4712969602367992144.jpg
This image has been sourced from online.
6899237499937034670.jpg
Cover image courtesy of publisher.
y Capricornia : A Novel single work   novel  
First known date: 1938 Issue Details: First known date: 1938... 1938
AustLit is a subscription service. The content and services available here are limited because you have not been recognised as a subscriber. Find out how to gain full access to AustLit

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Arriving in Capricornia (a fictional name for the Northern Territory) in 1904 with his brother Oscar, Mark Shillingworth soon becomes part of the flotsam and jetsam of Port Zodiac (Darwin) society. Dismissed from the public service for drunkenness, Mark forms a brief relationship with an Aboriginal woman and fathers a son, whom he deserts and who acquires the name of Naw-Nim (no-name). After killing a Chinese shopkeeper, Norman disappears from view until the second half of the novel.

Oscar, the respectable contrast to Mark, marries and tries to establish himself on a Capricornian cattle station, Red Ochre, but is deserted by his wife and eventually returns for a time to Batman (Melbourne), accompanied by his daughter Marigold and foster son Norman, who has been sent to him after Mark's desertion.

Oscar rejects the plea of a former employee, Peter Differ, to see to the welfare of his daughter Constance; Constance Differ is placed under the 'protection' of Humboldt Lace, a Protector of Aborigines, who seduces her and then marries her off to another man of part-Aboriginal descent. Forced into prostitution, Constance is dying of consumption when discovered by a railway fitter, Tim O'Cannon, who will take care of Constance's daughter, Tocky, until his own death in a train accident.
Hearing news in 1928 of an economic boom in Capricornia, Oscar returns to his station, where he is joined by Marigold and Norman, who has grown to manhood believing himself to be the son of a Javanese princess and a solider killed in the First World War. Soon after, he discovers his mother was an Aboriginal woman, and meets his father, with whom he will not reconcile until later in the novel. Norman then goes on a series of journeys to discover his true, part-Aboriginal self. On the second of these journeys, he meets and wanders in the wilderness with Tocky, who has escaped from the mission station to which she was sent after the death of O'Cannon. During this passage, she kills a man in self-defense, which leads to Norman's being accused of murder, at the same time his father is prosecuted for the death of the Chinese shopkeeper. At the end of the novel they are both acquitted, Heather and Mark are married, and Norman returns to Red Ochre, where he finds the body of Tocky and their child in a water tank in which she had taken refuge from the authorities. (Source: Oxford Companion to Australian Literature)

Notes

  • From ca. 1956 many editions have the dedication: To sweet Sadie Norden out of whose love it grew
  • Other formats: Also sound recording, large print.

Contents

* Contents derived from the North Ryde, Ryde - Gladesville - Hunters Hill area, Northwest Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1990 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Capricornia : Introduction, Mudrooroo , 1938-1990 single work criticism (p. vii-xiv)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Alternative title: Capricornia
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Publicist Publishing Company , 1938 .
      Extent: 595p.
      Limited edition info: 'Of this book a first edition of 2,000 copies has been printed, including 50 numbered copies on pure rag paper.'
      Description: Map on endpapers.
      Note/s:
      • 'First printing completed December, 1937.'
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1938 .
      Extent: x, 510p.p.
      Edition info: 2nd ed. January 1938.
      Edition info: First A & R edition
      Description: Map on endpapers.
      Reprinted: 1938 November
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Rich & Cowan , 1939 .
      Extent: x, 549p.p.
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Angus and Robertson , 1939 .
      Extent: xi, 549p.p.
      Edition info: 1st English ed.
      Description: Map on endpapers.
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Appleton , 1943 .
      Extent: xiv, 648 [ie. 649]p.p.
      Description: Map on endpapers.
      Note/s:
      • Foreword by Carl Van Doren.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1956 .
      Extent: vii, 448p.p.
      Description: Map on endpapers.
      Reprinted: 1959
      Note/s:
      • 1959 reprint has with some alteration of preliminary material.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Sirius Books , 1963 .
      Extent: viii, 448p.p.
      Reprinted: 1965
      Note/s:
      • Does not include the list of Principal Characters that appears in earlier editions.
      • Includes Publisher's Note, vii-viii.
      Series: Sirius Books Sirius Quality Paperbacks Angus and Robertson (publisher), series - publisher
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Pacific Books , 1969 .
      Extent: viii, 448p.p.
      ISBN: 0207947597
      Series: Pacific Books Angus and Robertson (publisher), 1961 series - publisher The establishment of this paperback imprint of Angus Robertson was spearheaded by Beatrice Davis. It started with print runs of 20,000 in 1961 (Paper Empires: History of Book in Australia, 18).This paperback series, published by Angus and Robertson, contains both numbered and unnumbered volumes.
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Award Books , 1969 .
      Extent: 566p.
      Description: map.
      Reprinted: 1976
      Note/s:
      • Foreword by Carl van Doren.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1972 .
      Extent: vii, 448p.p.
      Reprinted: 1977
      Note/s:
      • With short title: Capricornia
      • Introduced by Laurie Hergenhan.
      ISBN: 0207125279(pbk)
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Arkon Paperbacks , 1975 .
      Alternative title: Xavier Herbert's Capricornia
      Extent: x, 510p.p.
      Reprinted: 1975 , 1977 , 1981 , 1985
      ISBN: 0207133042, 0207132674
      Series: Arkon Paperbacks Angus and Robertson (publisher), 1972 series - publisher Arkon is a paperback reprint imprint of the Australian publisher Angus and Robertson. The series was launched in 1972 to be merchandised in connection with T. V. series and involved the cartoonist Patrick Cook.
    • Kensington, Randwick area, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Times House , 1984 .
      Extent: x, 510p.p.
      Note/s:
      • The Collector's Library of Australia's Great Books
      • Times House Publishing in association with The Australian
      ISBN: 0858356953
    • North Ryde, Ryde - Gladesville - Hunters Hill area, Northwest Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1996 .
      Extent: xiv, 510p.p.
      Description: map.
      Note/s:
      • This edition is part of the A & R Classics series.
      • With short title: Capricornia
      • Includes introduction by Mudrooroo Nyoongah from the Angus & Robertson 1990 edition.
      ISBN: 0207189730
      Series: y A and R Classics Angus and Robertson (publisher), Z1411167 series - publisher
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: HarperCollins , 1996 .
      Extent: xx, 577p.p.
      Reprinted: 2002
      Note/s:
      • This edition is part of the A & R Classics series.
      ISBN: 0207199558
      Series: y A and R Classics Angus and Robertson (publisher), Z1411167 series - publisher
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: HarperCollins , 2008 .
      4712969602367992144.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: xx, 569p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Gift edition published to coincide with the release of the film Australia. The film's credits acknowledge Capricornia's role in chronicling the events of Northern Australia's history as depicted in the movie.
      ISBN: 9780732289461 (pbk.)
    • Sydney South, South Sydney area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: HarperCollins , 2013 .
      6899237499937034670.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 624p.
      Note/s:
      • Published: 1st March 2013
      ISBN: 9780732296995, 0732296994
      Series: y A and R Classics Angus and Robertson (publisher), Z1411167 series - publisher
Alternative title: Capricornia : Roman
Language: Swedish
    • Stockholm,
      c
      Sweden,
      c
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Fritzes , 1944 .
      Extent: 758p.
      Reprinted: 1944 , 1948

Works about this Work

Exercising Dominion : Landscape, Civilisation and Racial Politics in Capricornia Michael Thomas Ellis , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Ilha Do Desterro : A Journal of English Language , vol. 69 no. 2 2016;
'The Land in Xavier Herbert’s 1937 novel Capricornia acts as a “medium” (38) according to Lydia Wevers, mediating all experiences and developments. In particular, the land is a site of contention between Indigenous and settler groups each vying for an existence very different from the other’s. The phrase “exercising dominion” (Fitzmaurice, 56) was developed by European thinkers in the Middle Ages, who were tasked with finding justification for the colonisation of the Holy Lands of the Middle East and the mineral-rich lands of the Americas. This article will analyse the settlement and colonisation of the Northern Territory as depicted in Capricornia with consideration of the above statement, particularly as it explores the opposing groups’ attitudes towards and interactions with the Land and to each other. ' (Publication abstract)
Tracking Our Country in Settler Literature Jeanine Leane , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;
'This is a narrative paper that tracks a story of Aboriginal representation and the concept of nation across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through some important Australian texts. I read this assemblage of settler literature through the cultural metaphor of tracking, because tracking is as much about anticipation as it is following. Tracking is about reading: reading land and people before and after whitefellas. It is about entering into the consciousness of the person or people of interest. Tracking is not just about reading the physical signs; it is about reading the mind. It is not just about seeing and hearing what is there; it is as much about what is not there. Tony Morrisson wrote of mapping ‘the critical geography’ (3) of the white literary imagination in her work on Africanist presence in American Literature, Playing in the Dark. This paper tracks the settler imagination on Aboriginal presence in Australian literature in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. ' (Author's introduction)
White Aborigines : Xavier Herbert, P. R. Stephensen and the Publicist Ellen Smith , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Interventions : International Journal of Postcolonial Studies , vol. 16 no. 1 2014; (p. 97-116)
'This essay explores the way ideas about Aboriginality informed right-wing nationalist projects in Australia in the 1930s. Focusing on the publication by the proto-fascist Publicist group of Xavier Herbert's classic anti-racist protest novel of the Australian frontier, Capricornia, I unpack the unlikely logic by which a deep identification with Aboriginality and with the political struggle for Aboriginal rights is at the core of a set of fantasies about white Australian ethnicity and the great Australian novel. Recent scholarship on race and Australian nationalism ties nationalist investments in a traditional Aboriginal presence to the dismantling of the white Australia policy and the rise of the liberal multicultural state. Attending to the earlier history of Aboriginal appropriation reveals the unstable place of the Aboriginal figure on the political right. I argue that Herbert's novel stages the relationship between a white father and his mixed-race Aboriginal son as the potential site of legitimate white Australian belonging. Ultimately, however, the Aboriginal woman carries the violence of Herbert's attempt to turn the white colonizer into a national indigene.' (Author's abstract)
y Writing Native : The Aboriginal in Australian Cultural Nationalism 1927–1945 Ellen Smith , Princeton : 2013 7432428 2013 single work thesis

'Writing Native explores how Australian interwar nationalist representations of the Aboriginal engaged key political and aesthetic paradigms of the early twentieth century: communism, fascism and modernism. Critics often interpret nationalist engagements with Aboriginal culture as a recent phenomenon, tied to the dismantling of the white Australia policy and the rise of the liberal multicultural state. However, I uncover a longer and more politically varied history. Moving from the far left to the far right, I demonstrate the centrality of representations of the Aboriginal within attempts to imagine alternatives to liberal capitalist modernity in Australia from diverse political perspectives. In doing so, I offer a new way of way of thinking about the relationship between Australian cultural nationalism and modernist cultures in the first half of the twentieth century. ' (Thesis abstract)

Top End Chronicle Overpowers Its Flaws Geordie Williamson , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 19 October 2012; (p. 15)

— Review of Capricornia : A Novel Xavier Herbert 1938 single work novel
New Australian Books Frederick T. Macartney , 1938 single work review
— Appears in: All About Books , 16 March vol. 10 no. 3 1938; (p. 34-36)

— Review of Capricornia : A Novel Xavier Herbert 1938 single work novel ; 'Whence Shall We Buy?' Lilian Crago 1937 selected work poetry ; Antipodean Journey Margaret Macpherson 1937 single work autobiography
Raw Life in North Australia 1938 single work review
— Appears in: The Central Queensland Herald , 17 February 1938; (p. 12)

— Review of Capricornia : A Novel Xavier Herbert 1938 single work novel
Untitled 1938 single work review
— Appears in: The North Queensland Register , 19 February 1938; (p. 46)

— Review of Capricornia : A Novel Xavier Herbert 1938 single work novel
A Worthy Award 1938 single work review
— Appears in: The Central Queensland Herald , 21 April 1938; (p. 12)

— Review of Capricornia : A Novel Xavier Herbert 1938 single work novel
Untitled 1956 single work review
— Appears in: The Cairns Post , 1 December 1956; (p. 6)

— Review of Capricornia : A Novel Xavier Herbert 1938 single work novel
y A Long and Winding Road : Xavier Herbert's Literary Journey Sean Monahan , Nedlands : UWA Publishing , 2003 Z1041133 2003 single work criticism
Politics and Xavier Herbert's Women Kevin Green , 1983 single work criticism
— Appears in: Kunapipi , vol. 5 no. 1 1983; (p. 51-62)
An Evening with Xavier Herbert Xavier Herbert , 1976 single work autobiography
— Appears in: LiNQ , vol. 5 no. 1 1976; (p. 1-6)
The Psychoanalytic Approach to Literature Xavier Pons , 1986 single work criticism
— Appears in: LiNQ , vol. 14 no. 1 1986; (p. 36-46)
'Their Ultimate Absorption' : Assimilation in 1930s Australia John Chesterman , Heather Douglas , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , no. 81 2004; (p. 48-58, notes 205-208)
Discusses the issue of Aboriginal assimilation with reference to Herbert's novel.
Last amended 8 Apr 2016 12:46:29
X