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A sense of Tasmania: Post-war Tasmanian writers - their sense of place and analysis of the Tasmanian condition.


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Bird, DS 1993 , 'A sense of Tasmania: Post-war Tasmanian writers - their sense of place and analysis of the Tasmanian condition.', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Considering the size of its population and cultural isolation, Tasmania has
produced a singular number of talented writers, both of fiction and nonfiction.
No generation of writers has been more prominent in the field of
Tasmanian letters than that of the post-war generation, that is , those either
born around 1945, or those born in the thirties, reaching their maturity in the
post-war world of the fifties.
This generation was the best educated and the most widely travelled since
European settlement of the island in 1803. For these reasons, amongst
others, no earlier generation had so plied itself with questions over
Tasmanian identity and the Tasmanian condition. No earlier generation had
so distanced itself from its formative childhood and from the island itself in
order to undergo the catharsis of self-examination.
This generation was perhaps the first to be concerned about its colonial
status. Their parents had revelled in the Empire; it caused this generation
only angst. They felt that they were victims of a colonial frame of mind and
they knew that their role as artists was to create their own country and
landscapes in their mind's eye; formidable and daunting tasks.
For writers such as Koch and Conrad, the two most important of the group,
the island had set the terms of their lives and despite their periods of "exile",
they had carried off inside them the home they could not return to Their role was to examine their society and its past and to rework it with
new insights. thus to "cast shadows into the future". Tasmania's past was
grim, but not inescapable. Their artistic hope and optimism survived, as,
"Though the ghosts of Tasmania's past have not been laid to rest, it is
possible to go forward with hope." The task that this generation set itself was thus one of exorcism. This
dissertation seeks to examine their attitudes to the -Tasmanian sense of
difference; their reactions to the burden of Tasmanian history; their response
to the Tasmanian sense of isolation and finally their varying responses to the
Tasmanian environment.
Despite their diversity, there is a unifying theme. This generation of writers
accepts Tasmanian difference and recognises that Tasmanians, whatever
the cost and pain, must come to terms with themselves without the use of
outside references. They must achieve some sort of spiritual autonomy. They
must accept the challenge postulated by the Rev. John West in the last
century and attempt to create a new society based on a new spirit of place.
The selection of Tasmanian writers in this dissertation is by no means
exhaustive. Limitations of space have demanded ruthless selection and for
that reason, the field has been limited to native-born Tasmanians with the
single exception of Helen Hodgman. Her inclusion was initially in error, but
she remains as an interesting contrast to the sympathies of the native born.
For the native-born, even the highly critical, the island retains a certain
charm, but Hodgman quite obviously detested the place. For although the
island is no longer the principal place of residence for most of these writers,
it is clearly an ineradicable part of their psyche, for,
"We are like birds, we human beings; in the end we fly back to where we
come from."

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Bird, DS
Keywords: innovation, tourism, interpretation, heritage,attraction, management, meaning
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