"An alien world"? : the complex ecological vision of Richard Flanagan's death of a river guide and Gould's book of fish

Carman, Jill (2009). "An alien world"? : the complex ecological vision of Richard Flanagan's death of a river guide and Gould's book of fish B.A. Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Carman, Jill
Thesis Title "An alien world"? : the complex ecological vision of Richard Flanagan's death of a river guide and Gould's book of fish
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009
Thesis type B.A. Thesis
Supervisor Gillian Whitlock
Total pages 68
Language eng
Subjects L
420200 Literature Studies
Formatted abstract

This thesis explores two novels by Richard Flanagan, Death of a River Guide and Gould's Book of Fish, in an ecocritical light. These novels are richly suggestive for reading in light of environment because, working within a specifically Tasmanian context, they both trouble the idea of nature and hold fast to it, an ambivalence I argue leads to a complex and challenging ecological vision. I begin this thesis by outlining some key contexts of the environmental movement and ecocriticism, and discuss some of the specific literary histories of the Tasmanian environment into which Flanagan's novels are writing. My examination of Death of a River Guide takes up the wilderness discourse which surrounds the landscapes of Tasmania, and also the earlier narrative mode of the Tasmanian gothic. I explore the way in which Death of a River Guide is both writing into and resisting these narrativisations of the land. The novel, I suggest, can best be understood as a mythologised "soul history" of landscape and humans alike, that both stages a surreal connectedness between human and world while maintaining space for the alienness of this world. Death of a River Guide seems to end by transcending the difficulties and ambivalences of the human's involvement in the world, but Gould's Book of Fish works to pull the human right back down into a claustrophobically close relation to this world. My reading of Gould's Book of Fish traces the expanding senses of environment in this text, following it from immediate physical surrounds to text to the world of the reader and back down into the physical once more. I conclude by discussing how the concerns of Flanagan in these texts relate to an ambivalence of ecological vision within environmentalist discourse in general.

Keyword novel writing

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - UQ staff and students only
 
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