Walking through an Australian bookshop will take you past shelves of literature dealing with the first and second world wars. In fact, it is not unfair to suggest there is an obsession in Australia about war that manifests itself in the military paraphernalia of war – including books. Richard Flanagan’s novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North is yet another addition to the catalogue of war experience literature focusing mainly on the dehumanising experience of Australian POWs dying in droves while constructing the railway track for the Japanese war machine to move troops from Thailand through Burma eventually to pave the way for the invasion of India. The awards and accompanying praise the novel has earned since its release in 2013 reflects an appreciation of its ability to reimagine Australia in a terrain already covered by numerous other accounts. Reimagining Australia in Flanagan’s novel is less an exercise in, to invoke Richard White’s classic text (1981), reinventing Australia and more a concern with critiquing the nation’s prevalent form of self-narration. Reinvention, in my reading, entails the questioning of the imperial war experience as the defining moment for the nation’s birth by fire and as such is a critique of whiteness, of Anglo-centeredness. If I am right this places Flanagan’s novel in an ambivalent space of critique and reinforcement. It is this space I wish to discuss.
|Publication date||Dec 2016|
|Number of pages||1|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2016|
|Event||International Australian Studies (InASA) Conference: Re-imagining Australia: Encounter, Recognition, Responsibility - Fremantle, Perth, Australia|
Duration: 7 Dec 2016 → 9 Dec 2016
|Conference||International Australian Studies (InASA) Conference|
|Period||07/12/2016 → 09/12/2016|
Jensen, L. (2016). Reimagining or reinventing the nation? The Narrow Road to the Deep North' and the De-sacralisation of the Nation. Paper presented at International Australian Studies (InASA) Conference, Perth, Australia.