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Coorinna;: A novel of the Tasmanian uplands…
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Coorinna;: A novel of the Tasmanian uplands

by Erle Wilson

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When Erle Wilson warns the reader at the start of this novel to ‘look well at the she-wolf as she stands there in the dusk. She is one of the last of the thylacines, soon to disappear from the earth’, we know that this is going to be a story of loss, and this sombre, melancholic mood endures for the whole story, one of fighting against the odds and slowly losing.

It’s interesting the way Wilson uses anthropomorphism. The wolves have names as well as some of the other animas although rarely if they fall prey to one of the wolves. On the other hand it’s always ‘the shepherd’ and ‘his wife’ for their human predators. This is an odd and ironic reversal with human emotions, albeit subdued, given to the wolves while the humans are distanced from the reader and seen quite clearly as the dispossessors even if we are allowed to understand their motivation in defending their livelihood.

Today this story reverberates, coming as it does when mankind is destroying his whole environment and as our demise increasingly looks as inevitable as that of the thylacines. Wilson clearly has a poor opinion of humans – it’s ‘man’s herding of sheep in large numbers through the centuries that has changed them from individuals into brainless automata’ and ‘it is only in things of man’s contriving that fitness for a purpose may mean also ugliness’ whereas ‘in nature, grace and beauty go with efficiency’. Only one man briefly making an appearance – a naturalist – comes out well, a man who simply observes and marvels at nature and the wolves.

Set in the awe-inspiring wilds of Tasmania and forming much more than the backdrop to this story but a centrepiece equal to the wolves, I found this book left me with a yearning for something very fragile and which man is bent on destroying. ( )
  evening | Apr 30, 2017 |
This is one of my favorite novels. Written mostly from the perspective of a thylacine, covers from birth onward till death.
Only bad part is its soooo depressing.
  tsubgenius | Jun 16, 2006 |
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