[en] Reconciliation ; Australian nationalism ; Tasmanian identity ; magical realism ; Richard Flanagan ; Italo Svevo
[en] This article offers an attempt to redeem Death of a River Guide, the first novel by Richard Flanagan, from readings which see it mainly as an instance of appropriation of Aboriginal culture and spirituality on the part of a white settler writer living in Australia. Indeed, next to its gesturing towards a sense of indigenous belonging in Tasmania, the book displays its affiliation with a more European cultural inheritance, notably through the reference to the work of Italo Svevo and through the inclusion of a rival sense of spirituality, Christian in inspiration. In all, the book's magic realism then incorporates distinct constituents, in a way which points to the critical necessity of subjecting fiction's magic moments to the kind of analysis that will reveal their specific cultural genealogy. Such critical practice would preserve magic realism, as a world-wide literary category, from being used in any levelling, dehistoricized, apolitical manner; and moreover, in the case of Flanagan, it points to an important discursive dialogism which provides an adequate response to the sense of divided epistemology that has characterized Australian literary culture since the Reconciliation.