Biopolitics and Eleanor Dark’s Prelude to Christopher

Abstract

‘In 1934 Miles Franklin described Eleanor Dark’s second novel, Prelude to Christopher, as ‘a terribly beautiful piece of work’ (128). One of Dark’s earliest critics, Franklin attributed the book’s strength to the author’s deft handling of a tragic theme and ‘the urge to speak the naked truth’ (125). Later critics emphasised the book’s experimental style, especially its skilled handling o the multiple viewpoints, flashbacks and interior monologues associated with high modernism. By contrast, recent critics have focused on the novel’s subject matter and Dark’s engagement with the biopolitical norms that manifested in eugenics. This essay pursues that focus. It aims to flesh out the ways in which Dark’s novel registers the potential impact of eugenics on liberal conceptions of freedom and to explore some of the ways in which it attempts to reclaim that freedom…(’ From author’s introduction p. 76)

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Published 1 June 2011 in Volume 26 No. 2. Subjects: Aboriginal-White relations, Australian literature and writers, Biopolitics, Eugenics, Human relations, Literary criticism, Literary portrayal, Whiteness.

Cite as: Maxwell, Anne. ‘Biopolitics and Eleanor Dark’s Prelude to Christopher.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 26, no. 2, 2011. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.92fcb34a94.