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y separately published work icon Border Districts single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 Border Districts
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Conceived as Gerald Murnane’s last work of fiction, Border Districts was written after the author moved from Melbourne to a small town on the western edge of the Wimmera plains, near the border with South Australia. The narrator of this fiction has made a similar move, from a capital city to a remote town in the border country, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. It is a time for exploring the enduring elements of his experience, as these exist in his mind, images whose persistence is assured, but whose significance needs to be rediscovered. Readers of Murnane’s earlier work will recognise some of these images: the dark-haired young woman at a window; the ancestral house set in grasslands; coloured glass, marbles, goldfish, the outfits of jockeys. Murnane’s images often draw their power from the light that falls upon them from a distant or mysterious source. But he also considers the possibility that the mind casts its own light, imbuing the images in the observer’s mind with the colours of his soul.

'As Murnane’s narrator declares, ‘the mind is a place best viewed from borderlands’. In this work, Border Districts also refers to the border country between life and death; and there is another meaning, in the narrator’s discovery of others who might share his world, even though they enter it from a different direction, across the border districts which separate, or unite, two human beings.' (Publication summary)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Artarmon, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Giramondo Publishing , 2017 .
      image of person or book cover 2709333023622957769.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 164p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 1 November 2017

      ISBN: 9781925336542
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Farrar Straus and Giroux ,
      2018 .
      image of person or book cover 7054927272111902081.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 132p.p.
      ISBN: 9780374115753, 0374115753
    • Sheffield, South Yorkshire,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      And Other Stories ,
      2019 .
      image of person or book cover 5249320691520772893.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 137p.p.
      ISBN: 9781911508380, 1911508385
Alternative title: Grenzbezirke
Language: German
    • Berlin,
      c
      Germany,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Suhrkamp ,
      2018 .
      image of person or book cover 4482327358501761494.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 231p.
      ISBN: 9783518225073

Other Formats

  • Large print.
  • Braille.

Works about this Work

What Kind of Literary History Is A History of Books? Ivor Indyk , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: Gerald Murnane : Another World in This One 2020; (p. 153-164)

'This is one of those occasions where I feel I am wearing too many hats, and I am not sure what to do with the excess ones. This is because I am speaking of Gerald Murnane in a number of different roles – as a friend, a critic, a publisher, an editor – though I should admit that Murnane doesn’t need much editing, at least in my experience, since what I suggest as an editor tends to get rejected anyway. As he busies himself behind the bar in the room here as I talk now, I cannot be sure whether he’s listening , or whether, like the narrator at the beginning of Border Districts, he has resolved to guard his eyes, so as to be more alert to what might appear at the edges of his attention.1 But perhaps the greater discomfort for me, is to talk as both a publisher and as a critic. As a publisher there’s a sense of excitement when you’re producing a book, a kind of intimacy in the production of it, which as a critic you’re not meant to feel; you keep the book at a distance, the better to form a judgement of it. Nevertheless, when I’m preparing a book for publication I do read it critically and develop ideas about it that I think are significant, and should be conveyed to readers, particularly those who have not read Murnane before. I’m only allowed a little over one hundred words, in the blurb on the back cover, to address the reader directly, and there is not a lot one can say there, though there is a lot one wants to say. I have found, especially being here today, that much of what I wanted to say has now already been said, or is being said, as the critical discourse catches up with Murnane’s works of fiction, and his idiosyncracies as an author. And though this makes me feel proud as a publisher it makes feel humble as a critic, because it’s other people making the points that I would have liked to make, and they are making them more thoroughly than I could have done.' (Introduction(

 

Reporting Meaning in Border Districts Anthony Uhlmann , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: Gerald Murnane : Another World in This One 2020; (p. 143-152)

'As many critics point out, Gerald Murnane challenges how we read, how we think and interpret. The closer one reads him the more profound these challenges appear. I will attempt two things in this chapter. First, I will make some comments on some of these challenges. Second, I will offer a reading of some of the associations of images the work brings together.' (Introduction)

Retrospective Intention : The Implied Author and the Coherence of the Oeuvre in Border Districts and The Plains Emmett Stinson , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: Gerald Murnane : Another World in This One 2020; (p. 45-62)
'This essay examines the dialogic relationship between Gerald Murnane’s final novel, Border Districts (2017), and his third published novel, The Plains (1982), to argue that Murnane’s late works enact a “retrospective intention” that revises the meaning of his earlier works. Murnane’s writings depict a complex relationship between author, intention, text and reader through the notion of the “implied author”, a figure that gives coherence to the total meaning of a work, while also being purely textual in nature. By comparing Wayne C. Booth’s influential definition of the implied author and Murnane’s use of the term, however, I argue that Murnane foregrounds and exploits its internal contradictions for generative purposes. The implied author functions similarly to what I will call retrospective intention.' (Introduction)
y separately published work icon Grounded Visionary : The Mystic Fictions of Gerald Murnane Brendan McNamee , Oxford : Peter Lang , 2019 22038132 2019 multi chapter work criticism

'Grounded Visionary: The Mystic Fictions of Gerald Murnane is a reading of Australian writer Gerald Murnane’s fiction in the light of what is known as the Perennial Philosophy, a philosophical tradition that positions itself as the mystical foundation of all the world’s religions and spiritual systems. The essential tenet of that philosophy is that at a fundamental level all of life is a unity―consciousness and world are the same thing―and that it is possible, if extremely difficult, for the discriminating individual mind to experience this wholeness. Murnane’s work can be seen not to take its lead from writings in this philosophical tradition but rather to resonate with many of them through Murnane’s unique artistic expression of his experience of the world. The crux of the argument is that beneath their yearnings for landscapes and love, Murnane’s narrators and chief characters are all in search of the essential unity that the Perennial Philosophy postulates.

'Taking its cue from Murnane’s self-description as a "technical writer," this book examines each of the author’s works in detail to reveal how structures and themes are seamlessly woven together to create artworks that shimmer with mystery while at the same time remaining thoroughly grounded in the actual.

'Grounded Visionary is the first full-length study of Gerald Murnane’s work to tackle head-on his underlying mystical sensibility and is also the first to deal comprehensively with the author’s complete fictional output from Tamarisk Row to Border Districts. This book will be of interest to all lovers of modern literature and will be of special interest to students of Australian literature and those concerned with the interface between art and spirituality.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

I Had No Imagination Christian Lorentzen , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: London Review of Books , 4 April vol. 41 no. 7 2019; (p. 31-32)

— Review of Tamarisk Row Gerald Murnane , 1974 single work novel ; Border Districts Gerald Murnane , 2017 single work novel

'Gerald Murnane was named after a racehorse. His father, Reginald, was a front man for Teddy Estershank, a professional punter who was banned from being a licensed trainer or registered owner of horses by racecourses around Melbourne. Estershank, an ‘evil genius’ according to Murnane, used friends like Reginald as dummy owners for the horses he bought, trained and bet on. The ‘equine Gerald’ and later a horse called Geraldo were nominally owned by Reginald and sold when, after a win or two, they proved disappointments. (They became reliable winners for their new owners.) Reginald’s death, when his disappointing son was 21, was liberating for Murnane, though liberation took a while. Tamarisk Row, a novel about the nine-year-old son of a front man for a professional punter, took ten years to write. It appeared in Australia in 1974, when Murnane was 35.'  (Introduction)

[Review] Border Districts JR , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 25 November- 1 December no. 184 2017;

— Review of Border Districts Gerald Murnane , 2017 single work novel

'It begins, this mesmeric inward spiral of a book, with a digressive turn towards the past: Two months ago, when I first arrived in this township just short of the border, I resolved to guard my eyes, and I could not think of going on with this piece...; (Introduction)

Into the Woods Beejay Silcox , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , December no. 397 2017; (p. 26)

— Review of Border Districts Gerald Murnane , 2017 single work novel

'There is a whiff of mythology about Gerald Murnane. He is quietly infamous for who he isn’t: for the things he’s never done (travel by aeroplane); the things he’ll never do (live outside of Victoria, wear sunglasses); the things he’ll never do again (watch movies or a Shakespeare play); the books he won’t read (contemporary fiction); the books he won’t write (interrogations of national identity); and the literary prizes he hasn’t won (almost all of them – much to critical incredulity). Australians often struggle with strangeness: we do not easily surrender to the unconventional, the wilfully eccentric, or the unapologetically clever. It’s hard to know what to do with a writer who is all three.' (Introduction)

[Review] Border Districts Helen Elliott , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: The Monthly , February no. 141 2018; (p. 72)

— Review of Border Districts Gerald Murnane , 2017 single work novel

'A man arrives to live in a country town “just short of the border” with a resolve to “guard my eyes”. To explain how he came by the expression “guard my eyes”, he begins a narrative of the past, of himself as a boy, then a youth. At the end of the book the origin of the expression is clarified. And the reader is stilled, humming with a new alertness.' Introduction

I Had No Imagination Christian Lorentzen , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: London Review of Books , 4 April vol. 41 no. 7 2019; (p. 31-32)

— Review of Tamarisk Row Gerald Murnane , 1974 single work novel ; Border Districts Gerald Murnane , 2017 single work novel

'Gerald Murnane was named after a racehorse. His father, Reginald, was a front man for Teddy Estershank, a professional punter who was banned from being a licensed trainer or registered owner of horses by racecourses around Melbourne. Estershank, an ‘evil genius’ according to Murnane, used friends like Reginald as dummy owners for the horses he bought, trained and bet on. The ‘equine Gerald’ and later a horse called Geraldo were nominally owned by Reginald and sold when, after a win or two, they proved disappointments. (They became reliable winners for their new owners.) Reginald’s death, when his disappointing son was 21, was liberating for Murnane, though liberation took a while. Tamarisk Row, a novel about the nine-year-old son of a front man for a professional punter, took ten years to write. It appeared in Australia in 1974, when Murnane was 35.'  (Introduction)

Fragments of Light in the Ruins Peter Craven , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 18 November 2017; (p. 22)

'Gerald Murnane has been at the game of fiction (or whatever it is he does) for a long time. His 1982 novel The Plains, with its dazzling invocation of the idea of landscape, made a world of readers realise fiction could be made abstract and lyrical.' (Introduction)

Gerald Murnane’s Endless Island Ryu Spaeth , 2018 single work column
— Appears in: The New Republic , 4 May 2018;

'At the very moment of his breakthrough, Gerald Murnane is threatening to disappear. The 79-year-old Australian writer—long considered a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, an association that speaks both to his genius and obscurity—is enjoying a rare moment in the sun. As he told The New York Times Magazine in a recent profile, “My publishing history’s just so checkered with sudden reversals, ups and downs, confusions, wrong turnings, and at the end of my life, virtually, it seems like things are starting to work out.” He has a new home with a major U.S. publisher (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, after many years with various independent houses), which has released two volumes of work previously unavailable to a general American readership: Stream System, his collected short fiction, and Border Districts, a novel. Yet these books have the feeling of a farewell: The first is a career-spanning overview, while Murnane has said that the latter is his final work of fiction.' (Introduction)

Two New Books From Australia, Unconstrained by Literary Convention Benjamin H. Ogden , 2018 single work column
— Appears in: The New York Times Book Review , 18 June 2018;

'Born in 1939, Gerald Murnane is an Australian author of 14 books of memoir and fiction, each of which is wonderfully unusual in that it takes as its focus the mental images Murnane sees while he writes, the scenery surrounding those images and the way one mental image will lead to another and then another. Murnane’s books, apart from his early novel “The Plains,” aren’t about anything in the way that most fiction is about events and action among characters whose motivations interest the reader. Rather, the few thousand pages that Murnane has produced since his 1975 debut, “Tamarisk Row,” are a record of what he has seen when he tried to look at the place that is his own mind, and the effort of a lifetime that it has been for him to explore the inner reaches of this place through writing about it.' (Introduction)

Your Guide to the Miles Franklin Shortlist : A Kaleidoscopic Portrait of a Diverse Nation Jen Webb , 2018 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 23 August 2018; The Guardian Australia , 23 August 2018;

'The Miles Franklin award is famously for “a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases”. That’s a very broad palette, yet for most of the award’s existence — 1957 to the present — it has recognised a rather narrow field of “Australian life”.' (Introduction)

Gerald Murnane’s Prime Minister’s Literary Award Is Long Overdue Anthony Uhlmann , 2018 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 5 December 2018;

'I first came to Border Districts through a brief description of it given to me by Gerald Murnane when I first met him three years ago. I thought he had told me that he did not think it was as complex as another work he wrote around the same time, A Million Windows.' (Introduction)

Last amended 13 Jul 2021 11:24:48
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