“Albert Wendt, Existentialism and the Effects of Colonialism”

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“Albert Wendt, Existentialism and the Effects of Colonialism” “More than three-quarters of the people living in the world today have had their lives shaped by the experience of colonialism. It is easy to see how important this has been in the political and economic spheres, but its general influence on the perceptual frameworks of contemporary peoples is often less evident., Literature offers one of the most important ways in which these new perceptions are expressed and it is in their writing, and through other arts such as painting, sculpture, music and dance that the day-to-day realities experienced by colonized peoples have been most powerfully encoded and so profoundly influential” (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1). Samoan novelist Albert Wendt is one of the most influential writers in the South Pacific. With his unique narrative style, he has published a wide range of works in fiction, poetry and more recently, theoretical writing, maintaining his role as a pioneer and developer of Pacific literature. According to Paul Sharrad in his article, “Albert Wendt and the Problem of History,” much of Wendt’s writing stems from his personal endeavour to correct misconceptions of Islanders and island life perpetuated by European or ‘outsider’ writing (109). Wendt also draws on his bi-cultural upbringing between New Zealand and Samoa, both before and after independence, as a source of inspiration for his writing. Consequently, his works often provide metaphorically, historical accounts in Samoa and embody a fusion of existentialist and postcolonial tones. Wendt maintains that the experiences and reactions of the characters in his writings are applicable to anyone and are not necessarily exclusive to Samoan people and their way of life. In his own words: “These situations could happen to anyone, the people I write about just happen to be Samoan.”
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