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Contents
Essay

Lost and found in translation

Who can talk to country?

The vast continent is really void of speech…this speechless, aimless solitariness was in the air. It was natural to the country.
DH Lawrence, Kangaroo

 

UNLIKE MANY CITY-DWELLING Australians, the desert holds no terrors for me. Instead, like DH Lawrence, I find the cathedral forests of the coastal regions oppressive and disquieting. Lawrence brought to his descriptions of the Australian bush the same overwrought sensitivity that created the claustrophobic emotional landscape of Sons and Lovers, and the appalling, majestic insularity of the Italian mountain village in The Lost Girl. He was the writer who made explicit the sense of some non-human presence in the Antipodean landscape, and while I have a different interpretation of the ‘speechless, aimless solitariness’ he attributes to the country, his instincts were good.

In his depictions of Australia in the 1923 novel Kangaroo, Lawrence expresses the ambivalence of many visiting Europeans and settler-Australians. For Somers, who stands... Read more

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From Griffith Review Edition 63: Writing the Country © Copyright Griffith University & the author.

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