James Dunk reviews 'The Profilist' by Adrian Mitchell

James Dunk reviews 'The Profilist' by Adrian Mitchell

The Profilist

by Adrian Mitchell

Wakefield Press, $29.95 pb, 320 pp, 9781743053454

'Everything is so sedate you could weep for vexation.' The first novel of literary academic Adrian Mitchell is a strange one. It is a fictional memoir that aims to inhabit the imagined world of the colonial artist S.T. Gill. This is a conceit that should free the narrative from the mundane, but The Profilist is a study in the ordinary.

The novel is narrated by Ethan Dibble, an imaginary artist standing in for Gill. Mitchell replicates a nineteenth-century voice, including its dry wit. It is a past, colonial ordinariness, and the details of struggling settlements, goldfields, explorations of the interior, and art exhibitions are impressive. The writing is at its best in the colourful array of minor characters. It is often immersive.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

James Dunk

James Dunk

James Dunk is a historian and writer living in Sydney. His doctoral thesis was a study of madness in colonial Australia.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.