AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2012... 2012 Finding Hope in the Stories : Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria and the Carnivalesque Search for a New Order
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

'Alexis Wright's Carpentaria is the story of the Phantom family, members of the Pricklebush people, who live in the fictional town of Desperance in the Gulf country of north-western Queensland. It is a long and sprawling carnivalesque novel that offers a cautiously positive outlook for Aboriginal people that also recognises the difficulties of contemporary Aboriginal experience. Carpentaria is not an historical novel in the sense of retelling an historical event; however, the past pervades the narrative as it grapples with the many ways that the past is recorded. It challenges mainstream or dominant representations of Aboriginal people in historiography, language, literature, and politics, to propose new ways of thinking. It suggest that it is the people who are responsible for passing on the essential stories of history and culture to their families as lived history, not the official history held in archives and managed by institutions. The novel's fluid time and ambivalence presents history and historic change outside the usual historical and literary framework. By bringing together myth, history, memory and imagination, by combining humour and seriousness, Dreamtime and Christianity, ambivalence and certainty, and politics and art the novel seeks to switch to a different sense of unity and harmony. But there is a deep sense of ambivalence towards the possibility of a future where good and evil, and black and white are no longer clearly defined and the old rules no longer apply.' (Author's abstract)



Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon JASAL Philosophy, Canonicity, Reading vol. 12 no. 3 2012 Z1933957 2012 periodical issue 2012
Last amended 8 Nov 2018 16:16:43 Finding Hope in the Stories : Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria and the Carnivalesque Search for a New Ordersmall AustLit logo JASAL