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y separately published work icon JASAL periodical issue   peer reviewed assertion
Alternative title: David Malouf
Issue Details: First known date: 2014... vol. 14 no. 2 2014 of JASAL est. 2002 JASAL
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* Contents derived from the 2014 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
David Malouf : The Long Breath of the Young Writer, Yvonne Smith , single work single work criticism
'Malouf's juvenilia and early adult writing have not yet received scholarly attention. While briefly considering five of his short stories published between 1948 and 1955, this article argues that themes that stretch across the 'longer breath' of his works, such as a character's struggle for survival and quest for happiness, are apparent from the time of his schoolboy writing just after World War II. The kinds of life-accounting that Malouf grew up with may have influenced the narrative forms with which the young writer experimented, a view of juvenilia put forward by Alexander (2005) and Eakin (1999). The influence of cinema and modernist authors becomes apparent as his enters his twenties, together with the personal 'writing school' he discovered in reading Sean O'Faolain's 'The Short Story'. A reassessment is needed of the general view that Malouf is a poet first who came later to prose, given the evidence of these carefully crafted stories.' (Publication abstract)
Silence and Poetic Inwardness in the Writings of David Malouf, Dennis Haskell , single work criticism

'James Tulip's argument that David Malouf's ‘achievement is essentially that of a poet’ seems cogent, not only because of Malouf's lifelong commitment to poetry but because his novellas (and at least sections of his novels) might be read as long prose poems. These novellas do contain narratives but they are not driven by narrative. Nor are they most notable in the Modernist way as character studies; the novellas' characters do not engage in extensive social interaction. Rather, as individuals they engage in ideas, in existential contemplations of the self meeting a rich but complex universe. Dante always seems very separate from Johnno; Ovid is in exile; the terrorist in 'Child's Play' hardly talks to his colleagues. In fact, in their climaxes the main characters turn away from the possibilities of social interaction to achieve a state of equanimity in silence: the terrorist walking under apple blossom, Ovid as he steps into ‘clear sunlight’, Carney cleansing himself in the stream and Adair eating bread in an ‘outpouring’ of early morning light. In this retreat they resemble to some extent Horace on his Sabine farm, Montaigne on his Bordeaux estate, and Voltaire at Ferney – the tradition that Malouf describes in his essay on ‘The Happy Life’. Malouf's characters may be seen in opposition to contemporary society's ‘fear of inactivity, of stillness; most of all of the withdrawal of every form of chatter or noise in an extended and unendurable silence’. Adair wonders whether ‘what we are really committed to in our hearts is an unceasing motion’.

'It is poets who have found value in silence and recollections of tranquillity; Keats's sweeter ‘unheard music’ represented a silence that was a kind of perfection, not just the absence of noise, and the French Symbolistes were intent on finding it. Malouf's characters differ from Horace, Montaigne and Voltaire in that they stumble on silence or have it thrust upon them. However, this does not reduce the meaningfulness of the silence they experience. Malouf is neither a classical figure, a Renaissance humanist, nor a man of the Englightenment, although his writing evinces some empathy with all three. He is a modern figure who thinks our world and us ‘an accident’ so that we must find meaning where we can. His characters seem to find that meaning outside fictive realism in a mystical equanimity discovered only through a personal retreat and silence that is at odds with the contemporary world and its attitudes. This paper seeks to explore that process as presented in Malouf's prose and poetry.' (Publication abstract)

Closure, Completion and Memory in Harland's Half Acre : Phil's Story, Carolyn Masel , single work criticism
'Most of the excellent critical work on this novel deals with the topic that Malouf has identified as its central issue. Frank Harland’s original plan is to buy back his family’s land, lost through gambling and general carelessness, using the proceeds of the sale of his paintings. His thinking has to be radically altered after the death of his nephew and heir. Possession, he comes to realise, is an imaginative thing rather than a physical thing. This essay does not repeat or summarise previous critical contributions, which trace conceptions of non-Indigenous ownership all the way from terra nullius to the ethical ambitions of whiteness studies. Instead, focusing solely on Phil’s story, it deals with the construction and function of memory in the work and on the building of an emotional climax close to its end. It includes discussion of characters’ particular memories, the creation of verbal memories for the reader, and the use of memory to intensify emotion at strategic points of the novel, especially the climax.' (Publication abstract)
David Malouf and the Poetics of Possibility, Bill Ashcroft , single work criticism

'The essay addresses the poetic dimension of David Malouf's novels, suggesting that a poetics of possibility can be found in all his work. The poetics of possibility is a function both of Malouf’s thematic interest in the future and of his use of poetic language to draw the reader to imagine various kinds of ways of experiencing and knowing the world. The essay draws upon the philosophy of Ernst Bloch to illuminate the utopian dimension of Malouf’s work, whether in seeing the radiance of possibility in simple objects, the silent ‘presence’ at the centre of language, or the possibility of a different kind of future that Australian society might have experienced.' (Publication abstract)

‘Only We Humans Can Know’ : David Malouf and War, Clare Rhoden , single work criticism

'In 'The Middle Parts of Fortune' (1929)—perhaps the best narrative of the Great War—Australian author Frederic Manning asserted that ‘there was nothing in war which was not in human nature’ (128). Eighty years after Manning, in 'Ransom' (2009), Malouf returns to the classical world to give us an emotive, complex consideration of the events which provide the basis for Western civilisation’s oldest surviving war narrative, 'The Iliad'.

''Ransom' is not Malouf’s first exploration of war, though it marks a movement into a mythic rather than a liberal, realist interpretation. Through 'Fly Away Peter' (1982) and 'The Great World' (1990), we can trace Malouf’s multilayered exploration of the place of war in both individual story and cultural history. In particular, Malouf explores the ways in which war is both shocking and ordinary, delivering a complex appreciation of this recurring aspect of human experience.' (Publication abstract)

History As ‘Precarious Gift’ : Harland’s Half-Acre and The Great World As Malouf’s Not-So-Historical Novels, Nicholas Birns , single work criticism
'Harland’s Half-Acre (1985) and The Great World (1991) were composed at a time of increasing worldwide interest in the historical novel, and both works do have potentially historical settings, yet Malouf is more interested in a lyrical treatment of history, which will underscore the risks, the precariousness, of the past rather than just honoring or revering it. These novels, in their affirmation of lived provisionality, are finally not-so-historical.' (Publication abstract)
David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon As a Reconsideration of Pastoral Idealisation, Clare Archer-Lean , single work criticism

'David Malouf's oeuvre is characterised by a specific treatment of the natural world. Malouf’s sensitivity towards nature is very present in 'Remembering Babylon', inspired by the true story of Gemmy Morrill, ‘lost’ in the ‘wilds’, the novel framed by epigraphs drawn from Romantic poetry. This paper seeks to re-examine this treatment through an ecocritical lens. That is, I seek to explore the novel in terms of its redress of denigrating, exploitative, or idealistic views of human relationships with the non-human natural realm.

'Remembering Babylon' pits characters’ interactions with the natural world in diverse ways and the culminating impression is far from idealistic or apolitical. Ultimately, the novel’s complex rendering of human relationships with place and the non-human animal offers a specific challenge to romanticised visions of place. This argument is counter to some criticism of the novel as idealisation of the natural world at the expense of historically salient political considerations.

''Remembering Babylon' explores the significant political issue of human attitudes to the natural realm in complex ways. In order to reconsider the criticism of idealism, the novel is examined in terms of the genre most closely associated with idealisation of the environment: the pastoral. 'Remembering Babylon' appears to have a complex relationship with what can loosely be termed ‘the pastoral’. The novel revises idealising visions of nature and gently parodies the notion that nature is separate from or a tool of human, cultural concerns, particularly through its figurative and literal foregrounding of the nonhuman animal. The epigraph provides a deliberate and significant signal of Malouf’s challenge to pastoral understandings of nature because the poets cited within it, William Blake and John Clare, arguably offer in their wider body of work what might be termed a post-pastoral ethos that evokes, challenges and thus adapts pastoral idealism of nature. The paper suggests that 'Remembering Babylon' expresses such a post-pastoral ethos, if in a very different context and form from Blake and Clare.' (Publication abstract)

'As If My Bones Had Been Changed into Clouds': Queer Epiphanies in David Malouf's Fiction, Damien Barlow , single work criticism
'From his earliest work to his most recent, David Malouf’s oeuvre has consistently employed epiphanies to the point where such moments of heightened sensation, personal enlightenment or deep realisation and wonderment have become a defining hallmark of his writing. Focusing on Malouf’s early novel 'Johnno' and his short fiction ‘Closer’ and ‘Southern Skies’ this paper critically examines his use of epiphanies from a queer theoretical framework.' (Publication abstract)
The Happy Life : Nice Work If You Can Get It, John Scheckter , single work
'Has any other writer so closely suggested that the aura of a work of art is a manifestation of joy? For David Malouf, happiness involves the complete immersion of a man or woman—he uses gender with all body parts intact—in moments of irreducible self-consciousness. In The Happy Life (2011), the Transcendentalist connections are clear, but Malouf’s is a thoroughly contemporary vision. As with Emerson and Thoreau, Malouf brings considerable Classical insight to modern problems of unhappiness, which he says generally spring from mistaking the material “good life” for the spiritual “happy life.” While acknowledging global problems of environment and politics, Malouf looks squarely at the possibilities for personal happiness in physical and intellectual self-awareness, moments that can be realized in the interstices and lapses of a world beyond individual control. The result is both a classical humanistic assertion of personal possibility and a modern registry of the odds against us.' (Publication abstract)
A World of Feeling : David Malouf and the Public Conversation, Kay Ferres , single work criticism
'This paper is concerned with David Malouf's role as a public intellectual, commenting on contemporary life and values. It considers how he has accrued cultural authority and how he has connected with a 'true public'. It draws on the work of Mark Kingwell and Stefan Collini to characterise Malouf's distinctive voice.' (Publication abstract)
Review : Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry, Elaine Lindsay , single work review
— Review of Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry Toby Davidson , 2013 multi chapter work criticism ;
Metamorphic Malouf, Nicholas Jose , single work criticism

'David Malouf’s work is notable for the range and mix of genres it encompasses (including poem, novel, novella, short story, essay, memoir, play, libretto, translation, review). Parts of his fiction approach autobiography or the essay; his essays range from personal memory and travel to social and cultural commentary, and beyond; his fiction is historical, fabulist, naturalistic and poetic in turn. Some of his works adapt existing works into another form: novel to opera: Greek or Latin into English. One of his most celebrated works, 'An Imaginary Life', recreates the life of the poet of 'Metamorphoses'. A metamorphic quality or interest or theme reappears throughout Malouf’s writing, exemplified nowhere better than in his ‘Seven Last Words of the Emperor Hadrian’, a set of variations. Yet Malouf has also spoken of the way each new part of an author’s ‘body of work’ extends what has gone before, adding to it coherently, as if that body of work is one evolving thing. In other words, the change from one thing to another (one form, one mode, one kind) does not seem to change a pervasive unity (underlying, overarching). This is the paradox of the one and the many as they relate artistically and conceptually to each other. The paper explores Malouf’s metamorphic vision by focussing on his understanding of opera, the most mixed of art forms, as risky, dream-like, miraculous, communal.' (Publication abstract)

Appreciating David Malouf As Poet, Jim Tulip , single work
'This personal reading of David Malouf's poetry during fifty years ranges from his earliest dramatic lyrics through his European-Australian comparisons to the time in the 1970s when novel writing became his dominant concern. It then touches on Malouf's response to the cultural and intellectual changes of the 1970s, and finally returns to his recent rewarding philosophic style of lyrical reflection. The paper argues for sustained poetic interest and concerns within Malouf's writing.' (Publication abstract)
David Malouf at Eighty, Ihab Hassan , single work criticism
'An appreciation of David Malouf and his work, presented at the David Malouf Symposium, Australian Catholic University, North Sydney, on 31 May 2013.' (Publication abstract)
In Conversation : David Malouf and Ivor Indyk, Ivor Indyk , single work interview

'This is the record of a conversation between David Malouf, Ivor Indyk and audience members at the 31 May 2013 David Malouf Symposium, held at the North Sydney campus of Australian Catholic University. The speakers reflect upon the papers delivered at the Symposium.' (Publication abstract)

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Last amended 19 Jan 2017 09:41:10