A History of Books
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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.
living in an isolated place at a date several hundred years later than the twentieth century and devoting much of their time to the playing of a game with many-coloured glass beads, each of which was intended to represent or to suggest one or another item or strand or theme in the history of civilisation. The author of the book was a German man who was considered by some persons a deep thinker and who had been born sixty-two years before the birth of the owner of the book. For perhaps ten years
surname in the possessive case and the word Fag. The two words of the title were the only words from the book that the boy would remember, even a few years afterwards, but he would still remember, sixty and more years afterwards, some of what he had seen in his mind while he read and some of what he had felt. He would remember, for example, an image of a boy-man seated at a desk in an upstairs room that he called his study. The image-boy-man sometimes read from an image-book in which the
Things Past A man and a woman, husband and wife, were standing in the main square of a town such as might have been depicted, fifty and more years ago, in one or another so-called article about one or another country in Central America in one or another issue of the National Geographic Magazine. The time was probably mid-afternoon, and the air was surely hot. The man and the woman debated several matters during their time in the square. Once, at least, the woman struck the man and was struck
far imagined. The feeling mentioned above was a feeling of being accompanied by and watched over by not so much a person as a presence. This presence was unquestionably a female presence. Sometimes I imagined that the presence and I were no more than children who had agreed to be girlfriend and boyfriend. Sometimes I imagined, though I was still a child myself, that the presence and I were adults and were wife and husband. Sometimes I imagined the face of the presence, sometimes even the clothes
her island and staring out to sea. I was impelled to visit the library in the town of Y— and to consult a detailed atlas. I learned, with much excitement, that the island of Tristan da Cunha and the district where this farm is situated lie almost on the same latitude. I learned further that no land – not even the speck of an island – lies between Tristan and this coast. Now, dear niece, you must know as I know that the prevailing winds and currents in this hemisphere are from west to east, and so