Landscape and identity : Judith Wright's fragile land and haunted self

Brunet, Sandra Phoebe (1998). Landscape and identity : Judith Wright's fragile land and haunted self M.A. Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Brunet, Sandra Phoebe
Thesis Title Landscape and identity : Judith Wright's fragile land and haunted self
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1998-01-01
Thesis type M.A. Thesis
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Supervisor Leigh Dale
Total pages 131
Language eng
Subjects 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing
Formatted abstract
A consideration of Judith Wright's poetry, prose and her political activism, placed within their social and historical context, is the basis for an analysis of the haunting of the Australian landscape and self.

In this thesis I argue that Judith Wright's reference to the land and to her 'self' as haunted emanates from a multiplicity of impulses. For Wright, feelings of alienation result not only from geographical and cultural displacement but also, in the twentieth century, from increasing alienation from the natural environment. She sees the modem world as a repository for a degraded language, a damaged eco-system and a fragmented, urban self that lacks any spiritual connection with landscape or with community. Her diminishing hope for the future informs her nostalgic longing for Romantic unity with an idealised and pristine environment. Judith Wright's desire to reimagine the landscape through her writing, and her involvement in environmental and indigenous issues, are produced by a perceived need to atone for feelings of guilt which derive from the consequences of colonisation. The haunting of land and self result from the multiple disruptions of the seifs relationship with land, caused by the violent dispossession of indigenes by Europeans, Europeans whose connections with their land and their culture were severed in the process of translocation.

Wright's desire for a lost Eden does not relate to Europe's Christian Eden, but instead reflects her need to make amends for an apparently lost Eden that she imposes upon a pre-European indigenous Australia. The imposing of her image of a translocated Eden, upon an indigenous landscape reflects numerous influences and unresolved cultural differences: although intellectually she understands it is impossible to achieve a state of unity between human beings and nature, she continues to be haunted by unobtainable unity. Her poetic imagery, which reflects nostalgia for biological integration and organicism, is challenged by Muecke, Benterrak and Roe's narrative of country as a site of "discontinuous fragments" (15), a place of interactive relationships with the land, rather than one where human contact is perceived to be inscribed upon the landscape.

Wright's lifetime of writing and political activism, driven by a love of country, is her way of confronting guilt for the deeds committed during the nineteenth-century pastoral invasion. Her life's activities reflect her need to make amends by promoting racial justice and nature conservation in today's world, in the hope of recreating a healthy social and physical environment for the future.
Keyword Wright, Judith, 1915-2000
Additional Notes Variant title: Judith Wright's fragile land and haunted self

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - UQ staff and students only
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
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