The Pursuit of Oblivion: In Flight from Suburbia


This essay is an exploration of the suburban imaginary in David Ireland's The Glass Canoe (1976), Bruce Dawe's Condolences of the Season (1971) and Christos Tsiolkas' Loaded (1995). While the foregrounded concern of these works has as much to do with the alienation of labour under modern industrial capitalism, suburbia—as one of the hideous progeny spawned by modern industrialisation (the factory is another)—is represented as a site of repulsion and disgust, a zone of abomination, which precipitates the masculine subject into ever more violent and brutal acts of self-maintenance. While each of these works contains powerful insights into the brutalisation of humanity by the modern industrial system, they also exhibit a slippage in which an attack on suburbia displaces an attack on industrialisation. Corresponding to this demonisation of suburbia and the everyday, is a displacement of class antagonism by gender antagonism (Cross 116).

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Published 1 November 1998 in Writing the Everyday: Australian Literature and the Limits of Suburbia. Subjects: Alienation, Gender roles, Manufacturing, Modern life, Social change, Suburbs, Christos Tsiolkas, David Ireland, Bruce Dawe.

Cite as: Kirkby, Joan. ‘The Pursuit of Oblivion: In Flight from Suburbia.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 18, no. 4, 1998, doi: 10.20314/als.377c84c7f2.