Winton's spectralities, or, what haunts Cloudstreet?



Publication Details

Griffiths, M. R. (2014). Winton's spectralities, or, what haunts Cloudstreet?. In L. McCredden and N. O'Reilly (Eds.), Tim Winton: Critical Essays (pp. 75-95). Western Australia: University of Western Australia.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9781742586069


First published in 1991, Tim Winton's Cloudstreet is now presented in one of its several Penguin editions as a 'Modern Australian Classic'. Might this detail of the book's marketing reveal something about the novel's metatextual status? It might be seen to imply that Cloudstreet figures a certain Australian modernity. Indeed, this modernity would have to be commensurable with something classic, standard, which is also to say formative. And insofar as it is formative of the present, a classic is also implicitly, at least in part, of the past. Cloudstreet's metatextual status, then, implies that the novel figures Australia's modernity even as it relies on a classicism that is spectral: haunting the present in all its modernity. If the paradoxical canonical status claimed by the novel implies a certain spectrality, in this way then it is perhaps not surprising that in fleeting but essential moments the novel functions not only as a family epic, but also as a ghost story.

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