Oscar and Lucinda
"Peter Carey's eargerly awaited new novel imagines Australia's youth, before its dynamic passions became dangerous habits. It is also a startling and unusual love story.
"Oscar is a young English clergyman who has broken with his past and developed a disturbing talent for gambling. A country girl of singular ambition, Lucinda moves to Sydney, driven by dreams of self-reliance and the building of an industrial Utopia. Together this unlikely pair create and are created by the spectacle of mid-nineteenth century Australia.
"Peter Carey's visionary brilliance, and his capacity to delight and surprise, propel this story to its stunning conclusion."
"Luminous and magical, Oscar and Lucinda dances with a shimmer of light and dark as its two noble gamblers play out dreams of God and glass. A spectacular achievement." - Helen Daniel
"Oscar and Lucinda are two of the most perfectly realised characters in modern fiction. An immensely skilful and absorbing juxtaposition of a gently comic, obliquely ironic, and deeply compassionate vision of human existence." - David Williamson
"The most audacious and rewarding of all Carey's novels." - Geoffrey Dutton
"Peter Carey is a complete writer. He has all the skills, and knows all the tricks. He can combine a genius for stark, under-stated comedy, with a nearly Dickensian generosity of description; the result is that hardly a character passes through this novel without Carey enlightening us to the peculiarities of physiognomy, psychology and personal history that establish that character's unique and lasting patent over a portion of the reader's memory." - Aravind Adiga, Second Circle
If there was a bishop, my mother would have him to tea. She would sit him, not where you would imagine, not at the head of the big oval table, but in the middle of the long side, where, with his back to the view of the Bellinger River, he might gaze at the wall which held the sacred glass dageurreotype of my great-grandfather, the Reverend Oscar Hopkins (1841-66).
These bishops were, for the most part, bishops of Grafton. Once there was a bishop of Wollongong, travelling through. There was also a canon, and various other visiting or relieving reverends. Sometimes they were short-sighted or inattentive and had to have the dageurreotype handed to them across the table. My mother crooked her finger as she picked up her tea-cup. She would not tell the bishops that my great-grandfather's dog-collar was an act of rebellion. They would look at a Victorian clergyman. They would see the ramrod back, the tight lips, the pinched nose, the long stretched neck and never once, you can bet, guess, that this was caused by Oscar Hopkins holding his breath, trying to stay still for two minutes when normally - what a fidgeter - he could not manage a tenth of a second without scratching his ankle or crossing his leg.
From the UQP hardback edition, 1988.
Oscar and Lucinda won the 1988 Booker Prize, the 1988 Miles Franklin Award, and the National Book Council's Banjo Award for 1989.
Brown University in the USA has an extensive site dedicated to the novel.
In 1997 Oscar and Lucinda was adapted for film with a script by Laura Jones. The film was directed by Gillian Armstrong and featured Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett. There is an unofficial website devoted to the film.
Other Web Pages:
"The Anarchy of Oscar and Lucinda" by Katherine Lesch
"Constructing the Past as a Story in Oscar and Lucinda" by Maya Rao
"Glass and Water: Symbolic Imagery in Oscar and Lucinda and Waterland" by Barnali Tahbildar
This page and its contents are copyright © 1997-2005 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Peter Carey Page.
Last modified: July 14, 2005.