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Wanting / Richard Flanagan.

By: Flanagan, Richard, 1961-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: North Sydney, N.S.W. : Vintage Books, 2008, 2012Description: 252 pages ; 22 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781742755120.Subject(s): Franklin, Jane, Lady, 1791-1875 -- Fiction | Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870 -- Fiction | Franklin, John Sir, 1786-1847 -- Fiction | School text | Aboriginal Australians -- Fiction | Australia -- History -- 1788-1900 -- FictionDDC classification: A823.3 Summary: "It is 1837. A young Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, is running through the long wet grass of an island at the end of the world to get help for her dying father, an Aboriginal chieftain. Twenty years later, on at island at the centre of the world, the most famous novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, realises he is about to abandon his wife, risk his name, and forever after be altered because of his inability any longer to control his intense wanting. Connecting the two events are the most celebrated explorer of the age, Sir John Franklin - then governor of Van Diemens Land - and his wife, Lady Jane, who adopt Mathinna, seen as one of the last of a dying race, as an experiment. Lady Jane believes the distance between savagery and civilisation is the learned capacity to control wanting. The experiment fails, the Franklins throw the child onto the streets and into a life of prostitution and alcoholism. A few years later Mathinna is found dead in a puddle. She is nineteen years old. By then Sir John too is dead, lost in the blue ice of the Arctic seeking the North West Passage. A decade later evidence emerges that in its final agony, Franklins expedition resorted to the level and practice of savages: cannibalism. Lady Jane enlists Dickens aid to put an end to such scandalous suggestions, and Dickens becomes ever more entranced in the story of men entombed in ice, recognising in its terrible image his own frozen inner life. He produces and stars in a play inspired by Franklins fate to give story to his central belief: that discipline and will can conquer desire. And yet the play will bring him to the point where he is finally no longer able to control his own wanting and the consequences it brings. Based on historic events, WANTING is a novel about art, love, and the way in which life is finally determined never by reason, but only ever by wanting"--Provided by publisher.
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"It is 1837. A young Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, is running through the long wet grass of an island at the end of the world to get help for her dying father, an Aboriginal chieftain. Twenty years later, on at island at the centre of the world, the most famous novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, realises he is about to abandon his wife, risk his name, and forever after be altered because of his inability any longer to control his intense wanting. Connecting the two events are the most celebrated explorer of the age, Sir John Franklin - then governor of Van Diemens Land - and his wife, Lady Jane, who adopt Mathinna, seen as one of the last of a dying race, as an experiment. Lady Jane believes the distance between savagery and civilisation is the learned capacity to control wanting. The experiment fails, the Franklins throw the child onto the streets and into a life of prostitution and alcoholism. A few years later Mathinna is found dead in a puddle. She is nineteen years old. By then Sir John too is dead, lost in the blue ice of the Arctic seeking the North West Passage. A decade later evidence emerges that in its final agony, Franklins expedition resorted to the level and practice of savages: cannibalism. Lady Jane enlists Dickens aid to put an end to such scandalous suggestions, and Dickens becomes ever more entranced in the story of men entombed in ice, recognising in its terrible image his own frozen inner life. He produces and stars in a play inspired by Franklins fate to give story to his central belief: that discipline and will can conquer desire. And yet the play will bring him to the point where he is finally no longer able to control his own wanting and the consequences it brings. Based on historic events, WANTING is a novel about art, love, and the way in which life is finally determined never by reason, but only ever by wanting"--Provided by publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

The latest novel from acclaimed Australian author Flanagan (Gould's Book of Fish; The Unknown Terrorist) is a meditation on the power of desire to transform lives. In an isolated Australian penal colony in the 1840s, an Aboriginal girl named Mathinna is adopted by the English governor, celebrated Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane. Devastated by her inability to bear a child, Lady Jane longs to coddle Mathinna but instead sets her on a rigid course of "improvement." Their thwarted relationship and Mathinna's subsequent emotional devastation form the aching core of the novel. A decade later, as Sir John and his crew slowly starve to death after an Arctic shipwreck, a London writer named Charles Dickens finds himself haunted by the story of the failed expedition. This obsession becomes The Frozen Deep, a play through which Dickens seeks to redeem his own emptiness. As always, Flanagan's prose is beautifully crafted, at once elegant and astonishing. This is Flanagan's most accessible work to date, and it should draw new fans. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/09; for a very different take on Charles Dickens, see Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens, reviewed on p. 96.-Ed.]-Kelsy Peterson, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Flanagan follows The Unknown Terrorist with an intricate exploration of civility and savagery that hinges on two famous 19th-century Englishmen: Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin and Charles Dickens. In 1839 Tasmania, a tribe of Aboriginals are in the Van Diemen's Land penal colony, soon to be governed by Franklin and his wife, Lady Jane. The Franklins adopt a native girl, Mathinna, whom Lady Jane hopes to use as proof that civility lies in all human beings, even savages. Years later, in 1854 London, Lady Jane asks Charles Dickens to help defend her late husband's honor from accusations of cannibalism. Dickens, devastated by his daughter's death from pneumonia, publishes a defense of Franklin's honor, then develops a stage adaptation of Franklin's demise that forces the writer to face his suffering and introduces him to a comely young actress. The interlaced stories focus on conquering the yearning that exists both in the Aboriginals and the noble English gentlemen, and though Flanagan has a tendency to hammer home his ideas, his prose is strong and precise, and the depiction of desire's effects is sublime. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Acclaimed Tasmanian author Flanagan (The Unknown Terrorist, 2006) explores the pursuit and denial of desire as it affects individual lives, even history, in his fifth novel. With his native country (then called Van Diemen's Land) as the starting point, he elucidates the Victorian contention that only savages such as the native Aborigines are ruled by their passions. Yet when Sir John Franklin takes governance of the land in 1836, his wife is so taken with Aborigine orphan Mathinna that she adopts the child, intending to make her a proper Englishwoman. Years later in London, Lady Jane Franklin enlists Charles Dickens to write a defense against the charge of cannibalism on her husband's long-missing Arctic expedition. Obsessed with the expedition's story, Dickens writes (in collaboration with Wilkie Collins) and stars in the play The Frozen Deep, during which the writer who trumpeted the joys of family life falls in love with young actress Ellen Ternan and soon divorces his wife. Although the bare bones of this novel are historically accurate, connecting them to focus on desire seems a stretch, but Flanagan's masterful probing of emotion with his vibrant prose helps compensate for problems of plot.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2009 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Adventurous Tasmanian writer Flanagan (The Unknown Terrorist, 2008, etc.) skillfully combines several partially known historical events to create complex and riveting fiction. His fifth novel features two preeminent Victorian figures: beloved novelist Charles Dickens and polar explorer Sir John Franklin, whose search for the fabled "Northwest Passage" to the Arctic ended in failure and death. In this inventive fusion of their separate histories, Dickens accedes to widowed Lady Jane Franklin's appeal that he publish conclusive disproof of allegations that the doomed northern travelers resorted to cannibalism. Reaching back into several characters' past lives, Flanagan vividly depicts the Franklins' experience on the penal colony island of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), where Sir John acts as governor to a largely aboriginal population, and his fastidious wife conceives grand "ideas for projects and ventures and organizations." One such "project" is the childless Lady Jane's determination to adopt and civilize a charming orphaned aboriginal girl, an act of willed kindness demonstrably doomed to failure. In the novel's present day, we observe Dickens eternally hard at work, pulled in far too many directions at once, ever more estranged from his fat, unlovely wife Catherineherself burdened by having borne him ten children. Dickens' obsessive fascination with the tragic story of the Franklin expedition leads him to write a play about it with colleague Wilkie Collins and to star in it himself. The great author's encounter with beautiful young actress Ellen Ternan erodes his belief in his own stoical forbearance; he learns that he, like the Franklins in their insular Southern Pacific paradise, "could no longer deny wanting." Everything dovetails beautifully, if rather too neatly, as the richly imagined multiple narrative arrives at its several sorrowful conclusions. An ingenious, thoughtful and potent demonstration of this assured author's imaginative versatility. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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