Publication Details

Clark, M. 2008, 'Power, Vanishing Acts and Silent Watchers in Janette Turner Hospital's The Last Magician', Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, vol. 8, pp. 107-120.


Janette Turner Hospital’s fifth novel The Last Magician reflects her desire to address cross-cultural injustices created by the structures of modern civilisation and the subjection of women in masculine ideology. Turner Hospital has said that the inspiration for the book came from photographs taken of the Serra Pelada gold mine in the Brazilian rainforest by the South American photographer, Sebastião Salgado. The author reveals a disposition towards the Gothic mode and towards classical dark tales in particular when she has one of her characters say that these photographs remind her of ‘Dante’s Inferno. The Botticelli drawings’ (Th e Last Magician 48). Salgado’s shocking images depict thousands of exploited Brazilian peasants descending and ascending a mineshaft (http://www.masters-of-photography.com/images/full/salgado/ salgado_ladders.jpg). They also evoke notions of the ability of the human spirit to triumph over adversity.