Romance Australia: Love in Australian Literature of Exploration


Using three Australian novels of exploration as examples, I should like to suggest that the romance of exploration is invariably the romance of love but that there is an attempt in these novels to keep this fact a secret. What one finds in Ernestine Hill's 1941 romance, My Love Must Wait: The Story of Matthew Flinders, Keneally's Antarctic novel, The Survivor, and Voss, is a sexual sub-text which erupts in the most interesting ways. It is a sexual sub-text which makes itself felt in various forms of deviance. Furthermore, deviance is the norm in Australian stories (where it is not in the story by Camus) for the simple reason that Australian explorers are men. The gender reversal in 'The Adulterous Woman'--where the 'explorer' is female--de-problematizes or 'naturalizes' this 'love-affair with place' and, by contrast, casts some light on obscurer aspects of the Australian explorer story where the same love-affair is nothing if not unnatural.

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Published 1 October 1987 in Volume 13 No. 2. Subjects: Australian literature - Comparisons with overseas literature, Exploration & explorers - Polar, Exploration & explorers of Australia (Land), Landscape & identity, Male / female relationships, Romance, Romantic literature, Romantic love, Sexual life & gender relations, Tom Keneally, Patrick White.

Cite as: Thompson, Christina. ‘Romance Australia: Love in Australian Literature of Exploration.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, 1987, doi: 10.20314/als.284278ff1f.