Issue Details: First known date: 2012 2012
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'Richard Flanagan employs literary allusions in his 2009 Miles Franklin award-winning historical novel Wanting (2008) to play out themes of power and privilege in a contrapuntal composition that dramatizes links between connecting and precursor texts. Alternating narrative lines follow Mathinna, an Indigenous Tasmanian girl adopted by Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin, and Charles Dickens' infatuation with actress Nelly Ternan. He interrogates apocryphal historical events, such as the extinction of Tasmanian Indigenous people. This chapter argues that Flanagan's intertext exposes the savagery of his ageing male protagonists and the patriarchal society they represent. His author's notes describe Wanting as a "mediation on desire," anticipating and summarily dismissing criticism of his depiction of a Zeus-like Sir John Franklin figuratively or actually raping Mathinna after ball. But does he go too far, debauching Mathinna's historical character in the process? Dickens' love affair with Ellen Ternan, the young female lead in his play The Frozen North (1859), becomes a variation on the father/daughter incest paradigm. Employing archetypal dramas and postcolonial theory, Flanagan ensures that every note plays on others, creating riffs. This surely demonstrates his confidence as an established writer, increasingly popular in the United States of America, perhaps more so than in his own country. Flanagan's novel is intent on discord rather than historical re-inscription.' (23)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y The Shadow of the Precursor Diana Glenn (editor), Ben Kooyman (editor), Md Rezaul Haque (editor), Nena Bierbaum (editor), Newcastle upon Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Press , 2012 Z1872028 2012 anthology criticism

    'A shadow, in its most literal sense, is the projection of a silhouette against a surface and the obstruction of direct light from hitting that surface. For writers and artists, the shadows cast by their precursors can be either a welcome influence, one consciously evoked in textual production via homage or bricolage, or can manifest as an intrusive, haunting, prohibitive presence, one which threatens to engulf the successor. Many writers and artists are affected by an anxious and ambiguous relationship with their precursors, while others are energised by this relationship. The role that intertextuality plays in creative production invites interrogation, and this publication explores a range of conscious and unconscious influences informing relations between texts and contexts, between predecessors and successors.

    The chapters revolve around intertextual influence, ranging from conscious imitation and intentional allusion to Julia Kristeva's idea of intertextuality. Do all texts contain references to and even quotations from other texts? Do such references help shape how we read? This multidisciplinary work includes chapters on the long shadows cast by Shakespeare, Dante, Scott, Virgil and Ovid, the shadows of colonial precursors on postcolonial successors, the shadows cast over Kipling and Murdoch, and chapters on other writers, dramatists and filmmakers and their relationships with precursor figures. With its focus on intertextual relationships, this book contributes to the thriving fields of adaptation studies and studies of intertextuality' (Publisher website).

    Newcastle upon Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Press , 2012
    pg. 236-254
Last amended 6 Sep 2012 11:02:55
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