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Gentlemen of fashion

Bolton, G. (2002) Gentlemen of fashion. The Courier - Mail, 11 May 2002 .


[Robert Tilney] makes the point that few navigators made old bones, but the great survivor among his generation was the contentious William Bligh. Bligh was also the central character of John Toohey's first novel. Toohey seems to retain his fascination for driven and eccentric ships' captains, as his second novel, Quiros, is based on the voyage of the Spaniard who, in 1605, went in quest of the Great South Land to claim it for Christ.

The story of Quiros provided inspiration 40 years ago for the Catholic poet James McAuley, but Toohey's Quiros is a darker and more tormented figure. The historical narrative states that Quiros, having sailed as lieutenant with an older navigator, Mendocca, in two voyages to the Solomon Islands, became convinced that they had not been far from the Southern Hemisphere equivalent of the Eurasian landmass.

In Toohey's hands Quiros figures as an obsessed idealist planning Utopian cities in the new land that awaits his party and deteriorating under disappointment to become a crazed and vindictive tyrant. On the journey they encounter islands where the inhabitants are hostile and others where hospitable pagans offer fleshly temptations, but they continue to a point of no return where the crew rejects Quiros's authority and return home.

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Vice Chancellery
Publisher: News Digital Media
Publisher's Website:
Notes: Newspaper article
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