Print this page

Sonya Hartnett revisits 'A Difficult Young Man' by Martin Boyd

Reviewed by
March 2012, no. 339

Sonya Hartnett revisits 'A Difficult Young Man' by Martin Boyd

Reviewed by
March 2012, no. 339

Few writers, it could be argued, have ever cannibalised life for their art as ruthlessly and consistently as did Martin Boyd; and few are born into situations which lend themselves so readily to art. Boyd’s working life – indeed, much of his entire existence – was spent trying to unite the past with the present, the old world with the new, himself with the man he might have been; and in committing his efforts to paper. To this end, he never shirked from using friends and relatives as material for his novels, as well as the real-life experiences of himself and of others. If he paid a price for this – which he occasionally did, for people often hanker to be preserved in print, only to resent the style of preservation – the consequences gave him little pause. By the time he wrote A Difficult Young Man, focusing the cool spotlight of his attention on his brother Merric as well as more sharply on himself, Boyd had form as a writer whose true gift lay not in the power of his imagination, but in the brilliance of his ancestral inheritance.

From the New Issue

comment (1)

  • This morning, after I had a look at the Martin Boyd references on Google, I read this fine piece--not least, because I plan to write a brief Net reflection on Dominic in a series I was asked to do on Growing Up/Coming of Age. I wanted something Australian, and the Australian-European focus in the Langton series has always interested me very much. Sonya Hartnett has done very well indeed, and I'd just like to say so publicly. As a Teacher Educator at what is now USyd I taught Boyd in an elective for prospective teachers, but that was long ago.
    Posted by Dr Susan Reibel Moore
    Wednesday, 04 May 2016 08:24