Abstract: In his postmodern novel Homesickness (1980), Australian novelist Murray Bail depicts a group of Australian tourists on a package tour through diverse countries—including an unnamed African country, the UK and Ecuador—and cities of London, New York and Moscow. In addressing the archetype of the tourist, for which the mobile Australian is judged suitably representative, Bail explores the various perspectives of his diverse group in their picaresque encounters with unfamiliar, Other landscapes and people. In particular he focusses on the nature of their descriptions of such encounters in an increasingly virtual or curated world of global tourism (its museums, guides, exhibitions). This is seen in the dialogic, arguably appropriating, acts of naming, identifying, epistolary accounts (notably in postcards) and also photography, including by the group’s tellingly blind photographer. From a postcolonial perspective, Bail’s tourist group can be considered akin to the settler, albeit in a global situation in which places visited and their people are viewed as Other. This article primarily addresses Bail’s examination of the nature of human apprehension of unfamiliar and familiar worlds through the binaries of distance/closeness, as well as though ratiocinative, visual, classifying, collecting impulses as distinct from a more chaotic, random indeterminate acceptance. A central anchoring, comparative reference point is the familiar (the Australian home, landscape, vegetation and its various stereotypes including in unfamiliar places) and the alternative counter viewpoints of non-travellers. Consideration is given to themes concerning consciousness and the visual, including perspectives of philosopher Maurice Blanchot and postmodern theorist Ihab Hassan.
Keywords: travel; naming; ratiocinative; colonising; Other; indeterminacy; home;