Displaced from the Sacred Sites: David Foster’s In the New Country and The Land Where Stories End

Susan Lever


David Foster’s novels consistently interpret Australia as 'colonial', with its white settlers denied any spiritual connection with the natural environment, and its indigenous people displaced and damaged by white settlement. Moonlite (1981) follows the displacement of indigenous people from the outlying islands of Scotland to become the settlers of a colony like Australia, and in turn displace the Aborigines. The Glade Within the Grove proposes a radical new religion, based on the castration rites of the ancient world, that might overcome white Australians’ alienation from the land with a new commitment to the environment. But Foster’s most recent novels suggest a loss of hope in Australia, as In the New Country offers a farcical parody of The Glade, and The Land Where Stories End seeks spiritual consolation in a fairytale set in seventh-century Ireland, that recalls the sacred sites of the Scottish islanders in Moonlite. This article examines these two novels as the impossible search of a 'colonial mongrel' for a sacred place, in Ireland or Australia, and the signs that such a place may belong in a lost time, only accessible through writing. In Foster’s novels writing is the last resort for the sacred, in a world engulfed by a global economic imperialism.


David Foster; spirituality; sacred sites; Irish spiritualism

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