The fellow (novel); and Australian historical fiction, debating the perceived past (dissertation)

Leonardo Penazzi

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Abstract

Novel: The Fellow What is knowledge? Who should own it? Why is it used? Who can use it? Is knowledge power, or is it an illusion? These are some of the questions addressed in The Fellow. At the time of Australian federation, the year 1901, while a nation is being drawn into unity, one of its primary educational institutions is being drawn into disunity when an outsider challenges the secure world of The University of Melbourne. Arriving in Melbourne after spending much of his life travelling around Australia, an old Jack-of-all-trades bushman finds his way into the inner sanctum of The University of Melbourne. Not only a man of considerable and varied skill, he is also a man who is widely read and self-educated. However, he applies his knowledge in practical ways, based on what he has experienced in the "real world". Will the "real world" of this outsider severely affect the academic world of the university? Essay: "Australian Historical Fiction: Reviewing the Perceived Past" Since historical fiction can never provide an "authentic" representation of previous eras, what is the role or significance of historical fiction? This essay contends that, instead of an author writing about a previous historical period, what they are providing is a contemporary interpretation of events beyond the experience of that contemporary society. Given an amount of time is needed to pass before a society can assess its own history in a less emotional, more "enlightened" way, the author of historical fiction can offer a metaphorical perspective on historical issues and the way in which his or her society has "advanced" in the interval since the setting of the novel. This idea is explored through discussion of Thomas Keneally's novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Mudrooroo's novel The Promised Land, Patrick White's novel Voss and The Fellow.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMasters
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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