James Cowan †

James Cowan (1942-2018) was author of a number of internationally acclaimed books, including The Painted Shore, A Troubadour’s Testament and Letters from A Wild State. In 1998 he was awarded the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal for his novel, A Mapmaker’s Dream. His work has been translated into twenty-seven languages.

A ten-year study of Indigenous cultures led him to work, research, and finally live among Aborigines in the Center, the Far North and the Kimberly region of Australia. This resulted in a series of books that explored Aboriginal themes: Mysteries of the Dreaming, Myths of Dreaming, Sacred Places, The Aboriginal Tradition, Two Men Dreaming and finally Messengers of the Gods. He has also worked with the Iban people of Borneo and the Miriam people of the Torres Strait.

Toward the end of his life, James Cowan drew inspiration from cultural perspectives lying at the heart of Early Christianity and ancient Greek thinking. Books such as Desert Father, Francis, and Fleeing Herod, explored the revolutionary nature of Christianity as a vehicle for transformation. His studies of the pre-Socratic philosophers allowed him to render a modern translation of Parmenides’ poem, The Way of Truth.

Myth, and the importance of sacred landscapes, lie at the heart of his work. He and Arthur Versluis explore these themes in a final work, Timelessness: Conversations on Life, Literature, Spirituality, and Culture (New Cultures Press, 2020).