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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 'More and More a Place That Only I Could Interpret' : Interpretation and Gerald Murnane's The Plains
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Thus opens Gerald Murnane's novel The Plains. It begins with a border crossing of sorts. The narrator, who remains nameless throughout the novel, recounts the process of crossing from Australia into the plains. The reader obligingly follows. Yet, the narrator cannot be sure of exactly when and where, let alone if he crossed from Australia into the plains. The border is imperceptible. This imperceptibility is not merely a problem of borders, or even a problem of place. As Gillet notes, it is a problem of 'language' and 'knowledge' - a problem, perhaps, of interpretation. What I am alluding to here is acknowledged and even perpetuated by the narrator himself. In these opening few lines the narrator refers to interpretation twice, both times in reference to the land around him. The plains, he states, seem to be the source of hidden meanings. The person approaching the plains is willed to search for such meanings. Furthermore, the search for hidden meanings, the act of interpretation, is a private one. The plains, the narrator comments, 'seemed more and more a place that only I could interpret.' (Introduction)


  • Epigraph: Twenty years ago, when I first arrived on the plains, I kept my eyes open. I looked for anything in the landscape that seemed to hint at some elaborate meaning behind appearances.

    My journey to the plains was much less arduous than I afterwards described it. And I cannot even say that at a certain hour I knew I had left Australia. But I recall clearly a succession of days when the flat land around me seemed more and more a place that only I could interpret.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Border Crossings Graham Tulloch (editor), Diana Glenn (editor), Kent Town : Wakefield Press , 2016 11605312 2016 anthology criticism

    'Crossing borders, breaking boundaries, going beyond the limits, entering new territories - today these take many forms and are major preoccupations of our world. Whether the borders are real or imagined, historical or contemporary, physical or psychological, they continue to fascinate us. The twenty-two chapters in this book explore the phenomenon of border crossing in some of its manifold forms. The chapters range across a wide spectrum of border crossings from the ages of chivalry, Dante, Shakespeare and Darwin, through to the era of comics, world music, transcultural writing, mash-up novels, and digital libraries. Studies of life writing, the performing arts, language, history, migration and literature all contribute to the exploration of the central theme and open up for readers some of the many ways in which border crossings inform and revitalise our lives.'

    Source: Publisher's blurb.

    Kent Town : Wakefield Press , 2016
    pg. 43-52
Last amended 26 Sep 2017 10:43:32
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