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The Experimental Fiction of Murray Bail By Michael Ackland

Chapter 1:  Enamoured with Art and Ideas
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The Experimental Fiction of Murray Bail

Chapter 1

Enamoured with Art and Ideas

The Early Bail

Murray Bail is among the most intellectually challenging and inventive of contemporary Australian novelists—and one of the most enigmatic. Although a writer of truly international stature, he has preferred to lead a self-effacing, intensely focused existence so that interviews not linked to a recent publication are as rare as his novels. These have appeared haltingly, at intervals of almost a decade. Composition for him is painfully slow and hard won. His entire output, after more than forty years’ labour as a writer, consists of four novels supplemented by two volumes of short fiction and sporadic works of nonfiction, plus a handful of uncollected stories. This record attests to a stern, exacting engagement with his craft, an engagement that has occasionally led to harsh judgments. When asked in 1990 to comment on the state of Australian letters, for instance, Bail did not present the familiar litany of the daunting impediments faced by would-be as well as established local authors. Instead, he lamented that it was so easy nowadays for so many writers to find publishers, while his pronouncements on modern art have been coloured by the concern “rightly or wrongly that my own work would be corroded