Inverse invasions: Medievalism and colonialism in Rolf Boldrewood's A Sydney-Side Saxon

Louise D'Arcens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


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

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-182
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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