- In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare
Harvill, 320 pp, £20.00, November 2004, ISBN 1 84343 157 2
Tasmania has long been a convenient receptacle for Australia’s gothic fantasies and projections. This is in part because of the island’s relative isolation, and because convicts continued to be ‘sent down’ to Van Diemen’s Land for slightly longer than to other colonies. But the concentration on Tasmania helped those on the mainland forget their own unsavoury past. It’s also true, however, that if you’re wearing your gothic glasses, the Tasmanian cognoscenti can resemble a storybook close-knit family with codes, and dark silences, and rules about who is allowed to speak and who isn’t.