems of Australian literary history as of its artistic achievements. Just as Langley’s gender variance and personal nonconformity made her an outlier in the Austrlaia and New Zealand she lived in, so is her contribution to Australian literature an unfinished project.  


Keywords


Transgender; Rural Fiction; Iminality; Mobility; Modernism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/2175-8026.2016v69n2p85

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