Master of Creative Arts (Research)
Faculty of Creative Arts
Graham, Caroline Elizabeth, Fights and fancies: a search for Australian magical realism, Master of Creative Arts (Research) thesis, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, 2012. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3560
Fights and Fancies: The Search for Australian Magical Realism attempts to answer the question: Can magical realism successfully translate into the Australian experience?
To respond to this question, I have written a collection of nine short stories, titled The Town Time Forgot. Although its approach to the genre is somewhat unconventional, this 50,000 word creative work demonstrates that magical realism can be a valid and successful way to present the Australian story and landscape. The collection is set in the fictional central Queensland town of Marvale (based on Mackay), where the past has a habit of showing up uninvited and strange happenings have become part of the fabric of reality. The characters are caught between the grungy suburban, rural and industrial landscapes of reality and the magical touches of the town’s collective narrative. To varying degrees, the presence of the mining industry as a colonising influence on the town permeates all the characters’ stories as they try to reconcile the gulf between wealth and wanting.
The second element of this submission is a 5000-‐word exegetical component that contextualises the collection of short stories. In its interrogation of the relevant academic and creative literature, the exegesis also attempts to prove the legitimacy of Australian magical realism as a postcolonial and cross-‐cultural discourse. The work integrates analysis of several key pieces of Australian magical realist literature (Peter Carey’s Illywhacker, Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet and Glenda Guest’s Siddon Rock) as well as international examples of the genre, and academic literature. It acknowledges the valid concerns of those who suggest Western writers’ adoption of the genre undermines the core subversive impact of magical realism. However, the thesis concludes that magical realism’s goal of challenging the dominant culture, ideology, narrative and history is better furthered through dialogue with multiple perspectives rather than divisions of ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ claim on the genre.