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Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 Aboriginal Testimony, Trauma and Fiction : Transcribing Massacre in Randolph Stow’s To the Islands
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In 1957 the young writer Randolph Stow travelled to Forrest River Mission in East Kimberley, Western Australia to conduct research for a new novel. His experiences and observations at the mission over four months resulted in the publication of his Miles Franklin Award-winning book To the Islands (1958). A novel that fluctuates between the symbolic imperatives of the central narrative and the material realities of Forrest River, To the Islands is both a remarkable and uneasy representation of place. Particularly unsettling is Stow’s inclusion of an oral account of massacre taken down verbatim at the mission in 1957. Arguing that this massacre narrative represents a moment of slippage in the novel – whereby the localised trauma of Forrest River can be seen to infiltrate Stow’s King Lear-like narrative – this paper draws on recent archival research to suggest the massacre account in To the Islands allows a momentary and profound register of colonial violence, not otherwise expressed in the novel.' (Publication abstract)


  • Author's note: This article was written on Larrakia country, drawn from a thesis conducted on Wurundjeri country in the Kulin Nation, both places are a long way from Oombulgurri and the sites of the Forrest River Massacres – in writing of this place as a white Settler I acknowledge the ongoing traumas experienced by Oombulgurri people still fighting to return to country and pay respects to all sovereign peoples of Balangarra country. I would also like to warn readers that the following includes a detailed account of massacre, which may cause distress

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon TEXT Special Issue Website Series Writing and Trauma no. 42 Bridget Haylock (editor), Suzanne Hermanoczki (editor), 2017 12939034 2017 periodical issue

    'Writing is a crucial process to the understanding of trauma. Whether trauma is represented through literature, fiction, non-fiction, auto/biography, memoir, post-generational and Indigenous narratives, poetry, graphic novels, art, photography, dance, plays, film, or closely observed by practitioners teaching creative writing within a classroom or an academic context, this issue includes the many and varied ways writers are bearing witness to trauma in the written form. Writing trauma offers a way of confronting, unpacking, questioning, de/constructing and navigating, the silence and the space, the gaps and the holes, the aporia, the unrepresentable and unknowable, of the sayable and unsayable, in order to reach a better understanding of how trauma is being re-presented within these diverse narratives. ' (Issue introduction)

Last amended 22 Feb 2018 06:54:49 Aboriginal Testimony, Trauma and Fiction : Transcribing Massacre in Randolph Stow’s To the Islandssmall AustLit logo TEXT Special Issue Website Series
  • Forrest River Mission (1913-1968), Forrest River, Kimberley area, North Western Australia, Western Australia,
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