The necromancy of solipsism

Gerald Murnane’s shameless aesthetic privacies
by
December 2021, no. 438
Buy this book

Last Letter to a Reader: Essays by Gerald Murnane

Giramondo, $26.95 pb, 126 pp

The necromancy of solipsism

Gerald Murnane’s shameless aesthetic privacies
by
December 2021, no. 438
Gerald Murnane (photograph by Ben Denham/Giramondo)
Gerald Murnane (photograph by Ben Denham/Giramondo)

No contemporary Australian writer has higher claims to immortality than Gerald Murnane and none exhibits narrower tonal range. It’s a long time since we encountered the boy with his marbles and his liturgical colours in some Bendigo of the mind’s dreaming in Tamarisk Row (1974). There was the girl who was the embodiment of dreaming in A Lifetime on Clouds (1976). After The Plains (1982) came the high, classic Murnane with his endless talk of landscapes and women and grasslands, like a private language of longing and sorrow and contemplation.

Peter Craven reviews 'Last Letter to a Reader: Essays' by Gerald Murnane

Last Letter to a Reader: Essays

by Gerald Murnane

Giramondo, $26.95 pb, 126 pp

Buy this book

From the New Issue

Comment (1)

  • This is a richly enlightening review by the always rewarding Peter Craven, but am I alone in puzzling over the formulation "privacies in which ... Murnane talks to himself about the reflections of the images and obsessions that constitute his apprehension of his work"? Que? We have M talking to himself (self-reflection), which is okay so far; we have "reflections of the images and obsessions" which, if they are not reflective thoughts about images, is very obscure; we have an ambiguity over whether it is the (already obscure) reflections, or the images and obsessions, which constitute his own apprehension of his work (self-assessment); a translation of the latter section along the lines "the images and obsessions that he essentially takes his work to be" would make some sense of part of it, but the whole sentence resists unravelling and, this said with all respect, I suggest needs re-thinking. Ironically, I have a piece called The Grammar of Gerald Murnane', in Meanjin Spring 2017, where it is Murnane who comes out with a tattered cuff or two rather than his reviewer.
    Posted by John Stephenson
    06 December 2021

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