Telling Spaces: Reading Randolph Stow’s Expatriation


  • Kate Noske University of Western Australia


Randolph Stow, Expatriation, Transnationalism, England, Australia


Randolph Stow’s expatriate novels, Visitants (1979), The Girl Green as Elderflower (1980) and The Suburbs of Hell (1984) are often read as emerging from specific experiences in Stow’s expatriate life, beyond Australia—the two former as his ‘fever’ novels, informed by his work and illness in the Trobriand Islands and subsequent recovery in England; and the latter carrying the experience of an event from Stow’s Australian past into the setting of Harwich, England, where he lived from the early 1980s until his death in 2010. I have discussed elsewhere the overt connection in The Suburbs of Hell to Australia (Noske, ‘Chatter’), but it is also possible to read in the earlier texts connections with Stow’s life in Australia, particularly in his representation of landscape. Reading The Girl Green as Elderflower in this context opens interesting possibilities in understanding the spaces constructed within. This article will argue that Stow’s writing in the novel presents a complex transnationalism, one which challenges extant critical responses to Stow’s expatriation. It reads Stow’s place-making as embracing a fluidity that allows him to actively respond to postcolonialism as a global phenomenon and in doing so, examine Australian spaces through the lens of expatriation.


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