What Became of the White Savage

A General Theory of Oblivion

Author: François Garde

Translator: Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Original language: French

Published by: Dedalus Press, 2015

What Became of the White Savage enjoyed phenomenal success in France where it won nine literary prizes including the prestigious Goncourt Prize in the first novel category.

Some time in the 1840s, Narcisse, a young French sailor is abandoned on the coast of Australia and given up for dead by his shipmates. Seventeen years later he is found living among aboriginal peoples, having apparently forgotten everything of his original identity, including his native French language. Octave de Vallombrun, a well-meaning geographer, takes him under his wing and sets out to bring Narcisse, now known as the “white savage” back to civilisation and to find out what happened during those seventeen years.

Observing Narcisse’s struggle to adjust to the ways of the white man, Octave too begins to question his assumptions about what it means to be civilised, and to see in a new light the man known as the “white savage”.

It will appeal to readers interested in the issues of identity, belonging and competing cultural values.