What a fabulous event this was for both third and first year students. Here in this photo are two of our international students from Germany Nesrin Gencer (on left) and Katrin Hartwig (both studying Australian and Twentieth Century Literature) with David Malouf and yours truly (MG).
I felt that we were all nourished in a new way by this event. To have the privilege of a visit from an author as well-known as David Malouf is indeed a rare treat. And to be feasted by his vast historical and literary context and by his insight into what he was attempting in his work, makes the discussion of his books so much more richly relevant to our own times; this is a wonderful addition to our learning this semester. Thank you all for making the effort to attend and for contributing so well to the discussions that flowed on from the presentation. Here it is worth assembling some of the additional rich material by David that is available on the web. There are his memorable Boyer Lectures which you can still listen to here. Then there are countless interviews with David Malouf which you can find if you simply Google David Malouf Interviews.
Overall I was moved by his own affirmation that the special insight into the heart of experience that he searches for in so many of his novels, is in fact that birthright of all human beings, not just those who have -for a variety of reasons- become elevated above others. There is this down-to-earth Australian humility that is at the heart of whatever David Malouf writes and at the heart of what I see in the man himself. Here is a short passage from near the end of Fly Away Peter where this idea is powerfully expressed:
“That is what life meant, a unique presence, and it was essential in every creature. To set anything above it, birth, position, talent even, was to deny to all but a few among the infinite millions what was common and real, and what was also, in the end, most moving. A life wasn’t for anything. It simply was.”
This is the experience that I feel David Malouf moves towards in so many of his novels: Ransom and An Imaginary Life in particular, where the elevated individual finds their reality in their connection with the earth, with everything that is on the other side of their grandiose public image.
Thank you David Malouf.