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The Tomis Complex

Exile and Eros in Australian Literature

Irina Grigorescu Pana

The Tomis Complex discusses the ways in which the experience and the dilemmas of exile contribute to the shaping of Australian cultural and literary identity. The book, taking its cue from Malouf's rewriting of Ovid's exile at Tomis, looks at representations of marginality in various antipodean texts, from early colonial to modern and contemporary - among them Rachel Hennings's letters, H.H. Richardson's The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, White's Voss, Malouf's An Imaginary Life, Stow's Tourmaline, Carey's short stories - and argues that the «edge» is not in opposition, but in resonance with the «centre».
Using a clearly-defined set of literary and theoretic terms, predominantly from deconstruction and psychoanalysis, Irina Grigorescu Pana argues that exile also correlates with an eros factor: if, as the Australian poet Judith Wright writes, «love is like a foreign land», the foreign land is no less like love, as homeland and the «other country» become objects of desire to the protagonists of dislocation and colonization.
The new land is, thus, by extrapolation, a refiguration of the «old country» that is neither derivative, nor definitive, but an ongoing, spectacular translation: a tale of love and exile.