David Ireland: A Woman of the Future
The woman of the future is actually Alethea Hunt and Ireland gives us a narrative in his usual discontinuous form – odd portraits, comments, dialogues, etc. – of her story from birth (which she remembers well) up to the age of eighteen, when she disappears, possibly to become a leopard. Alethea is, of course, in many respects, Australia, the young kid on the block finding its way in the world but with the magic potential that Alethea has. She is highly successful in what she does, particularly at school, but she also retains an essential innocence, despite her sexual awakening and casual sexual activity with men of all ages. As for the future, this is only hinted at by Ireland, though it is clear that she belongs to a class called the Free, which does little or no work, leaving that to the servant class. Ireland also drops in bits of magic realism – Alethea’s transformation at the end but also the girl with vulvas in her armpit, the man with a coffin in his side, and others, all serving to disorient the reader.
First published 1979