A literary biographical exploration of the transnational literary journeys of the Australian writer Amy Witting and a Lithuanian migrant Elena Jonaitis

Colleen Smee

Abstract


An exploration of the transnational literary journeys of the Australian writer Amy Witting and a Lithuanian migrant Elena Jonaitis.
This paper explores the genesis and reflexivity of two inter-connected texts, one Elena’s Journey (1997), an autobiographical memoir of a Lithuanian migrant woman Elena Jonaitis and the other, Maria’s War (1998), a fictional novel written by the acclaimed Australian author Amy Witting. The latter text was first conceived from the oral recount of Elena Jonaitis’ experiences fleeing across Germany during World War Two. Witting, an Australian writer in a transnational setting, recognised the significance of Jonaitis’ story, even travelling to Germany to research material for a novel based on the migrant woman’s experiences. Witting subsequently decided that she was too much of ‘a born barnacle’ to write a novel underpinned by places and cultural discourses located outside Australia. Instead, Witting empowered Jonaitis, the other, a woman for whom English was a second language, to write her own story, one of ‘dispossession, endurance, love and survival.’ Soon after, Witting used the life writing of ‘the other’ to inform her own fiction, grounding her novel Maria’s War in Australia by creating the persona of an elderly migrant woman living in a retirement hostel in Sydney, who recounts her war-time experiences to a biographer. Witting commented that both books were ‘tracing the path followed by many Australian citizens and ancestors’.

Keywords


Literary Biography; Amy Witting

Full Text:

PDF

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.