Journal of the European Association for Studies of Australia (JEASA), Vol.7 No.2, 2016.
Reading Mabo in Peter Goldsworthy’s Three Dog Night
Abstract: This essay offers an analysis and interpretation of Peter Goldsworthy's Three Dog Night (2003) as post-Mabo fiction. In doing so its broader aim is to expand the definition of post-Mabo fiction and to argue that no single historical event in recent decades has transformed the Australian literary imaginary more than the High Court's Mabo decision of 1992. I concede that Goldsworthy's text does not directly thematise the Mabo decision or native title. But in the portrayal of characters' everyday conversations, their discussions about art, history and the land, the text engages with post-Mabo discourses, that is to say, with the recognition of indigenous people's presence in the land, in history, and in political and social affairs, as opposed to their absence. Scholars in various fields of study-history, law, geography, film-have acknowledged the broad influence of Mabo in cultural production; literary scholars have too, though less so by way of close readings of specific texts. The examination of Three Dog Night, offered here, suggests Mabo's impact on fiction writing is more widespread and more sustained than generally considered.
Keywords: Peter Goldsworthy; Three Dog Night; Mabo; post-Mabo fiction; indigenous characters; Warlpiri; desert
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