“A comfortable distance”: Weird Melancholy and Escapism in Casella’s The Sensualist

Author(s): 

Giovanni Messina

Journal of the European Association for Studies of Australia (JEASA), Vol.6 No.1, 2015.

 

Giovanni Messina

“A comfortable distance”: Weird Melancholy and Escapism in Casella’s The Sensualist

 

Abstract: This article deals with Casella's re-reading of  the representation of Sicily as a bucolic land. In his novel The Sensualist, he interprets the pastoral and picturesque representation of the Island as a form of escapism from the sterile and dead centre of the outback on which feelings of weird melancholy are projected. Deeply melancholic, its characters have a double feeling of hate towards a colonial past that continues to haunt them due to the lost innocence of the Australian colonial dream which turned into a discourse of violence, and love due to the hope of recreating that lost innocence and optimism and wash away the polluting memories of the past. However, there is no possibility of recreating such an innocence and for the melancholic subject the only way out is to search for it in a land which is spatially and temporally distant. By drawing on Freud and Kristeva, it will also be suggested that Casella seems to suggest that the white subjects of the novel, but also Australia's society, will always be haunted by their loss of innocence unless they rethink their white identity as fragmented and acknowledge the polluting memories of the past. And as a consequence, they will always need a place like Sicily as a fetish that recreates their fantasy of superiority.

 

Keywords: melancholy; escapism; Sicily; colonialism

 

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Copyright © Giovanni Messina 2015. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.

 

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