Cyclone Country

The Language of Place and Disaster in Australian Literature


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About the Book

The storm has become a universal trope in the literature of crisis, revelation and transformation. It can function as a trope of place, of apocalypse and epiphany, of cultural mythos and story, and of people and spirituality. This book explores the connections between people, place and environment through the image of cyclones within fiction and poetry from the Australian state of Queensland, the northern coast of which is characterized by these devastating storms. Analyzing a range of works including Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm, and Vance Palmer’s Cyclone it explains the cyclone in the Queensland literary imagination as an example of a cultural response to weather in a unique regional place. It also situates the cyclones that appear in Queensland literature within the broader global context of literary cyclones.

About the Author(s)

Chrystopher J. Spicer has written extensively about Australian and American arts and culture. He is currently a cultural historian and adjunct senior research fellow at James Cook University, in Queensland, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Chrystopher J. Spicer
Foreword by Stephen Torre
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 210
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8156-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4050-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Foreword by Stephen Torre 1
Introduction 5
One. The Cyclone Written into the Language of Place 9
Two. The Naming of the Disaster 44
Three. “Big wind, he waiting there”: Vance Palmer’s Cyclones of Apocalypse and Their Power of Revelation 64
Four. “Touching the edges of cyclones”: Thea Astley’s Cyclones of Revelation 84
Five. Threading the Eye of the Cyclone: Elizabeth Hunter’s Epiphany in Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm 98
Six. Earth Breathing: Susan Hawthorne’s Cyclone Within 117
Seven. The Apocalypse and Epiphany of Cyclone in the Land of Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria 135
Eight. The Word Becomes the Cyclone: Revelations of the Literary Storm 155
Appendix A: Fiction and Poetry Written and/or Set in Queensland Featuring Cyclones 173
Appendix B: Selected International Novels and Poetry Works Featuring Cyclonic Storms 176
Bibliography 179
Index 193

Book Reviews & Awards

• “The book is a significant achievement and a welcome contribution to the cultural understanding of tropical storms.”—Journal of Australian, Canadian, and Aotearoa New Zealand Studies

• “A thought-provoking, sophisticated, and highly complex book that lovers of Australian literature, in particular, will find engrossing.”—North Queensland History