Book summary: Ultima Thule

1929 BY HENRY HANDEL RICHARDSON

Ultima Thule is the final volume in Henry Handel Richardson's (Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson) The Fortunes of Richard Mahony trilogy. It is without question Richardson's most important work. Her brilliant analysis of human inadequacy, of the gulf between the ideal and achievement, and of the complexities of circumstance, environment and human frailty, make her one of Australia's most distinguished novelists. In The Fortunes of Richard Mahony she brings together knowledge of a significant period of Australian history, an understanding of human weakness, and a grasp of the principles and techniques of the best European and Russian writers of the nineteenth century. Ultima Thule opens with Mahony's financial ruin and explores the complete disintegration of his personality. The Australian countryside at its worst takes on almost human shapes of menace and hostility, and Mahony is finally broken as much by the country of his exile as by his own morbid sensitivity.

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