Tim Winton's "European" Novel The Riders


  • Ivan Maver


Not much has been written about Tim Winton's recently

published novel


The Riders (1994 ), which was shortlisted for the

Booker Prize in 1995. Referred to as his first "adult" novel since


(1991), it traces the lives of the main character Scully

and his seven-year-old daughter Billie, who travel throughout

Europe in search of Jennifer, their wife and mother, respectively,

only to realize at last that she will never come back to them again.

The Celtic "riders" Scully catches a glimpse of at the Leap castle in

Ireland at the beginning of the novel, and which both himself and

his daughter Billie see again at the end, known from some of the

poems written by W.B. Yeats and, more recently, from Patrick



Riders in the Chariot, apocalyptically (like the Riders of

the Apocalypse) anticipate the dissolution of his marriage. This is

indeed reconfirmed during his second sighting of the riders towards

the end of the novel, when he returns to Ireland with Billie only to

start his life all over again with a different set of priorities. One of

the most qualified attempts trying to define the two visions of the

riders described in the novel, in terms of the post-Saussurean

concept of the sign, is a recent article by Andrew Taylor "What can

be read, and what can only be seen in Tim Winton's fiction"

(Taylor 1996).