Les Murray's 'Narrowspeak'

Pierce, Peter (2001) Les Murray's 'Narrowspeak'. Australian Literary Studies, 20 (2). pp. 76-86.

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[Extract] Though half in jest, Les Murray speaks of his prose writings - in comparison with his poetry - as 'Narrowspeak'. Not long ago he had hte chance of speaking to a whole people and to posterity through his prose. The paragraphs for which Murray might have been remembered in Australia have been struck from the record. Invited by the Prime Minister, John Howard, to write a new Preamble for the Australian Constitution (and perhaps one that might have become part of public memory, unlike the first) Murray chanced his arm. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister decided that he was il miglior fabbro; could play editor Eliot to Murray's poet Pound as it were, and fiddled with the draft. 'Mateship' (a word that scarcely figures in Murray's lexicon) was inserted, as if it spoke to a shared tradition of Australian men and women. Because of that, and other mangling changes, Murray bailed out. In the 1999 referendum, a model for a system of government some distance from Murray's long and often enunciated idea of 'the vernacular republic' was shamefully rejected. Howard's tin-eared preamble went down to a far heavier defeat. And that was about the end of the consolation in this sorry exercise.

Item ID: 13113
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0004-9697
Keywords: literary criticism; poetry
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2013 00:26
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 100%
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