This thesis seeks to explain the relationship between narratives by Tim Winton, established literary conventions of representing environment and the West Australian environment. It examines the myths surrounding the concepts of the city, the countryside, and the wilderness and their transferral from their European origins and subsequent adaptation to the settler society in Australia. How these processes have manifested themselves in Winton’s narratives, and how these narratives are placed within the Australia literary tradition is the focus of this thesis.
Winton’s narratives show definite preferences through their adoption and adaptation of these myths of landscape. This will be revealed in his portrayal of coastal, urban and interior environments. The contrasts between the coastal and the urban with the interior landscapes display an unease with the interior of Western Australia. Winton’s heavy reliance on established modes of representing the interior of Western Australia contrast with the less conventional, more detailed and evocative portrayals of the coastal environments of Western Australia. Winton’s narratives are revealed as decidedly within the Australian tradition of landscape representation, while simultaneously shifting the focus to a coastal environment.
The representation of environment in literature has been the subject of much debate by scholars in many fields, including literature, geography, the visual arts and history. Theorists such as Steven Bourassa and George Seddon argue that the perception of environment results in a created landscape which in turn reflects, changes or perpetuates certain myths and ideologies concerning the environment. This thesis will examine representations of the West Australian environment in narratives written by
Tim Winton and how his narratives perpetuate certain myths surrounding the West Australian environment. Some contrasts with authors such as Katharine Prichard, Peter Cowan and Randolph Stow will be made to further illuminate certain perceptions of different West Australian environmental regions. Winton’s narratives draw strongly from pre-existing notions of the Australian environment. The myths of different environments, and the way they have developed will be examined to establish general concepts surrounding the depiction of environment. How these myths are articulated and manipulated to generate plot in Cloudstreet, Blueback, Shallows, That Eye, the Sky and In the Winter Dark will then be explored. Both through the narrative description and the characters’ ‘actions’ varying values are inscribed onto different landscapes. It is this process of creating landscape that this thesis will explore.