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y separately published work icon Holden's Performance single work   novel   satire  
Issue Details: First known date: 1987... 1987 Holden's Performance
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Holden's Performance is the story of Holden Shadbolt, a guileless and matter-of-fact innocent as he passes through the cities and landscape of Australia. His reassuring silent presence and photographic memory make him useful to men of power and women who appear to need his protection. He is surrounded by larger than life figures whose exploits and adventures Holden follows—ex-Corporal Frank 'Bloodnut' McBee, the scrap dealer who woos his mother; his uncle Vern, a shortsighted proofreader who likes facts and eating newspaper with is breakfast cereal; and the crippled artist Harriet, whose twists and curves appeal to Holden as he holds to his own unswervingly straight lines.' (Publication summary)

Affiliation Notes

  • Writing Disability in Australia:

    Type of disability Poliomyelitis - requires stick to walk.
    Type of character Secondary.
    Point of view Third person.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Viking , 1987 .
      Extent: 353p.p.
      ISBN: 0670816639
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Faber ,
      1987 .
      image of person or book cover 7797660279560856551.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 353p.
      ISBN: 0571148263
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Picador ,
      1987 .
      image of person or book cover 6109204150801861948.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 367p.p.
      ISBN: 0312420803
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1988 .
      image of person or book cover 3304703897719434013.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 353p.
      ISBN: 0140108831 (pbk.)
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 1999 .
      image of person or book cover 2637878545544809703.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 367p.
      ISBN: 1875847685
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Harvill Press ,
      2000 .
      image of person or book cover 7202576075255190374.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 367p.
      Note/s:
      • Published: 28th December 2000
      ISBN: 1860465927 (pbk.)

Other Formats

  • Also braille and sound recording.

Works about this Work

A Piano Made in Australia : Reinventing an Emblem of Cultural Wealth in Murray Bail's The Voyage Marie Herbillon , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 31 no. 2 2017; (p. 361-373)

'[...]it is a conversation about Australia that exposes the sense of cultural superiority of the "ridiculously over-confident" (53) "Bertolt Brecht lookalike" (48; see also 94) and opposes it to Delage's own lack of self-confidence (exemplified, in the first place, by "his surprise" at being asked about his native countr y; 92). [...]the critic is more interested in Australia's natural stereotypes than in its architectural icons, which implies that, in his view, nature easily outweighs culture on the antipodean continent: "he only wanted to know about the dangerous spiders and sharks that infested Australia, and the snakes, how lethal were they really" (92); for him, the Sydney Opera House, which Delage's personal complex of secondarity leads him to consider "provincial" (70), is simply "typical of the New World['s]" preference for "appearance over substance" (92), while Delage is, for his part, tempted to think that it is precisely his piano's "appearance . . . [that] had shifted attention from the technical improvements hidden beneath the lid" (148). According to Eileen Battersby, Bail's "concise in scale" but "vastly thought-provoking novel" contains "some inspired nods to the great Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard's final [sic] novel, Woodcutters" (1984), which offers an über-critical portrayal of a "cannibalistic city" seemingly graced with a propensity for dragging the higher reaches of its "ap- palling society" (Bernhard 34) into what Bernhard describes as an insufferable "social hell" (4)-thereby subverting the values of this cultural elite from within since he8 was, up to a certain point, part of the same "artistic coterie" (Bernhard 84). [...]the Australian creator's own ongoing subservience to Western standards (despite Europe's enduringly paternalistic and misplaced assumptions of cultural superiority) is presented as his or her predicament.'  (Publication abstract)

Beneath the Camouflage : Mimicry and Settler False Consciousness in the Fiction of Murray Bail Michael Ackland , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies , Fall vol. 17 no. 2 2011; (p. 72-89)
Politics, Clichés and the 'Lucky Country' : Murray Bail's Critique of National Mythologies in 'Holden's Performance' Michael Ackland , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Zeitschrift fur Australienstudien , no. 25 2011; (p. 27-41)
The Long Hand of Murray Bail : Travel and Writing Paul Sharrad , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journeying and Journalling : Creative and Critical Meditations on Travel Writing 2010; (p. 25-36)
'In this paper Paul Sharrad suggests that Murray Bail 'could not have produced most of his work without journeying abroad, and that his book of travel observations, Longhand, offers insights into one particular kind of 'journeying' as well as his reliance on material picked up along his journeying out from and back to Australia. While he began serious writing around the age of 19 in his native South Australia, and composed some other stories during his years in Melbourne working in advertising, Bail did not really get going as a published writer until he had been overseas for several years, first in India and then England and Europe. His jottings in Longhand: a Writer's Notebook, show on the one hand, how his sense of being a writer affects his recording of the travel experience, and secondly, how much his travels have had an impact on his fiction.'' (25-26)
Spatial Linearity and Postcolonial Parody in Murray Bail's 'Holden's Performance' Marie Herbillon , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: A Sea for Encounters : Essays towards a Postcolonial Commonwealth 2009; (p. 149-164)
In this essay, the author explores the European origins of the trope of linearity and on the role it plays in the imposition of cultural space upon geographic space, 'focusing all along on Bail's parody of the straight line and on the ontological implications thereof' (149).
Bail's Performance Nicholas Jose , 1987 single work review
— Appears in: Island Magazine , Summer no. 33 1987; (p. 3-7)

— Review of Holden's Performance Murray Bail , 1987 single work novel
Penguins New and Revisited Reba Gostand , 1988 single work review
— Appears in: Social Alternatives , June vol. 7 no. 2 1988; (p. 57-58)

— Review of The Well Dressed Explorer Thea Astley , 1962 single work novel ; Landscape with Landscape Gerald Murnane , 1985 selected work short story ; That Eye, the Sky Tim Winton , 1986 single work novel ; Minimum of Two Tim Winton , 1987 selected work short story ; Testostero David Foster , 1987 single work novel ; The Invaluable Mystery Lesbia Harford , 1987 single work novel ; Holden's Performance Murray Bail , 1987 single work novel
Bail Catches our Comedy Peter Corris , 1987 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 23 May 1987; (p. 48)

— Review of Holden's Performance Murray Bail , 1987 single work novel
Bail Fires on all Fours in a Table of Disaffection Katharine England , 1987 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser Magazine , 18 July 1987; (p. 3)

— Review of Holden's Performance Murray Bail , 1987 single work novel
Bail is Back Again with a Triumph David Brooks , 1987 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian Magazine , 16-17 May 1987; (p. 15)

— Review of Holden's Performance Murray Bail , 1987 single work novel
Surveying a Novel Trend Russell Wenholz , 2004 single work column
— Appears in: Canberra Sunday Times , 11 July 2004; (p. 19)
Deceptive Construction : The Art of Building in Peter Carey's Illywhacker Brian Edwards , 2005 single work criticism
— Appears in: Fabulating Beauty : Perspectives on the Fiction of Peter Carey 2005; (p. 149-170)
A poststrucural reading of Carey's novel which considers the novel as 'an exercise in bricolage', and compares it with some of Murray Bail's texts.
Harriet's Historical Makeover Moya Costello , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 20-21 October 2007; (p. 8-9)
Moya Costello examines the significance of characters' names in Murray Bail's Holden's Performance, particularly Holden Shadbolt and Harriet Chandler.
Textuality, Mutability and Learning to Write Moya Costello , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT : The Journal of the Australian Association of Writing Programs , October vol. 11 no. 2 2007;
Author's abstract: Imitation is an ancient pedagogical practice. It enables creative writing students to attain mastery of their craft. But it calls originality into question. Intertextuality is both a form of homage to predecessors as well as an attempt to create something new. In my own creative writing projects I have been influenced by and paid homage to Murray Bail, specifically his novel Holden's Performance. I have written the faux biography of Harriet Chandler, a minor character in that novel. Intertextuality is characterised as a liminal space with the potential for change. Present in the master-apprentice or teacher-learner relationship is the potential for the texts and identities involved, temporarily fixed, to transform.

Spatial Linearity and Postcolonial Parody in Murray Bail's 'Holden's Performance' Marie Herbillon , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: A Sea for Encounters : Essays towards a Postcolonial Commonwealth 2009; (p. 149-164)
In this essay, the author explores the European origins of the trope of linearity and on the role it plays in the imposition of cultural space upon geographic space, 'focusing all along on Bail's parody of the straight line and on the ontological implications thereof' (149).
Last amended 24 May 2018 08:25:30
Settings:
  • Adelaide, South Australia,
  • Sydney, New South Wales,
  • Canberra, Australian Capital Territory,
  • 1920s
  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
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