David Malouf Essay
David George Joseph Malouf (born 1934) is an Australian writer. He was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2000, his 1993 novel Remembering Babylon won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1996, he won the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award in 2008, and he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Malouf was born in Brisbane, Australia, to a Christian Lebanese father and an English- Jewish mother. He was an avid reader as a child, and at 12 years old was reading such books as Bleak House and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
These books, he says, taught him about sex: “They told you there was a life out there that was amazingly passionate”. He is a graduated at Queensland University in 1955 where he lecture for a short period of time before moving to London. There he spent some years teaching but in 1968 he decided to return to Australia and lectured at the university of Sydney where he spend most of his time. He became a full-time writer in 1978.
Carreer Many people when asked about Malouf first writings think of Johnno what is his first novel wrote in 1975, but the truth is that his first writing was his 1974 collection, Neighbours in a Thicket: Poems that first earned him a reputation as a significant new Australian talent. Winning various prizes, including the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, the book draws heavily on Malouf’s own past. Neighbours in a Thicket: Poems comprises intimate memories of suburban childhood, of domestic interiors, of mother, sister and the War, of travel in Europe. * His first novel, Johnno (1975), is the semi-autobiographical tale of a young man growing up in Brisbane during the Second World War, a period in Malouf’s life that he later wrote about in his memoir.
* His second novel, An Imaginary Life (1978), is a fictional life of the poet Ovid, exiled from Rome by the Emperor Augustus in 8 A.D. and sent to live in exile among the Scythians on the Black Sea
* In 1982, his novella about three acquaintances and their experience of World War I, Fly Away Peter, won The Age Book of the Year fiction prize. This book sees a return to wartime Australia and Queensland. Ashley Crowther has inherited land from his grandfather, but soon begins to realise that the place really belongs to Jim Saddler, the manager of the estate. Like so many of Malouf’s narratives, it returns us to his central themes of possession and dispossession and of Europe’s complex relationship to Australia.
* The Great World (1990), which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book) and tells the story of two Australians imprisoned by the Japanese during the Second World War; represents a turning point in the career of Malouf, whose work has become increasingly popular since the 1980s. While the text pursues much the same subject matter as his earlier novels, it does so on a much broader and more compelling canvas. The novel represents one of Malouf’s most ambitious works to date.
An epic tale, it combines intimate descriptions of Australia’s varied landscape, ‘from Sydney’s teeming King’s Cross to the tranquil backwaters of the Hawkesbury River’ while managing to imaginatively encompass the whole of Australia, and the world of Europe beyond. Spanning almost a century, The Great World takes The Great War, along with all those other wars in which Australia has fought in order to re-tell the country’s history.
* And the acclaimed Remembering Babylon (1993), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and won the first International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1996, as well as the Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific Region, Best Book). Remembering Babylon (1993), probably Malouf’s best known novel is set in 19th-century Australia, and tells the story of a young boy (Gemmy Fairley), a castaway who is rescued and taken in by aborigines. As an adult, Gemmy comes into contact with a group of European settlers and is taken in by the McIvor family.
However, he is never completely accepted by the settler community: both insider and outsider, familiar yet foreign, he arouses both the desires and distrust of his people. Most disturbing of all, Gemmy no longer feels at home in his own body. He has become an in-between figure; a hybrid. Since the turn of the century, much of Malouf’s major work has adopted and adapted the short story form. His critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Dream Stuff (2000), Malouf brings together a diverse range of narratives dealing with Australia over the past century. Many of these tales approach their subjects obliquely through myths, dreams and hauntings. As with so much of his best work though, they are also firmly grounded in the physical spaces of the Australian landscape.