Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies

Article: Stockton

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Lana Stockton

Curtin University

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Gerald Murnane’s Reimagining of Self: Adapting the Living Author

This article discusses the semi-autobiographical writing style of the Australian author Gerald Murnane, through which he adapts autobiographical elements into his fiction. I inspect scenes from The Plains, Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs, and his latest novel Border Districts, analysing how they mould and adapt the author’s likeness into symbolic representations. From there I suggest how these literary images of the author might express their relation to personal or cultural memories. The paper reflects upon the relationship between Murnane’s distinctive writing voice and the cultural phenomenon of haunting. It contemplates how his uncanny adaptations of the self into literature introduce the reader to expressions of unsettled history.

An author’s works and visual language may be seen as an adaptation of their experience – imagined or learned – into our knowledge systems. This paper inspects how the Australian author Gerald Murnane symbolises his processes of remembering and his desire to creatively and conceptually locate the self in its surroundings. Murnane adapts his journey – from a childhood in Victoria, to retirement in the rural town of Goroke – into narrative storytelling with a unique visual language. This includes, most notably, apparent adaptations of his imagination and memory (emotional lived events) into literary symbols.

Keywords: Gerald Murnane, author, literature, fiction, haunting, writing, memory, The Plains

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Updated 27 Nov 2022


Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies

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