‘Chatter about Harriet’: Randolph Stow’s place-making and 'The Suburbs of Hell'

Kate Noske

Abstract


Randolph Stow’s ‘English’ novels, The Girl Green as Elderflower (1980) and The Suburbs of Hell (1984) offer complex representations of space in text, which layer narrative and memory each over the other to inform the known setting. The resulting conceptualisation of place holds at its centre a transnational fluidity, which, when combined with the overt textual links between the stories and Stow’s own life, suggests a unique practice of place-making within his writing as an oeuvre. Reading Stow’s The Suburbs of Hell along these lines suggests it has a greater connection to a more general consideration of Australian narratives of place that might be assumed given its English setting. But what is specifically functioning within Stow’s writing practice to create places which embody this transnational mutability? This paper will examine Stow’s practice in writing for the purpose of understanding the manner in which the text constructs its setting, and whether or not reading these connections between Stow’s life and the text are productive of a cognizance of place-making in terms of writing practice.

Keywords


Randolph Stow; expatriate literature; place-making

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References


Baker, Candida. ‘Interview with Randolph Stow’. Yacker 3: Australian Writers Talk about their Work. Sydney: Picador, 1989: 284-300.

Cole-Adams, Peter. ‘The divided affections of a restless novelist’, in ‘The Expatriates’, The Age, 12 August 1972: 12.

De Kretser, Michelle. ‘Like a Thief in the Night’, in Randolph Stow, The Suburbs of Hell. (Text Classics ed.) Melbourne: Text, 2015 [1984].

Falkiner, Suzanne. Mick: A life of Randolph Stow. Crawley, WA: UWA Publishing, 2016.

Hassall, Anthony. ‘Interview with Randolph Stow’, Australian Literary Studies 10 (1982): 311-325.

Stow, Randolph. [1964]. ‘Country & Western’, Westerly 55.2 (Nov. 2010): 108.

---. [1984]. The Suburbs of Hell. (Text Classics ed.) Melbourne: Text, 2015.

---. The Girl Green as Elderflower. London: Secker and Warburg, 1980.

---. The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea. London: McDonald and Co., 1965.


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