David Malouf

David Malouf

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    David Malouf
    Book Description:

    Don Randall’s comprehensive study situates Malouf within the field of contemporary international and postcolonial writing, but without losing sight of the author’s affiliation with Australian contexts. The book presents an original reading of Malouf, finding the unity of his work in the continuity of his ethical concerns: for Malouf, human lives find their value in transformations, specifically in instances of self-overcoming that encounters with difference or otherness provoke. However, the book is fully aware of, and informed by, the quite ample body of criticism on Malouf, and thus provides readers with a broad-based understanding of how Malouf’s works have been received and assessed. It is an effective companion volume for studies in postcolonial or Australian literature, for any study project in which Malouf figures prominently.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-185-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Series editorʹs foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)

    Contemporary World Writersis an innovative series of authoritative introductions to a range of culturally diverse contemporary writers from outside Britain and the United States or from ‘minority’ backgrounds within Britain or the United States. In addition to providing comprehensive general introductions, books in the series also argue stimulating original theses, often but not always related to contemporary debates in post-colonial studies.

    The series locates individual writers within their specific cultural contexts, while recognising that such contexts are themselves invariably a complex mixture of hybridised influences. It aims to counter tendencies to appropriate the writers discussed into the canon of...

  5. List of abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Chronology
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. 1 Contexts and intertexts
    (pp. 1-12)

    An examination of David Maloufʹs overall writing career reveals a remarkably continuous concern with encounters between self and other. What most distinguishes his work is its strong tendency to find in otherness (or alterity) the stimulus and orientation for a creative unsettling of identity. The other, in Malouf, does not typically enable a consolidation of selfhood, nor does it unproductively impede or confuse identity formation. Encounter with the other provokes creative self-transformation, a self-overcoming, a becoming other than oneself that responds to and moves toward the version of being the other manifests. For Malouf, the project of a human life...

  8. 2 The poetry
    (pp. 13-29)

    Although Maloufʹs international reputation is very much founded on his achievements in fiction, he began as a poet and was nearly two decades into his career before publishing his first substantial fiction. In his Preface toJohnno, Malouf offers some brief analysis of the creative process, in some aspects very practical, that initiated and sustained his first novelʹs composition. Forging the crucial first sentence of what will become the first novel entailed ʹfalling back on the open, undefended tone of poems … written a decade beforeʹ. Further specifying his case, Malouf goes on to state that the first novelʹs central,...

  9. 3 The narratiaves of ʹIʹ
    (pp. 30-80)

    The first three long prose fictions of Maloufʹs career, beginning withJohnno, are narrated in the first person. Only the first one, however, is strongly marked by Maloufʹs personal experience and history. Ovid, the first-person narrator of the second novel, is like Malouf a writer, and more particularly a poet; like Malouf and other Australians, Ovid undergoes a complex experience of exile. Yet Maloufʹs creation of Ovid nonetheless demonstrates impressive imaginative stretch, so distantly does the Roman poetʹs experience stand from that of the Australian author. Similarly, the narration ofChildʹs Play, the third novel, is undoubtedly supported by Maloufʹs...

  10. 4 Multiple worlds
    (pp. 81-108)

    The analysis ofFly Away PeterandHarlandʹs Half Acrewill bring Malouf into focus as a writer of multiple-worlds fictions. This new emphasis makes itself felt early, inFly Away Peterʹsopening passages, which establish Jim Saddler as an inhabitant of ʹtwo worldsʹ, an up-close, minutely detailed world at ground-level and a mapped world, territorialised, and always envisioned from above, from the bird’s-eye view (FAP, 2). Ashley Crowther, as soon as he is introduced, is shown to be composed by two very distinct places, by two modes of self-location: he is an Australian landowner (with considerable holdings) and yet...

  11. 5 The Great World
    (pp. 109-124)

    Although it carries on with the multiple-worlds orientation,The Great Worldis more thoroughly a novel of transactions. InHarlandʹs Half Acrethe lines of impact and influence are at times unidirectional: one learns in appreciable detail the effect Knack has on Edna or Frank, but the narration remains silent about how either of these characters impacts upon Knack. The 1990 novel is more scrupulous in demonstrating that change, in the human world, is nearly always a matter ofexchange. Australian identity, both individual and national, is shown to emerge through continuous negotiation between connectedness and separation (or loss). Australia,...

  12. 6 Remembering Babylon
    (pp. 125-146)

    In addition to being the cornerstone of Maloufʹs reputation,Remembering Babylonbrings into focus the specifically postcolonial aspects of the authorʹs vision and thus provides an important perspective on the work that precedes it. The previously established elements of Maloufʹs vision are now organised around questions of postcoloniality and nationhood: what is a nation, and how is it constituted; more particularly, what is Australia, and how did this erstwhile collection of settler colonies remake itself as a modern nation? BothHarlandʹs Half AcreandThe Great Worldoffer multiple-perspective, wide-angle imaging of Australian modernity;Remembering Babylondistinguishes itself through the...

  13. 7 The Conversations at Curlow Creek
    (pp. 147-163)

    The Conversations at Curlow Creekclearly follows from its distinguished predecessor, opening upon the question, ʹWhat is it in us, what is it inme, that we should be so divided against ourselves, wanting our life and at the same time afraid of it?ʹ (CCC, 3). However,Remembering Babylonis principally focused upon the problem of apprehending, then learning to value, difference or otherness within the processes of self-fashioning; whereasConversationsorganises itself much more around defamiliarising the familiar, showing the gaps of darkness and strangeness that inform relationships of assumed intimacy and examining the ensuing problem of self-knowledge. The...

  14. 8 The short stories
    (pp. 164-181)

    ʹA Mediumʹ, the final story of theAntipodescollection, offers a statement about narrative that is generally useful in dealing with Maloufʹs short fiction: ʹThere is no story, no set of events that leads anywhere or proves anything – no middle, no endʹ (A, 160). Significantly, thereisinvariably a beginning for every story; only the progressive, teleological development, through the middle to the end, is dismissed as illusory. A story then is a matter of beginning; one may even say a story is all beginning. This critical, theoretical position becomes particularly interesting once one recognises that one of the...

  15. 9 Critical overview and conclusion
    (pp. 182-194)

    Scholarly criticism of Maloufʹs work began in the later 1970s following the publication of the award-winning poetry collectionNeighbours in a Thicketin 1974 and ofJohnnoin 1975. The pace of critical publication increased appreciably by the mid-1980s, when notable articles by such as Martin Leer, Laurie Hergenhan, Maryanne Dever, and Patrick Buckridge began to appear.An Imaginary Lifeclaimed the lionʹs share of attention until the mid-1990s whenRemembering Babylonbecame, and subsequently has remained, the main topic-text for Malouf criticism.

    Philip Neilsen’sImagined Livesof 1990 is the first substantial monograph on Malouf, a work of enduring...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 195-208)
  17. Select bibliography
    (pp. 209-218)
  18. Index
    (pp. 219-222)