The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.
'A History of Books', a 'work of fiction', 'explores the relationship between reading and writing in twenty-nine sections, each of which begins with the memory of a book that left an image in the writer's mind'. (Back cover)
Epigraph: After a certain age our memories are so intertwined with one another that what we are thinking of, the book we are reading, scarcely matters any more. We have put something of ourselves everywhere, everything is fertile, everything is dangerous, and we can make discoveries no less precious than in Pascal's Pensees in an advertisement for soup. - Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.
Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of
'This new work by Gerald Murnane is a fictionalised autobiography told in thirty sections, each of which begins with the memory of a book that has left an image on the writer's mind. The titles aren't given but the reader follows the clues, recalling in the process a parade of authors, the great, the popular, and the now-forgotten. The images themselves, with their scenes of marital discord, violence and madness, or their illuminated landscapes that point to the consolations of a world beyond fiction, give new intensity to Murnane's habitual concern with the anxieties and aspirations of the writing life, in the absence of religious belief.
'A History of Books is accompanied by three shorter pieces of fiction which play on these themes, featuring the writer at different ages, as a young boy, a teacher, and an old recluse.' (From the publisher's website.)