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y separately published work icon The Plains single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1982... 1982 The Plains
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'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.

'There is no book in Australian literature like The Plains. In the two decades since its first publication, this haunting novel has earned its status as a classic. A nameless young man arrives on the plains and begins to document the strange and rich culture of the plains families. As his story unfolds, the novel becomes, in the words of Murray Bail, ‘a mirage of landscape, memory, love and literature itself’.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)

Notes

  • Epigraph: 'We had at length discovered a country ready for the immediate reception of civilised man...' (Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia).
  • Other formats: Also sound recording.

Contents

* Contents derived from the Melbourne, Victoria,:Text Publishing , 2017 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction, Ben Lerner , 2017 single work criticism

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Carlton, Parkville - Carlton area, Melbourne - North, Melbourne, Victoria,: Nostrilia Press , 1982 .
      image of person or book cover 7500456778924911679.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 126p.
      ISBN: 0909106096
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1984 .
      image of person or book cover 7096275673091851681.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 126p.
      ISBN: 0140071687
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      George Braziller ,
      1985 .
      Extent: 126p.
      Edition info: 1st American ed.
      ISBN: 0807611239
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: McPhee Gribble , 1990 .
      Extent: 113p.
      ISBN: 0869142364
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2000 .
      image of person or book cover 2286768769892635181.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 174p.
      Edition info: New ed.
      ISBN: 187485442
    • Kalamazoo, Michigan,
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      New Issues Press ,
      2003 .
      image of person or book cover 1367607131949677204.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 111p.
      Note/s:
      • Introduced by American poet Andrew Zawacki.
      ISBN: 1930974280
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2012 .
      image of person or book cover 6779855217238616069.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: xiv, 174p.p.
      Note/s:
      ISBN: 9781921922275 (pbk.)
      Series: y separately published work icon Text Classics Text Publishing (publisher), Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012- Z1851461 2012 series - publisher novel 'Great books by great Australian storytellers.' (Text website.)
Alternative title: Slätterna
Language: Swedish
    • Stockholm,
      c
      Sweden,
      c
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Bonniers ,
      2005 .
      image of person or book cover 1069017134424235111.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 139p.
      ISBN: 9100103241

Works about this Work

Green Shadows : Venturing into Gerald Murnane’s Plains Samantha Trayhurn , 2018 single work prose
— Appears in: Westerly , vol. 63 no. 1 2018; (p. 39-47)

'I have been delivered of my books.'

These words hang in the air as Gerald Murnane confirms his retirement during a rare address to around thirty academics, writers, publishers and fans at the Goroke Golf Club. The one-day symposium, 'Another World in This One : Gerald Murnane's Fiction, is part of the Western Sydney University's 'Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature' project. On first glance it is a curious connection: how can the life work of an author who has rarely left the small pockets of Victoria, suburban Melbourne and a few regional villages and towns that he has called home for eighty years inform us about a literature of the 'world'?' (Introduction)

Apprehending Landscapes : The Uncanny and Gerald Murnane's The Plains Harriet McInerney , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , June vol. 31 no. 1 2017; (p. 133-144)

'[...]the uncanny is from its beginning linked to a confusion between the recognizable and unrecognizable, as well the narrator's confusion over the true state of the world. If an attempt to "see properly" is signaled in the beginning and end, then the contents of the novel drives the filmmaker from searching the landscape for a "meaning behind appearances" to the final scene, where the filmmaker offers this image: "my finger poised as if to expose the film in its dark chamber that was the only visible sign of what I saw beyond myself' (Plains 174). Murnane's return to publishing fiction began with Barley Patch (2009), in which the unnamed narrator says that it would suit his purpose to report learning while young that "a work of fiction is not necessarily enclosed within the mind of its author but extends on its farther sides into little-known territory" (71). Gelder and Jacobs use the idea of the uncanny as a means to explore a history of disquiet happenings in postcolonial society, and a feeling of disquiet does seem to exist in The Plains, in its examinations of exploration and changing landscapes.'  (Publication abstract)

A Strange Australian Masterpiece Ben Lerner , 2017 single work column
— Appears in: The New Yorker , 29 March 2017;

'The Australian writer Gerald Murnane was born in a suburb of Melbourne, in 1939, and has spent his entire life in Australia. His novel “The Plains,” first published thirty-five years ago and reissued next month, is a bizarre masterpiece that can feel less like something you’ve read than something you’ve dreamed.'  (Introduction)

Postmodernist and Literary Experiments : Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Pacific Victoria Kuttainen , Greg Manning , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Oxford History of the Novel in English : The Novel in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the South Pacific Since 1950 2017; (p. 221-235)

'In the late 1980s, as the Canadian scholar Robert David Stacey remarks, 'talk of postmodernism was everywhere' (2010, xii). Yet postmodernism certainly took regional forms. Novelists in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific briefly and tentatively identified under the banner of the postmodern, while writers in Canada took up the cause and title of the postmodern more visibly and actively.'

'More and More a Place That Only I Could Interpret' : Interpretation and Gerald Murnane's The Plains Kelli Rowe , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Border Crossings 2016; (p. 43-52)

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)

Soundings from Down Under Nicholas Birns , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: Antipodes , June vol. 17 no. 1 2003; (p. 60-63)

— Review of Armidale Louis Simpson , 1979 selected work poetry prose ; 'Unemployed at Last!' : Essays on Australian Literature to 2002 for Julian Croft 2002 anthology criticism ; The Plains Gerald Murnane , 1982 single work novel ; Authority and Influence : Australian Literary Criticism 1950-2000 2001 anthology criticism extract ; Black Sheep : Journey to Borroloola Nicholas Jose , 2002 single work prose
Murnane Makes It Plain: The Truth is Out There Jean-François Vernay , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 18 no. 2 2004; (p. 179-180)

— Review of The Plains Gerald Murnane , 1982 single work novel
Norstrilia Press Catalogue Bruce Gillespie , 1996 single work review
— Appears in: Scratch Pad 15 , April 1996; (p. 1-2)

— Review of The View from the Edge : A Workshop of Science Fiction Stories 1977 anthology short story ; In the Heart or in the Head : An Essay in Time Travel George Turner , 1984 single work autobiography criticism ; An Unusual Angle Greg Egan , 1983 single work novel ; Dreamworks : Strange New Stories 1983 anthology short story ; The Plains Gerald Murnane , 1982 single work novel ; The Dreaming Dragons : A Time Opera Damien Broderick , 1980 single work novel ; Moon in the Ground Keith Antill , 1979 single work novel ; Landscape with Landscape Gerald Murnane , 1985 selected work short story
Untitled Sam Cooney , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Lifted Brow , no. 14 2012; (p. 28)

— Review of The Plains Gerald Murnane , 1982 single work novel
Gerald Murnane's 'The Plains' John Tittensor , 1982 single work review
— Appears in: Meanjin , Summer vol. 41 no. 4 1982; (p. 523-525)

— Review of The Plains Gerald Murnane , 1982 single work novel
Bookmarks : Plain Sales to Sweden Jason Steger , 2003 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 5 July 2003; (p. 6)
The Photographic Eye: The Camera in Recent Australian Fiction Paul Genoni , 2002 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 16 no. 2 2002; (p. 137-141)
Genoni discusses Australian novels, published largely in the late 1990s, that feature 'a character who is a cameraman or woman, sometimes professional, sometimes amateur, but to whom the world is framed, filtered and focused through the lens, the viewfinder, and the zoom.' He concludes, 'if we accept that space is produced by discursive practices, then we must question whether the text that is embedded in over 150 years of photgraphic production has not shaped an imagination that encounters space in terms of time as well as, or perhaps rather than, place.'
The Figure of Woman and the Fantasy of the Modern Australian Nation : Travelling to the 'Empty Centre' Kate Foord , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Feminist Studies , November vol. 18 no. 42 2003; (p. 273-283)
The article offers 'a Lacanian analysis of the function of Woman in Murnane's The Plains, a novel which is itself preoccupied with the use made of the image of Woman in the reproduction of prevailing national fantasies' (273).
Gerald Murnane : Exploring the Real Country Paul Genoni , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Subverting the Empire : Explorers and Exploration in Australian Fiction 2004; (p. 145-194)
'Inner Experience' in Gerald Murnane's The Plains Andrew Zawacki , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Imagining Australia : Literature and Culture in the New New World 2004; (p. 108-119)
Last amended 8 May 2018 12:00:39
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