The Solitariness of Alex Miller single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2004 2004
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

The article presents an overview of Alex Miller's literary career and development as a writer and examines his six novels published to date.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Disestablished Worlds : An Introduction to the Novels of Alex Miller Robert Dixon , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 1-28)
'My Memory has a Mind of Its Own' : Watching the Climbers on the Mountain and The Tivington Nott Peter Pierce , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 55-65)
'Not long ago, Alex Miller remarked at a literary event (my witness is a bookseller from Launceston) that 'My memory has a mind of its own'. What might this mean? Perhaps a memory that is truant, given to reinvention, but also set free. Another implication might concern the double insecurity of memory: the tenuousness of our hold on what we can recollect from the past, and the uncertain hold that memory gives us on our present. In any event, that remark by Miller began and then informs this discussion of the first two novels that he wrote, works that draw closely on some salient events of his youth. They are Watching the Climbers on the Mountain (1988) and The Tivington Nott (1989)...' (From author's introduction 55)
The Presence of Absence in The Sitters Ronald A. Sharp , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 78-88)
'In the second paragraph of Alex Miller's The Sitters (1995) the narrator informs us that his memory of Jessica Keal allows him 'to approach the last enigma of my life - my family and my childhood. That cold legacy of silence and absence' (2). Bernadette Brennan's fine essay on The Sitters, in the context of Maurice Blanchot's meditations on death, notes that the narrator never explains 'why his experience with Jessica has given him the energy to begin painting...his childhood' (104). That it does so is indisputable, and Peter Pierce points us in the right direction, in his article on 'The Solitariness of Alex Miller', when he observes that Jessica functions as 'a Wordsworthian trigger to recover past 'spots of time'' (305). The connection between the frame of the entire narrative - and I use the word 'frame' not only to indicate a narrative frame but also in the sense of a picture frame, since this is a novel that foregrounds the connections between literary and visual art, between a novelist creating a character and a painter creating a portrait.' (Author's introduction 78)
Representing ‘the Other’ in the Fiction of Alex Miller Elizabeth Webby , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 114-124)
'Alex Miller began publishing his novels in 1988 at the end of a period of intense debate in literary circles about the ethics of representation, a debate informed by feminism, multiculturalism and postcolonialism. Put crudely, the debate was about whether white, male writers from first-world countries, the dominant literary players up to this point, should continue to have open slather in writing about their others, i.e. those who were not white or male, now that these others were at last finding their voices and writing back.

In Australia, the debate was particularly focused on the question of white writers' representation of Aboriginals. Indeed, in 1979 I was told, after giving a conference paper on colonial poems about Aboriginals, that I was lucky there were no Aboriginals in the audience. But in feminist circles male appropriation of female voices was also a major issue. Although a total ban on representations of others would clearly have meant the end of fiction as we know it, these debates did draw attention to the stereotyped representations of women, Aboriginals, Chinese and other 'others' found in much earlier Australian writing.

When I first read Alex Miller, soon after The Ancestor Game was published in 1992, I was struck by the unusual empathy shown here for his female characters and their predicaments, as well as by his insightful depictions of people from other cultures. These have continued to be hallmarks of his fiction, with representations of 'otherness' also extending to animals, especially in The Tivington Nott and Landscape of Farewell. My paper, however, will have as its focus The Ancestor Game, Conditions of Faith and Lovesong.' (Author's abstract)
The Ruin of Time and the Temporality of Belonging : Journey to the Stone Country and Landscape of Farewell Brigid Rooney , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 201-216)
'At first glance, Landscape of Farewell (2007) appears a simpler, more streamlined story than its predecessor, Journey to the Stone Country (2002). In the first person, Max Otto, a widowed German professor specialising in the history of massacres, tells of his journey to Mount Nebo in Central Queensland, a journey precipitated by his encounter with visiting Aboriginal Australian academic Vita McLelland. His journey is conducted in the context of his not yet assuaged grief for his wife, and of his haunted suspicions about his father's complicity in the horrors of wartime Germany. Peter Pierce (2004) has identified some of Miller's enduring preoccupations: 'solitariness', 'artful evocations of the visceral', tensions between ancestry, freedom and exile, and the indeterminacy of memory. While many of these recur in Landscape, I focus in this paper on how the theme of time is exercised in this novel, with its spare but concentrated prose and apparently straightforward narration. How does Landscape of Farewell draw us inwards as well as onwards, into an intricately nested set of temporalities that speak to selfhood, truth and reparation, to cross-cultural translation, to mortality and relinquishment, and to the intractable terrain of moral debate about the past? What does Miller's mode of narration bring to familiar questions, in Australian culture, of place and belonging?' (Source: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/australian_literature/images/content/conferences/miller_abstracts2.pdf)
Disestablished Worlds : An Introduction to the Novels of Alex Miller Robert Dixon , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 1-28)
'My Memory has a Mind of Its Own' : Watching the Climbers on the Mountain and The Tivington Nott Peter Pierce , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 55-65)
'Not long ago, Alex Miller remarked at a literary event (my witness is a bookseller from Launceston) that 'My memory has a mind of its own'. What might this mean? Perhaps a memory that is truant, given to reinvention, but also set free. Another implication might concern the double insecurity of memory: the tenuousness of our hold on what we can recollect from the past, and the uncertain hold that memory gives us on our present. In any event, that remark by Miller began and then informs this discussion of the first two novels that he wrote, works that draw closely on some salient events of his youth. They are Watching the Climbers on the Mountain (1988) and The Tivington Nott (1989)...' (From author's introduction 55)
The Presence of Absence in The Sitters Ronald A. Sharp , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 78-88)
'In the second paragraph of Alex Miller's The Sitters (1995) the narrator informs us that his memory of Jessica Keal allows him 'to approach the last enigma of my life - my family and my childhood. That cold legacy of silence and absence' (2). Bernadette Brennan's fine essay on The Sitters, in the context of Maurice Blanchot's meditations on death, notes that the narrator never explains 'why his experience with Jessica has given him the energy to begin painting...his childhood' (104). That it does so is indisputable, and Peter Pierce points us in the right direction, in his article on 'The Solitariness of Alex Miller', when he observes that Jessica functions as 'a Wordsworthian trigger to recover past 'spots of time'' (305). The connection between the frame of the entire narrative - and I use the word 'frame' not only to indicate a narrative frame but also in the sense of a picture frame, since this is a novel that foregrounds the connections between literary and visual art, between a novelist creating a character and a painter creating a portrait.' (Author's introduction 78)
Representing ‘the Other’ in the Fiction of Alex Miller Elizabeth Webby , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 114-124)
'Alex Miller began publishing his novels in 1988 at the end of a period of intense debate in literary circles about the ethics of representation, a debate informed by feminism, multiculturalism and postcolonialism. Put crudely, the debate was about whether white, male writers from first-world countries, the dominant literary players up to this point, should continue to have open slather in writing about their others, i.e. those who were not white or male, now that these others were at last finding their voices and writing back.

In Australia, the debate was particularly focused on the question of white writers' representation of Aboriginals. Indeed, in 1979 I was told, after giving a conference paper on colonial poems about Aboriginals, that I was lucky there were no Aboriginals in the audience. But in feminist circles male appropriation of female voices was also a major issue. Although a total ban on representations of others would clearly have meant the end of fiction as we know it, these debates did draw attention to the stereotyped representations of women, Aboriginals, Chinese and other 'others' found in much earlier Australian writing.

When I first read Alex Miller, soon after The Ancestor Game was published in 1992, I was struck by the unusual empathy shown here for his female characters and their predicaments, as well as by his insightful depictions of people from other cultures. These have continued to be hallmarks of his fiction, with representations of 'otherness' also extending to animals, especially in The Tivington Nott and Landscape of Farewell. My paper, however, will have as its focus The Ancestor Game, Conditions of Faith and Lovesong.' (Author's abstract)
The Ruin of Time and the Temporality of Belonging : Journey to the Stone Country and Landscape of Farewell Brigid Rooney , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 201-216)
'At first glance, Landscape of Farewell (2007) appears a simpler, more streamlined story than its predecessor, Journey to the Stone Country (2002). In the first person, Max Otto, a widowed German professor specialising in the history of massacres, tells of his journey to Mount Nebo in Central Queensland, a journey precipitated by his encounter with visiting Aboriginal Australian academic Vita McLelland. His journey is conducted in the context of his not yet assuaged grief for his wife, and of his haunted suspicions about his father's complicity in the horrors of wartime Germany. Peter Pierce (2004) has identified some of Miller's enduring preoccupations: 'solitariness', 'artful evocations of the visceral', tensions between ancestry, freedom and exile, and the indeterminacy of memory. While many of these recur in Landscape, I focus in this paper on how the theme of time is exercised in this novel, with its spare but concentrated prose and apparently straightforward narration. How does Landscape of Farewell draw us inwards as well as onwards, into an intricately nested set of temporalities that speak to selfhood, truth and reparation, to cross-cultural translation, to mortality and relinquishment, and to the intractable terrain of moral debate about the past? What does Miller's mode of narration bring to familiar questions, in Australian culture, of place and belonging?' (Source: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/australian_literature/images/content/conferences/miller_abstracts2.pdf)
Last amended 2 Sep 2004 12:06:28
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