Ludwig Leichhardt`s Ghosts - The Strange Career of a Traveling Myth

Ludwig Leichhardt`s Ghosts - The Strange Career of a Traveling Myth

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After the renowned Prussian scientist and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt left the Australian frontier in 1848 on an expedition to cross the continent, he disappeared without a trace. Andrew Hurley's book complicates that view by undertaking an afterlife biography of "the Humboldt of Australia." Although Leichhardt's remains were never located, he has been sought and textually "found" many times over, particularly in Australia and Germany. He remains a significant presence, a highly productive ghost who continues to "haunt" culture.
Leichhardt has been employed for all sorts of political purposes. In imperial Germany, he was a symbol of pure science, but also a bolster for colonialism. In the 20th century, he became a Nazi icon, a proto-socialist, the model for the protagonist of Nobel laureate Patrick White's famous novel Voss, as well as a harbinger of multiculturalism. He has also been put to use by Australian Indigenous cultures. Engaging Leichhardt's ghosts and those who have sought him yields a fascinating case study of German entanglement in British colonialism in Australia. It also shows how figures from the colonial past feature in German and Australian social memory and serve present-day purposes. In an abstract sense, this book uses Leichhardt to explore what happens when we maintain an open stance to the ghosts of the past.

Andrew Wright Hurley is Associate Professor in German Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. His book Into the Groove: Popular Music and Contemporary German Fiction was published by Camden House in 2015.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 360 pages
  • 158 x 231 x 28mm | 728g
  • Columbia, MD, United States
  • English
  • 1640140131
  • 9781640140134

Table of contents

Discovering, Mourning and Honoring Leichhardt between Australia and German-Speaking Europe, 1848-1858
Ferdinand von Mueller, the "Ladies Committee" and German-Australian Seekers of Leichhardt
Taking Leichhardt Home to Germany with Georg von Neumayer
An Interwar Lull, or When Leichhardt Was Found as a "friend of the Aborigine"?
Nazi Leichhardt
Leichhardt the Cold Warrior
Leichhardt Explodes, with No End in Sight
Works Cited
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Review quote

[Hurley's book is] fresh, compelling, and often surprising in its insights. . . . [This] is an ambitious book, covering almost two centuries of Australian, German, and transnational history. . . . [It] will be of value to many students and scholars of history, literature, and culture, including those interested in cultures of commemoration, imperial and colonial history, Indigenous-settler relations, migration, social history, transnational history, and women's history. HISTORICAL RECORDS OF AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE [Hilary Howes] The Australian Germanist Andrew Hurley presents [with this book] the first history of the reception - up to the present day - of the German explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who in 1844/45 became the first European to cross the Australian continent from East to West, and who in 1848, on his third attempt to travel from today's Brisbane to Swan River (Perth), disappeared. ZEITSCHRIFT FUER RELIGION UND GEISTESGESCHICHTE [Helmut Peitsch]

A deeply researched metabiography in which Hurley has woven together many disparate threads of the Leichhardt story to produce a more complete whole. Besides being an impressive scholarly work, Hurley writes beautifully and his command of language makes this book enjoyable to read. AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND HISTORY
BR> This is a work of great range and erudition. Its achievement is not to solve the Leichhardt puzzle, but to explain why and how it has reverberated through the years, in Australia and across the world. --Peter Monteath, Professor of History, Flinders University
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