David Foster and the Forests single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2009 2009
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David Foster won the Miles Franklin prize for his 1996 novel, The Glade within the Grove, the culmination of a series of inventive, original books-including Mates of Mars (a satire on the loss of Australian warrior skills), and Moonlite (a satirical history of colonialism). The Glade is an extraordinary novel, full of wisdom and absurdity, lyrical writing about the Australian forests and rough comedy about Australian people. When he was writing the novel Foster told Erica Travers that he was looking for a religion to encompass a philosophy-a philosophy that might save the planet from the inevitable damage of human civilization: 'The new ethics that will have to come about will be so revolutionary they may discount the value of human life. Perhaps the life of a tree might come to mean more than the life of a man.' Like Simon Schama in his study of the place of trees and water in Western culture, Landscape and Memory (published about the same time) Foster saw Western civilization as the enemy of the forests. Indeed, he thought that the eucalyptus tree was the recalcitrant enemy of civilization, hence the ambivalent relationship of Australians to the native tree. Foster found a religion for this necessary philosophy in the ancient Phrygian devotion to the goddess Cybele, and the figure of Attis who was turned into a tree after self-castration. This religion was clearly a form of nature worship that recognized the destructive relationship of humans to the natural world. Its devotees performed annual Spring rituals of frenzied dancing and self-castration. Of course, Schama notes that the Christian devotion to the cross (even the Christmas tree) represents a similar acknowledgement that Christian civilization has destroyed trees.

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Last amended 17 May 2010 09:06:51
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