Bodies that Speak : Mediating Female Embodiment in Tim Winton’s Fiction

As a 'regional celebrity writer' of national and international acclaim, Australian writer Tim Winton contributes to the process of re- defining sustaining myths of identity and belonging in the white Australian imaginary (see Huggan 7). Emerging as a West Australian prodigy, Winton hit the popular nerve right from the beginning as the quintessential national Australian writer of the 'post-feminist' age - a role that now, thirty years after the publication of his first novel An Open Swimmer (1982), is firmly rooted in an exceptionally successful literary career, crowned by four Miles Franklin Awards and two Man Booker Prize nominations. Even today, in his early fifties, Winton still largely appears the way he did when he was twenty. His look is defined by his characteristic long ponytail, sun-impacted skin and casual outfits. He is the affable but intensely private and sensitive 'nature-boy' from the Western frontier, deeply committed to both family and the land around him (see Robert Dixon 252-53). As the epitome of a new masculinity that is strangely familiar, Winton's male protagonists are often presented as down-to-earth, unassuming, grateful, egalitarian, emphatically (extra)ordinary, emotional and sometimes brutally honest, guided by an intractable Christian morality and faith. But what is it that we miss in our devotion to a writer who understands so well how to enthral with nostalgic descriptions of love, death, childhood, youth and the overarching spirituality of a harsh but alluring landscape?

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Published 1 June 2012 in Volume 27 No. 2. Subjects: Australian literature and writers, Femininity, Literary criticism, Literary portrayal, Self harm, Women - Literary portrayal, Tim Winton.

Cite as: Schuerholz, Hannah. ‘Bodies that Speak : Mediating Female Embodiment in Tim Winton’s Fiction.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 27, no. 2, 2012, doi: 10.20314/als.341966273b.