'A Peculiar Aesthetic': Julia Leigh's The Hunter and Sublime Loss

Scott Robert Brewer

Abstract


Julia Leigh's re-animation and pursuit of the extinct thylacine in her novel 'The Hunter' was for some reviewers an inappropriate appropriation of a Tasmanian icon. Martin Flanagan, while acknowledging the necessity of global engagement in issues such as extinction, criticised the cost of this engagement for local Tasmanian culture, writing in "The Age" “I’m all for global awareness. What I’m against is clear-felling local cultures. We all know where that leads.” However, Flanagan's alignment of environmental disaster and the neglect of local identity is not as transparent as he suggests, given that, in this case, the vessel for that local identity is the no longer local thylacine. This essay argues that "The Hunter" examines the intersection of global ecological imaginging and local identity around the concept of place. Employing a sublime aesthetic, the novel unearths the radical loss that underpins the construction of place, forming a representation of extinction that speaks for what is lost to the landscape.

Keywords


Julia Leigh; the sublime; ecocriticism; Tasmania

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