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Murnane, Gerald

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1939-    ) Australian author, highly regarded in his native land for his experimental short stories and novels, such as Tamarisk Row (1974). Murnane's meditative style, and a sense that for him language makes the world, bears comparison with Jorge Luis Borges. He disclaims any connection with sf, but has written several sf fictions using Alternate History conventions. In The Plains (1982) the narrator enters an alternate Australia: an inland feudal society, whose landowners, devoted patrons of the arts, take part in elaborate games and rituals (see Medieval Futurism); the narrator is hired to make a film about this society, but in the end understand that the inner Australia he has discovered comprises a far richer Utopia than the old, coastal Australia, and abandons his project. "The Battle of Acosta Nu" (1985), which can be found in Landscape with Landscape (coll of linked novellas 1985), tells of a man living in Melbourne, Victoria, who all his life believes himself to be living in New Australia, the (actual) Australian colony founded in Paraguay in the early 1900s. Or perhaps it is the other way around. "Precious Bane" (in Strange Attractors, anth 1985, edited by Damien Broderick), is a Time Viewer fantasia with similarities to Max Beerbohm's "Enoch Soames" (May 1916 Century Magazine): an unpublished writer, viewing the shelves of a man in 2020, finds he left no mark on the world.

More definitively than on previous occasions, Murnane announced his retirement as an author in the nonfiction Last Letter to a Reader and Other Stories (coll 2021), which contains reflections on his work over many decades. [BG/JC]

Gerald Murnane

born Melbourne, Victoria: 25 February 1939

works (selected)



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