ABSTRACT

This article examines the use of preternatural landscapes within the Australian novel Plains of Promise (1997) by the Aboriginal author Alexis Wright, exploring her themes of memory, reconciliation, and connection to “place.” The novel is concerned with the traumas of three generations of Aboriginal women who have been forcibly separated and displaced from their traditional homeland. There is a sense in which haunted and “sacred” country coincide, and at times, uncanny nature is able to empower the dispossessed via its role of witness. Rather than a relationship to country being represented as a special spiritual capacity of Aboriginal people, however, connection to place is productively utopian. Discussing the uses and limits of such labels as the “Postcolonial Gothic” and considering the preternatural's role, I argue that the novel provides a space for the unknown as Wright portrays the freedom to maintain difference as a kind of resistance to colonialism.

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