Ludwig Leichhardt's Ghosts

October 2018
12 black and white illustrations
356 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781640140134
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC HIS004000, HIS014000, HIS037060

Ludwig Leichhardt's Ghosts

The Strange Career of a Traveling Myth

Andrew Wright Hurley

A fascinating cultural studies account of the "afterlife" of Leichhardt, revealing both German entanglement in British colonialism in Australia, and in a broader sense, what happens when we maintain an open stance to the ghosts of the past.

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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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


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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