AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 4323580397427605742.jpg
This image has been sourced from online.
y separately published work icon Wanting single work   novel   historical fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 2008... 2008 Wanting
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'It is 1839. A young Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, is running through the long wet grass of an island at the end of the world to get help for her dying father, an Aboriginal chieftain. Twenty years later, on an island at the centre of the world, the most famous novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, realises he is about to abandon his wife, risk his name, and forever after be altered because of his inability any longer to control his intense passion.

Connecting the two events are the most celebrated explorer of the age, Sir John Franklin - then governor of Van Diemen's Land - and his wife, Lady Jane, who adopt Mathinna, seen as one of the last of a dying race, as an experiment. Lady Jane believes the distance between savagery and civilisation is the learned capacity to control wanting. The experiment fails, the Franklins throw the child onto the streets and into a life of prostitution and alcoholism. A few years later Mathinna is found dead in a puddle. She is nineteen years old. By then Sir John too is dead, lost in the blue ice of the Arctic seeking the North West Passage. A decade later evidence emerges that in its final agony, Franklin's expedition resorted to the level and practice of savages: cannibalism. Lady Jane enlists Dickens's aid to put an end to such scandalous suggestions.

Dickens becomes ever more entranced in the story of men entombed in ice, recognising in its terrible image his own frozen inner life. He produces and stars in a play inspired by Franklin's fate to give story to his central belief: that discipline and will can conquer desire. And yet the play will bring him to the point where he is finally no longer able to control his own wanting and the consequences it brings.

Based on historic events, Wanting is a novel about art, love, and the way in which life is finally determined never by reason, but only ever by wanting.' (Provided by publisher.)

Notes

  • Dedication: For Kevin Perkins.
  • Epigraph: You see, reason, gentlemen, is a fine thing, that is unquestionable, but reason is only reason and satisfies only man's reasoning capacity, while wanting is a manifestation of the whole of life. - Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Epigraph: That which is wanting cannot be numbered. - Ecclesiates
  • Promotional DVD of the same title contains: Behind the pages - Richard Flanagan and Wanting; Promotional trailer; Reading group questions; Image library; Author biography
  • Other formats: Also sound recording; braille

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • North Sydney, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Knopf Australia , 2008 .
      image of person or book cover 4323580397427605742.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 256p.p.
      ISBN: 9781741666557
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Atlantic Monthly Press ,
      ca. 2008 .
      image of person or book cover 5221555465514211803.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 256p.
      Edition info: 1st US ed.
      ISBN: 9780802119001
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Atlantic Books ,
      2009 .
      image of person or book cover 928452578537861428.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 256p.
      ISBN: 9781848870710 184887071X (hbk)
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Atlantic Books ,
      2010 .
      image of person or book cover 296947355545641803.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 252p.
      ISBN: 1848870779 9781848870772 (pbk)
Language: German
    • Zurich,
      c
      Switzerland,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Atrium ,
      2009 .
      image of person or book cover 4188432906456740491.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Alternative title: Mathinna: Roman
      Extent: 302p.
      ISBN: 9783855351350 385535135X
    • Berlin,
      c
      Germany,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Insel ,
      2011 .
      image of person or book cover 7507325907749982629.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Alternative title: Begehren : Roman
      Extent: 302p.
      ISBN: 9783458357124

Works about this Work

First Voices : Visiting Wybalenna Cameron Hindrum , 2015 single work prose
— Appears in: Island , no. 142 2015; (p. 60-62)
Richard Flanagan, a Bright Star Rising from Australian Literary World Li Yao , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Oceanic Literary Studies , no. 2 2015; (p. 215-219)
'Being unfamiliar to most Chinese readers, Richard Flanagan is one of the most accomplished and distinctive writers in Australia in recent twenty years. Representing growing diversification of multiculturalism in Australia, all his works, from Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping and Gould's Book of Fish : A Novel in Twelve Fish to The Unknown Terrorist, Wanting and The Narrow Road to the Deep North, are miraculous flowers bursting into bloom in the fertile soil of life, in which there is a conciliation of post-modernism and realism in creation, characterized by strong self-consciousness and magnificent realistic features. Some critics argue Flanagan reminds them of such masters as Whitman, Joyce, Faulkner and Garcia Marquez etc. As the laureat of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for English literature, Richard Flanagan is a bright star rising high from Tasmania, Australia.' (215-216)
Communicating the Incommunicable Kirsten Krauth , 2015 single work column
— Appears in: Australian Author , June vol. 47 no. 1 2015; (p. 14-17)
Making an Expedition of Herself : Lady Jane Franklin as Queen of the Tasmanian Extinction Narrative Amanda Johnson , 2014 single work single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 5 2014;

'This paper compares fictional portraits of Lady Jane Franklin in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (2008), Sten Nadolny’s The Discovery of Slowness (1997), Adrienne Eberhard’s verse novel Jane, Lady Franklin (2004) and Jennifer Livett’s novel fragment, ‘Prologue: A Fool on the Island’.

'These fictions variously reconstruct Franklin’s vilified roles as modern female traveller and social reformer in Tasmanian colonial society. They also evoke her public lamentations over the loss of her explorer husband on the doomed North-West Passage expedition. While some of these novels privilege white male viewpoints, others foreground Franklin in her guises of political agitator, traveller, and hubristic public mourner. Some of these works also depict intercultural relationships between Franklin and Indigenous Palawa children as central to their elegiac evocations of settler mourning.

'I argue that these novels differently show how Franklin’s decades-long grief ‘performance’, traversing two hemispheres, served a personal memorial function while guaranteeing her tentative access to, and ‘safe passage’ through, the male-dominated imperial political, social and cultural discourses of her day. I argue finally that, with the exception of Livett and Nadolny, these dramatic ‘retrievals’ of the figure of Jane Franklin in relation to Indigenous subjects, serve a limited critique of the parochial, racist colonial culture of early ‘Hobarton’. A complex Jane Franklin character is often elided within these novelised landscapes of dispossession, with Franklin sometimes (mis)cast as wicked queen in the construction of racial extinction narratives. ' (Author's abstract)

Rewriting History : Animality In J.M. Coetzee's Dusklands And Richard Flanagan's Wanting Brian Daniel Deyo , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Ariel , vol. 44 no. 4 2013; (p. 89-116)

'This article examines two works of fiction that speculatively rewrite settler histories in South Africa and Australia, J.M. Coetzee’s Dusklands and Richard Flanagan’s Wanting. In the interest of critically addressing the silences, elisions, and ideological simplifications of imperialist histories of the colonial encounter, both texts imaginatively attend to the lived experiences of European settlers and indigenous peoples during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In their respective accounts of the colonial encounter, Coetzee and Flanagan represent how racist, anthropocentric, and ecophobic mentalities are unsettled by affective intensities that instantiate the body’s resistance to the political, economic, social, and religious logics of colonialism. Both authors coordinate the body’s resistance with animality, which in its turn is posited as a kind of affective power that has the potential to ethically and aesthetically reconfigure the human-animal binary of western discourse. Inasmuch as they rewrite history, imaginatively recuperate the value of indigenous sensibilities, and positively reinscribe human animality, this essay proposes that Coetzee and Flanagan attempt to resituate the human ecologically.' (Publication summary)

Untitled Lachlan Jobbins , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: Bookseller + Publisher Magazine , October vol. 88 no. 4 2008; (p. 36)

— Review of Wanting Richard Flanagan , 2008 single work novel
Rewriting the Past Katharine England , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 8 November 2008; (p. 12)

— Review of Wanting Richard Flanagan , 2008 single work novel ; Ice Louis Nowra , 2008 single work novel
Book of the Week Stephanie Trigg , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 9 November 2008; (p. 26)

— Review of Wanting Richard Flanagan , 2008 single work novel
Dark Heart of Desire Don Anderson , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 8-9 November 2008; (p. 10)

— Review of Wanting Richard Flanagan , 2008 single work novel
Crucible for Happenings Geordie Williamson , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , November no. 306 2008; (p. 11-12)

— Review of Wanting Richard Flanagan , 2008 single work novel
The Price of Desire Diane Stubbings , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 25 October 2008; (p. 11)
Flanagan's Book of Desire Jason Steger , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 1 November 2008; (p. 26-27) The Sydney Morning Herald , 8-9 November 2008; (p. 26-27)
Looking for Everyday Miracles Bron Sibree , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 8 November 2008; (p. 4-5)
The Legend of Passion and Pulp Bron Sibree , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 8 - 9 November 2008; (p. 24-25)
Looking beyond the Frame Lachlan Jobbins (interviewer), 2008 single work interview
— Appears in: Bookseller + Publisher Magazine , October vol. 88 no. 4 2008; (p. 43)
Last amended 13 Mar 2018 09:06:08
X