Read Strandloper by Alan Garner Online


Based on the true story of William Buckley, a bricklayer, the novel begins in the rural Cheshire of the 1790s as William and Het are making ready for the annual festival known as Shick-Shack Day. William has been chosen as the village's Shick-Shack - an ancient fertility figure, face blackened with charcoal and bedecked with boughs of oak - and Het is to be his Teaser. ButBased on the true story of William Buckley, a bricklayer, the novel begins in the rural Cheshire of the 1790s as William and Het are making ready for the annual festival known as Shick-Shack Day. William has been chosen as the village's Shick-Shack - an ancient fertility figure, face blackened with charcoal and bedecked with boughs of oak - and Het is to be his Teaser. But when the local landowner discovers the celebration in the church, William is arrested and sentenced to transportation to New Holland. As he is taken from the church, he vows to Het that he will return. He endures the horrors of the Transport, and lands in the distant continent. Determined to return to Het, William escapes the camp and walks for more than a year in the unbearable heat, convinced that, if he keeps going North, he will reach China and then soon be back home. Finally, starved and delirious, he collapses having crawled to the top of a hillock. It is here, unconscious, on what is the burial mound of Murrangurk, a great hero of their People, that William is discovered by Aborigines, who believe that he is Murrangurk returned from the dead. Over the next thirty-two years, William becomes Murrangurk in reality - the law-giver and healer of the People, a highly initiated, powerful and holy man - brought from the dead for a quest that only he can achieve. When he does, at last, return to England, it is neither as William Buckley nor as Murrangurk, but as "Strandloper." And in a magnificent and redemptive climax, the Dreaming of the Aborigines and the ancient magic of England are fused as one....

Title : Strandloper
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781860461606
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Strandloper Reviews

  • Shomeret
    2019-02-23 19:59

    I very much enjoyed Strandloper. Other readers might have trouble with the dialects in this novel. I was able to decipher them without much difficulty, but the author gives no explanations or assistance to readers. Garner’s radical divergence from history might disturb those who prefer their historical fiction to be closer to verifiable facts. When historical figures are fictionalized, it’s delightful when the result speaks to me on a personal level, and is congruent with my own values. This is a lovely fiction from my perspective. It reminds me of all those very compelling Pagan martyr fictions about Hypatia of Alexandria. It’s too bad that the truth about Hypatia is more complex. I am someone who tends to research historical fiction when I’m interested in the subject it covers. So I proceeded to uncover the truth about William Buckley, the historical protagonist of Strandloper. Please note that if you are searching for him on the internet, you should add Australia to your search terms to avoid being deluged with results related to the conservative pundit William F. Buckley.Even though Strandloper can't be considered historically accurate, it was an amazingly good story. It also led me to learn a bit more about Australian history through the research I did on William Buckley after reading it. I'm glad I selected this book as my Australian read for the Around the World challenge. For the complete review including discussion of the real William Buckley and historical resources about him, see the latest post on my new book blog at:

  • Althea Ann
    2019-03-07 19:02

    A short novel very loosely based on the experiences of William Buckley, a British man transported to Australia who lived among the Aborigines there. It's an impressive piece of literature; but the ways in which Garner's tale differs from the historical events is very illuminating of Garner's concerns.One of the main themes of the book is drawing a parallel between the 'primitive' rituals and beliefs of the Aborigines and those of rural Britain - this is done masterfully. It's the sort of goal that, described briefly, sounds doubtful - but Garner describes individuals whose ignorance, from a modern perspective, is shocking - but does so in a way that gives a sense of a deep and abiding respect for human dignity. (This theme of rural ignorance tempered with an ancient dignity is also found in Garner's novel, Thursbitch.)Does it reflect reality? That's another question. Garner is deeply interested in linguistics and the power of language. In his tale, Buckley's 'crime' is accepting lessons in reading and writing from a local aristocrat's son. (In truth, he was accused of receiving stolen goods, and was illiterate throughout his long life.)Garner is also a folklorist, specializing in the traditions of the British Isles. The English village that he describes is suffused with 'pagan' rituals, coexisting with Christianity. The rhymes and language of these traditions, as well as the dialect of the villagers, is vivid - the reader can practically hear the songs and the speech of the people. This depiction's convincingness depends on showing a remote, isolated population. Buckley is described as never having been 10 miles from the place of his birth. History records that, on the contrary, he'd been in the army, fought in the Netherlands, and was arrested in London.This is not to say that I appreciate any less a story which is in large part about the magic of words. But Garner's 'wise fools' are, in a way, as mythical as the folkloric legends he studies. The bittersweet romance of the story, with Buckley being sustained by the token his sweetheart gave him, and his dream of returning home to his true love, is heartbreakingly effective. The truth, of course, is that Buckley never returned to England (nor was he ever so naive as to think that he would walk home through China). But it makes a good tale; and rings true, in the way that folk tales can often be more true than history.

  • Abailart
    2019-03-15 23:54

    Apart from reading some of Garner's books to classes of kids many decades ago, have not looked since. Chance put it in my hand. Wonderful at every level. You have to be engaged and hear the text. Hear the words, the dialect, the music, the animality and sounds of a myriad nature. You have to be alert to, to hear, an intense authorial voice that pulls together in what is a very short book vast sweeps of history and space. You need to go down in the convicts' quarters, follow the sea imagery, the rivers and streams, the bushland and plains, verdancies and aridities, fire and growth. Paganism and Christianity, time-loaded and timelessness, the routine quotidian of human injustice and fun in causing pain, love, togetherness, aloneness. It's a palimpsest. You have to try to match the author, and be aware of it at every level.

  • Cooper Renner
    2019-03-12 00:51

    Strandloper is a masterwork from one of the English language's most important writers. After reading this one, readers are advised to go on to Thursbitch and the allegedly-for-young-readers Owl Service, Stone Book Quartet and Red Shift. Garner is far more significant than our literati have yet realized.

  • Robert Wechsler
    2019-03-12 23:37

    This may be the most baffling novel I’ve ever read. I don’t know how to describe it, much less critique it. I can certainly say that it is a singular reading experience, and for that I am greatly appreciative. It is a book that requires, at least on the first reading, the surrender of one’s faculties, especially one’s critical faculties. Not that it wouldn’t be interesting to criticize, but it would get in the way of the experience. This novel requires what Keats called “negative capability.” My one Goodreads friend who has reviewed the book, Abailart, says one must remain “alert” to the book’s qualities. That’s a good way of putting it. Alert and accepting, letting oneself go with the flow, wherever the author takes you.I can’t say I “enjoyed” reading the novel, but it is a special, valuable experience with many rewards, especially in its rhythms and language, from Cheshire dialect to Aboriginal spiritual language.

  • Vishvapani
    2019-03-18 18:00

    What a book: a short shamanic epic that is utterly without pretension. Garner's novels are almost all about one place - his part of Cheshire - and their scope comes from his exploration of what he calls (in Boneland) 'Deep Place': a sense that the past is present, and that ancestors who once lived there are linked spiritually with those who live there now. Strandloper finds a way to journey away from Cheshire through the story of William Buckley, seemingly a real person who lived in Cheshire at the end of the Eighteenth Century, was transported to Australia, escaped and lived with the native Australians, becoming a holy man. Eventually, as white colonisation spreads across the continent, he returns home. It's a simple enough story, and it's a short book, but Garner's writing is unique and his approach is unlike what you find in all but a few historical novels. He has always been a master of brevity, of terse, Anglo-Saxon diction and sometimes of dialect. Here, that style lends itself to an impressionistic evocation of Buckley and his world that takes you not just into another time, but into another kind of consciousness. He enters an alternative way of being by evoking a way of speaking, and by extension a way of thinking, that comes from the past. Even as a Cheshire-man, Buckley has a quasi-shamanic sense of his environment and the forces at work around him. Following his arrest, the transportation ship is a jumble of speech-registers and dialects: the journey, we sense, isn't just taking him to another continent. The fulfilment comes when he is adopted by the aboriginal people, who recognise him as a Dreamer, someone capable of mastering the spirit world which is at the heart of their experience. All this is conveyed in the symbolic language of shamanic consciousness. Finally, he returns home, but remains attuned to the spirit world and finds its presence in Cheshire, where he continues his rituals, dreams and dances.The closest writer I know to Garner is Ted Hughes. This is crow poetry become a novel.

  • Veronica
    2019-03-19 00:48

    I was spurred to read this by The Voice That Thunders. Garner put his heart and soul into this novel. It draws on his eternal themes of loops of time, myth, identity, spirituality, but it's much harder work for the reader than his nominally children's books. There's no hand-holding by the author -- you are left to figure out for yourself what the Aborigines are doing.It's not a long book, but I got a bit bogged down on the Aboriginal section, which started to feel too worthy and Noble Savage-like. But it was redeemed by the final section, when William returns home and blends his two worlds. The real William Buckley didn't do this, but it makes perfect sense in the novel. Perhaps the ending is too neat, but it's beautifully and poignantly executed. Hesitating between three and four stars, I ended up with four, but three and a half would be more accurate. It reminded me a little bit of Riddley Walker -- except it's not nearly as good!

  • Nigel
    2019-03-08 23:38

    William Buckley, transported to Australia in the 1790s, escapes, intending to walk north to China, then turn left for England and home, and end up spending thirty years amongst Aboriginals, taken in as a resurrected warrior and becoming a beloved and respected holy man. He eventually returns home. And that's the story, and a strange, powerful and beautiful story it is, but with Garner it's the language. The words and folk dances of Buckley's home, the babble of dialects and cant on the ship, the precise and evocative language of the Aboriginals that reflect a whole different way of being. The language represents community, gang, tribe, and Buckley is initiated into each and is subjected to injustice, privation brutality and the ravenous incursion of colonialism, but the language lives on in Bukley, as does the Dreaming, fused into a transcendental final Dance at the climax of the book. It's an incredible, beautiful, funny, mind-expanding, heartbreaking book. Garner working at the height of his not inconsiderable powers. There really is nobody else like him.

  • Geoffrey Gudgion
    2019-03-02 22:51

    Alan Garner's Thursbitch was such a delight that I opened Strandloper with rare excitement. I was not disappointed. Garner writes with brilliant, bare precision, even if he can demand much of his readers.As the cover tells us, the essence of the plot is the true story of William Buckley, a Cheshire bricklayer who was unjustly deported to Australia in 1801, escaped, and lived for 31 years with the Aborigines. Garner weaves together Cheshire folklore and Aboriginal spiritualism in separate melodies that blend to create a single harmony. This beautiful and moving tale is not always an easy read; old Cheshire dialect is as obscure as Aboriginal words and the reader sometimes has to look for meaning in the context rather than the words themselves. In a way, it is like looking at a landscape through a stained glass window; there are layers of beauty that reward the eye that is willing to concentrate.Garner says, in The Voice That Thunders, that a writer has to have a sense of the numinous. That single word probably sums up Strandloper.Numinous.

  • Gail Nyoka
    2019-03-09 17:38

    Will Buckley, a young country man, finds that the practice of an ancient rite gets him sent to a penal colony. He escapes to live the next three decades of his life immersed in the lives and dreaming of the aboriginal peoples.The story of Will is also the story of the links between the spirit keepers of two cultures. The book is set in the time period when much of the magic of England has been confined to folk customs, which are being suppressed by the authorities. This suppression and oppression is extended to other peoples all over the globe.North Americans unfamiliar with the regional dialect may find some of the language difficult. I would suggest letting the meaning filter through the flow of the language. This is a remarkable work.

  • Neil
    2019-02-19 17:49

    A book unlike any other, Garner is a true artist a poet more than a novelist.A difficult book I don't pretend to fully understand it all. Set partly in Garner's beloved Cheshire and partly in Australia, each effecting the other in subtle ways, in that it reminded me of "Red shift" or the later "Thursbitch" but here rather than previous events affecting different people across time, the story is wholly about William Buckley and his quite separate lives as a Cheshire peasant and an Australian aborigine. The story is loosely based on fact William Buckley did exist, he was transported to Australia as punishment for a minor offence, he did escape and spend over thirty years with the aborigines. The book however is largely fiction, not that that makes any difference to it's quality.

  • TrumanCoyote
    2019-03-04 17:55

    More a schematic than an actual story. And awfully derivative of Red Shift. There's the artifact with talismanic juju, the fugues of visionary madness, the clipped dialogue and style...but there the doomed romance of the teenagers held it together, making it resonate and mocking it at the same time--but here there's no one to feel for. It's just a recital. Like one of those ponderously intoned ancient epic sagas, full of names and wind, signifying nothing. And the verbiage during the Aborigine section got awful Noble Savage--don't any of those people ever laugh or fart?

  • Peter Dunn
    2019-02-16 22:53

    I have been working my way through a number of Alan Garner books. From the descriptions of the plot that I had seen this looked like the one that would appeal least to me, but most its reviewers were producing glowing reports – and they were right. It is certainly one of his top three books. I combines his common theme of overlapping time though in this case more of a loop of time with his always detailed research to create an intriguing tale.

  • John
    2019-03-09 01:05

    This is definitely Garner's weirdest book (and that is saying a LOT!) based on a true story of a young man who was "transported" from England to Australia in the 19th Century, ran away & was rescued by a group of Australian Aboriginals, lived with them for 20 years & then returned to the U.K. umder a pardon, this book requires the reader to enter into an almost magical realm where the border between the actual and the imagined completely evaporates.

  • Charles
    2019-02-25 21:44

    The command of various kinds of slang, accent, and dialect by this author was amazing -- and uncompromising: no mercy for the reader. Stretching from the English countryside and an immemorial celtic/pagan past to Australia and a different immemorial aboriginal past, the book seemed dreamlike, a babel of voices. Sometimes you have to let the meaning of individual words go, so that the tale can sweep you up instead.

  • Aengus
    2019-03-12 00:42

    Colonialism,dreamtime, the Transport,injustice,culture clash,galligaskins,mulla-mullung,string stram ring dong,going native,sadistic landlords,hedge papists, swaddledidaffs, 8 months in chains, 20 years in the desert,death sentences, sorrow and forgiveness, Odysseus returns,gripe griffin hold fast, Cornwall to Bone Country, Six Points of Time.Here is the start of Time.

  • Martin
    2019-03-17 00:56

    At first I was disappointed as I started to read this book having been a fan of Garner for years. However, the more I read, the better it got though it still comes nowhere near to the excellent Red Shift.

  • Nick Thomas
    2019-03-15 18:42

    Read this book if you can! I think it's extraordinary. It's a series of initiations, through the medium of language - and takes you on a journey through the true, arduous heart of human identity. It's not easy, but Garner can be trusted to the nth degree. Read it if you dare!

  • Ralph Blackbourn
    2019-02-19 00:46


  • Simon Clydesdale
    2019-02-17 19:56

    An extraordinary and mysterious book that will reward re-reading. A journey into the many dimensions of man, a rugged circle of us.

  • David Morley
    2019-02-24 18:04

    A remarkable novel exquisitely written.

  • Jenny Burridge
    2019-02-19 20:47


  • Sonja Trbojevic
    2019-03-01 21:48

    A unique reading experience. I read this several years ago, and cannot comment fully until I have read it again, which will be soon.

  • Flo
    2019-02-23 16:54

    Simply astonishing. You are dropped into two alien worlds with very little help in terms of understanding, but to read, keep reading

  • J.S. Watts
    2019-03-19 17:56

    Lyrical, mystical and poetic. This is a beautifully written folk tale of loss and triumph. Moving and magnificent.

  • Ciaran
    2019-02-23 19:48

    Gripping plot, but too many long lists of proper nouns. Ending not very satisfying.