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David Malouf Biography

(1934– ), Bicycle and Other Poems, Neighbours in a Thicket, First Things Last, Selected Poems

poems writer fiction exile

Australian poet and fiction writer, born in Brisbane. Malouf first established his reputation with Bicycle and Other Poems (1970), while Neighbours in a Thicket (1974) revealed an early interest in European history. The poems in First Things Last (1980) explored the contours of landscapes of the mind; Selected Poems appeared in 1980 and New and Collected Poems in 1991. The shift from the apparently autobiographical Johnno (1975) to An Imaginary Life (1978), which with extraordinary power recreated the inner and outer worlds of the poet Ovid in exile on the Black Sea, revealed Malouf as a talented fiction writer. Child's Play (1982; published with Fly Away Peter, 1982) drew on Malouf's perceptions of contemporary Italy in its exploration of the links a terrorist perceives between himself and the writer who is his intended victim. Fly Away Peter was set in Queensland before the First World War, juxtaposing its peaceful lush landscape with the destructive horrors of the European trenches. Harland's Half Acre (1984), an acclaimed family saga set in rural Australia, presented the central character, painter Frank Harland, as a visionary exile. Antipodes (1985) was a collection of short stories, while 12 Edmonstone Street (1985) discerningly explored four different, but complementary, pasts, from childhood Brisbane to Tuscany where Malouf lived from 1977. His first play, Blood Relations (1988), is about a Christmas gathering and the tensions it releases. Returning to fiction in The Great World (1990) Malouf used differing reactions to war to evoke a wide-ranging picture of Australian life. He was highly acclaimed for his detailed evocation of a past age in Remembering Babylon (1993), a novel charting a young boy's struggle to accept the white culture he is restored to after spending sixteen years with Aborigines. He has also written Baa Baa Black Sheep: A Jungle Tale (1993), a libretto for an opera by Michael Berkeley, based on work by Rudyard Kipling. Malouf has demonstrated an impressive range of voices and interests, and in international review articles has shown himself to be an important cultural critic.

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