'The Poetry of the Earth is Never Dead': Australia's Road Writing

Association for the Study of Australian Literature
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of the Association for the study of Australian ..., 2009, 1, 2009 (Special Is), pp. 1 - 16
Issue Date:
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This article discusses the process of editing The Australian Book of the Road. It uses William Hays An Australian Rip Van Winkle as an exemplary Australian road text. With its diffuse sense of hauntedness, multiple time-warps, and eerie appropriation of northern hemisphere literary texts, Hays story offers a suggestive frame for reflecting on our relationship with the road in Australia and the way it is figured in our writing; to consider the road not only as a material artefact represented by our road texts but a set of cultural traditions and tropes. Its layered hauntings offer paths to unpacking of the odd sense of unease that permeates so many of these road stories. Using road writing (my own term) as a strategic generic category through which disparate works can be interpreted, this paper will consider them as instances of spatial history, following Paul Carter, opposed to more triumphalist literary traditions. It will also, finally, consider the Australian road within a global context; in particular, the strategic ways in which these stories play with strategies of adaptation.
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