“The Representation of Aboriginality in the Novels of Peter Temple”

Bill Phillips

Abstract


Identity politics is fraught with difficulties. Of few places is this truer than in Australia when it comes to the representation of Aboriginality. On the one hand the absence or invisibility of Aboriginality in Australian life and culture maybe interpreted as a deliberate exclusion of a people whose presence is uncomfortable or inconvenient for many Australians of immigrant origin. Equally, the representation of Aboriginality by non-Aboriginals may be seen as an appropriation of identity, an inexcusable commercial exploitation or an act of neocolonialism. Best-selling and prize-winning South African-born author Peter Temple appears to be very much aware of these pitfalls. In his crime novels, written between 1996 and 2009, he has obviously made the decision to grasp the nettle and attempt to represent Aboriginality in a way that would be as acceptable as possible. This paper traces the evolution of Temple's representation of Aboriginality through the three major Aboriginal characters present in his novels: Cameron Delray (Bad Debts, 1996; Black Tide, 1999; Dead Point, 2000; and White Dog, 2003), Ned Lowey (An Iron Rose, 1998) and Detective Sergeant Paul Dove (The Broken Shore, 2005 and Truth, 2009).

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/co2016209-21

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