Australia: the Mystique of Failure

  • Carolyn Bliss
Part of the Studies in 20th Century Literature book series (STCL)


Until recently, the vast, arid, sparsely settled Australian interior was commonly referred to as the ‘Dead Heart’.1 However, such a label was deemed bad for business by the burgeoning Australian tourist industry. Nowadays, hearty and gregarious Ansett or TAA tour guides fill the long hours of bus rides from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock with cheerful ditties about Australia’s ‘living heart’, the ‘bloody good drinkers in the Northern Territory’, and ‘the rock (clap, clap) called Uluru’. But, unless the desert has been graced with recent rain, the tourist gazing at a heat-parched plain is more likely to subscribe to the notion of a dead heart — beating, if at all, in some macabre and spectral way. It may seem as though the heart of life itself has failed.


Australian Continent Supernatural Power Dark Night Australian Literature Dead Heart 
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  1. 1.
    See G. A. Wilkes, A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms ( Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1978 ) p. 109.Google Scholar
  2. 17.
    Peter Beatson, The Eye in the Mandala: Patrick White: A Vision of Man and God ( London: Paul Elek, 1976 ) p. 167.Google Scholar
  3. 21.
    Stephen E. Whicher (ed.), Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson ( Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1957 ) p. 102.Google Scholar

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© Carolyn Jane Bliss 1986

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  • Carolyn Bliss

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