'The year 1788: the very beginning of European settlement. These were times of hardship, cruelty and danger. Above all, they were times of conflict between the Aborigines and the white settlers.
'Eleanor Dark brings alive those bitter years with moments of tenderness and conciliation amid the brutality and hostility. The cast of characters includes figures historical and fictional, black and white, convict and settler. All the while, beneath the veneer of British civilisation, lies the baffling presence of Australia, the 'timeless land'.
'The Storm of Time and No Barrier complete the Timeless Land trilogy. ' (Publication summary)
'Salman Rushdie — the great Indian writer — once said of the importance of stories: 'Those that do not have the power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to re-tell it, re-think it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts.' ' (41)
'In Eleanor Dark’s novel Waterway (1938), Professor Channon is prompted by the ominous international headline ‘Failure of Peace Talks’ to imagine the world from a global perspective (120). Channon feels himself metaphorically ‘lifted away from the earth … seeing it from an incredible distance, and with an incredible, an all-embracing comprehension’ (119-20). This move outward from a located perspective to ‘a more detached overview of a wider global space’ signifies a cosmopolitan viewpoint, ‘in which the viewing subject rises above the placebound attachments of the nation-state to take the measure of the world as a wider totality’ (Hegglund 8-9). Yet even this global view is mediated by Channon’s position from within ‘a great island continent alone in its south sea’ (121). Gazing from a ‘vast distance,’ he views Europe as ‘the patches where parasitic man had lived longest and most densely,’ and from which humankind ‘went out to infect fresh lands’ (120). This description of old world Europe as ‘parasitic’ provides a glimpse of resistant nationalism, reflecting Channon’s location within one of the ‘fresh lands’ affected by colonisation. Channon is ultimately unable to sustain a ‘Godlike’ perspective in this scene, desiring ‘nothing but to return’ to local place (121). Although his view initially ‘vaults beyond the bounds of national affiliation’ (Alexander and Moran 4), this move outward does not ‘nullify an affective attachment to the more grounded locations of human attachment’ (Hegglund 20). Channon’s return to the ‘shabby home … of his own humanity’ brings a renewed sense of connection to ‘the sun-warmed rail of the gate’ and ‘the faint breeze [which] ruffled the hair back from his forehead’ (122).' (Introduction)
'In 1968 the esteemed Australian anthropologist Bill Stanner coined the term “the great Australian silence” to describe a “cult of forgetfulness” that had seen Aboriginal people virtually ignored in the writing of Australian history. The Australian Dictionary of Biography had published its first two volumes by then, and the indifference that Stanner observed was already apparent in its choice of biographical subjects.
'The architects of the dictionary had envisaged a great national co-operative venture with autonomous working parties in each state whose members would choose “significant and representative” subjects, a “cross-section of Australian society”. In succinct articles, these lives would collectively illustrate the Australian national story.'
'What is it about modernism, that multivalent category riven with internal contradictions, that makes literary criticism continue to value it as a category?...' (Introduction)