Melancholy in new worlds - Ivan Doig's Montana and David Malouf's Queensland

McLaren, John (1991) Melancholy in new worlds - Ivan Doig's Montana and David Malouf's Queensland. In: Western Literature Association - Conference 1991 :, 1991. (Unpublished)


In O Brave New World [O Strange New World] (New York, Viking, 1967 [1954]), Howard Mumford Jones claims that a characteristic of writing of the American West is "melancholy ... increased by the sense of human transience" (p.384). This is true also of much Australian writing of settlement. In his trilogy starting with Dancing at the Rascal Fair (New York: Macmillan, 1987), Ivan Doig tells with great affection the story of a family's apparently successful settlement in Montana, yet his tale is punctuated with tragedy and finishes in renunciation. David Malouf, in Harland's Half Acre (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1935 [1984]) traces with similar affection the process of settlement in southern Queensland only to show how a particular family is dispossessed, broken as a family, and finishes with only the ambiguous achievement of a half acre of painting. At the centre of both works we find, not Mumford's immensity of land dwarfing human achievement, but a failure of humans to accept the nature of the land they settle.

Additional Information

NB. The title of Howard Mumford Jone's work: O Strange New World.

Item type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Current > Collections > McLaren Papers
Keywords Australian settlement, literature, reviews, novels, novelists, literary critics, trilogy, migrants, immigrants, Scotland, Aboriginal peoples, Gippsland, America, settlement, settlers, David Malouf, MCLAREN-BOXB1-DOC9
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