Archive for the ‘totally unrelated to travel’ Category

Poor Fellow My Country

June 6, 2009

Xavier Herbert’s “Poor Fellow My Country” has been sitting on my shelf for 11 years now – the olds gave it to me for Easter ’97.  First published in ’75, it’s set in the Northern Territory during the interwar years and follows the lives (amongst many others) of Jeremy DeLacy, a wealthy pastoralist, and his Aboriginal grandson, Prindy. At its core, the weighty tome is concerned with the struggle to create an identity for what Herbert calls “Terra Australis del Espiritu Santo”, or the southern land of the Holy Spirit…

As one who appreciates the odd rant, the sustained rage is impressive. The book itself is divided into three “books”, the titles and accompanying epitaphs of which give a pretty good snapshot:

Book One: Terra Australis – Blackman’s Idyll Despoiled by White Bullies, Thieves and Hypocrites
Book Two: Australia Felix – Whiteman’s Ideal Sold Out by Rogues and Fools
Book Three: Day of Shame – A Rabble Fled the Test of Nationhood

Without wanting to sound like a tit, it has been one of my life goals to get though this book, and while sitting in a Mae Sariang guest house – final success! It’s seriously long, just shy of 1500 pages, apparently making it one of the longest novels ever published. It has been a bit of a laugh carting it through Thailand. Other backpackers must think I’m reading the Bible – what an odd looking missionary!  I’m now going to indulge in Inspector Rebus for some page turning relief.