Date of Award

1-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Prof. Andrew Taylor

Second Advisor

Dr. Jill Durey

Abstract

In a letter to Kate Baker, circa November 1910, Furphy wrote, '[b]ut ain't it anomalous that the erratic G.H [Grant Hervey], the saintly Dr. Strong, and the perverse T.C. [Tom Collins] should be working strenuously toward the same goal, namely, the uplifting and upbuildlng of Australia' (In Barnes and Hoffmann, eds, 1995:259. My Italics). This thesis is an Investigation of the ideas of uplifting and upbuildlng, and their relevance to Tom Collins and his concerns. The reason for Furphy waiting so long to lay bare his designs can only be speculated. Rather than accepting the general critical stance that Collins is unreliable, and that Furphy meticulously sets out to expose his flaws, this thesis argues that this is not the case. Since he distanced himself publicly from his own novels, refusing to have authorship credited to his name, Furphy wanted his readers to respond to Collins not as his literary creation, but as a fully developed and self-reliant identity capable of setting an example of what it means to uplift and upbuild a national community. The ideas of uplifting and upbuilding are simple enough to comprehend. Yet a proper appreciation of their scope in the novels requires a careful consideration of the historical context which links Collins to many issues of the 1880s. The chief issue is the textual construction of an Australian identity vis-á-vis an Anglo-Australian identity, and the Influence literature has on the common mind. Because of his Involvement with uplifting, upbuilding and self-reliance, there is a complexity to Tom Collins that is the result of his being the implied author, controlling the selection of characters and their narratives, as well as his own self-image, in the novels. The thesis argues that Collins' representation of "Collins", and other characters in the Riverina, is designed to represent the "right" qualities for an Australian character or type, which is consistent with uplifting and upbuilding. For these reasons, the novels are considered as Collins' strategic response to the contemporary representations of life in terms of their value to the search for meaning, and to ways of seeing and responding to the good of an Australian life. Indeed, the character of Tom Collins is very much concerned with personal and communal well-being in an environment of colonial loyalties, rivalry and division, and a landscape often categorized as exotically cruel or dangerous. Because this is so, Collins is concerned with the value of education, with the value of notable Western thinkers and artists, and with the shifting of ignorance for better judgment. He is also concerned with the benefits of democracy and the democratic temper over aristocracy and its emphasis on class and station. Collins is quite a modern thinker, deeply concerned with actions and consequences in art and life. He is a modern thinker because he believes, as Paine, Emerson and Whitman do, that the idea of natural rights is the cornerstone of moral progress for civilization, but only if men and women accept and practise the civil rights that necessarily come with the pursuit of liberty, fraternity, equality and happiness.

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