Strandloper

Strandloper

by Alan Garner
     
 

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Based on the true story of William Buckley, an 18th-century man from rural England, this unique novel begins with a young William preparing for the annual festival known as Shick-Shack Day. William has been chosen as the village's Shick-Shack—an ancient fertility figure—but when the local landowner discovers the celebration in the church, William is

Overview

Based on the true story of William Buckley, an 18th-century man from rural England, this unique novel begins with a young William preparing for the annual festival known as Shick-Shack Day. William has been chosen as the village's Shick-Shack—an ancient fertility figure—but when the local landowner discovers the celebration in the church, William is arrested, tried, and banished to Australia. Arriving in the strange continent, he escapes and wanders for more than a year before he is discovered by a group of Aborigines who believe him to be Murrangurk, the great hero, lawgiver, and healer of their people. Later William is spotted by English colonialists, granted a full pardon, and allowed to return to England where me must encounter the life he left behind.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A strange mix of realistic narrative and incantatory folk materials by Garner (author of a number of YA and children's fantasy novels) results in a work that is likely to leave most readers scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Set in the late 18th century, it's the story of William Buckley (a real person, the dust jacket informs us), an English villager who, having performed in a reenactment of an ancient fertility ritual, is arrested, charged with "lewdness and Popery," and transported to a prison camp in "New Holland" (Australia). After escaping, Buckley is taken in by a tribe of Aborigines (who call themselves "the People") and soon thereafter comes to be revered as their hero-god Murrangurk, whose appearance was long ago foretold in the prophetic creation ritual they call "the Dreaming" (at which skill the transformed Buckley proves almost preternaturally adept). Eventually spotted by white colonialists, Buckley/Murrangurk/Strandloper (this last term denoting a further incarnation) is employed as a translator and given a "King's Pardon," then returns to his Cheshire home for the mixed blessing of a hesitant reunion with the woman he formerly loved, who may have borne his child. All of this is related in a crabbed, terse prose compounded of rustic British slang, Miltonic verse, folk songs and nursery rhymes, and the ornate language of both Church of England rituals and the Latin Mass. It's often very beautiful, especially when describing tenets of the Aborigines' faith ("In the Beginning, when the waters parted, and the Ancestors dreamed all that is, and woke the life that slept, the sky lay on the earth, and the sun could not move, until the Magpie lifted the earth with a stick").

Too often, though, this severely gnomic fiction scorns to render scene or incident clearly, leaving even the most willing reader unsure of what's happening on any given page. This may be a marvelous novel. It's hard to tell.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781860461613
Publisher:
Random House UK
Publication date:
07/03/1997
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.54(d)

Meet the Author


Alan Garner has written novels for children and adults, among them The Moon of Gomrath, The Owl Service, and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

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