The mythic transformation of Adair in David Malouf's The conversations at Curlow Creek

Kotzas, Helene (2000) The mythic transformation of Adair in David Malouf's The conversations at Curlow Creek. LiNQ, 27 (2). pp. 13-21.

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Abstract

[Extract] In The Conversations at Curlow Creek (1996) Malouf plots the transformation of Michael Adair, a product of European Enlightenment values, into the legendary character O'Dare, a figure of early Nineteenth-Century Australian mythology. Malouf's ambiguous Epilogue, which describes the completion of this metamorphosis, is offered as the only credible conclusion to a narrative tracing the effect of the alien Australian landscape on an emerging colonial consciousness. Malouf initially presents the soldier Adair, and Carney, the prisoner he has been sent to execute, as antithetical, and then gradually pares down their dissimilarities, progressively removing Adair's perception of himself as superior in education and rank to the rest of those he meets. Carney is the catalyst for these changes in Adair, and although, like Adair, he is a native Irishman, he becomes a symbol of Australia, and all that Adair's education in Enlightenment values fears: the rugged, the dangerous, the uneducated, a projection of the noble savage. In the early pages, Malouf establishes an Apollonian/Dionysian division between these two characters, a division which is mirrored in the minor characters of Longhurst and Garrety, who both complicate and complement the opposition. The imminent death of Carney prompts self-reflection in most of those at Curlow Creek. but in none so much as Adair, who grows not only to realise his similarities to the condemned man, but also what it is he is looking for in Australia. In the Epilogue, Malouf shows both Adair's Internal transformation, and the public transformation of "his" story into a potent colonial myth of escape from death into freedom.

Item ID: 12094
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: literary history; Malouf
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ISSN: 0817-458X
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2011 00:52
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 100%
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