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Book Title: Fredy Neptune|
The author of the book: Les Murray
Date of issue: February 2004
ISBN 13: 9783250104759
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 3.4
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 315 KB
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'End with Fredy Neptune!' Les Murray told his biographer Peter Alexander. 'It is the story of the Twentieth Century, it is the big story, the fate of the Germans and the fate they visited on others'. I’d forgotten exactly what I’d read about Fredy Neptune in that literary biography – I only recall it was the one book of Les Murray I had to read. So I did and found a novel in verse, a novel that covers the first half of the 20th century through the peregrinations of the eponymous hero, the story of a man of the people as opposed to the police, whose tale engages in the fast telling and whose character attracts a slow empathy through a surreal turn of events in obscure little corners of history. An Antipodean of German extraction he dives into his wild career like Forrest Gump – Murray says he never saw the film before he wrote the novel – and takes us round the world with him, through the two wars, an Everyman meeting characters and politics, situations and morality in an unconventional flow of language and striking image. He turns the story in a sentence mid-stanza and races through dire conditions that apply to the human race as much as to him, Fredy the survivor. Turn the page to enjoy a stimulating shower from the poet and polymath with the next bucket of words, maybe not all so sweet, which bring you up short with his allusions, acute turns of phrase and a facility to reshape perception. 'There’s a lot of me in Fredy' said Murray, and to that you can add incident and people from his life. Murray himself was a victim of tribalism; the police in the book equate to mobs and their rule from which he’d suffered. He engages with the ‘isms’ that have swept the world so disastrously. Fredy and Murray are very appealing – not for nothing was he subsequently awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
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Read information about the authorLeslie Allan Murray (born 1938) is the outstanding poet of his generation and one of his country's most influential literary critics. A nationalist and republican, he sees his writing as helping to define, in cultural and spiritual terms, what it means to be Australian.
Leslie Allan Murray was born in 1938 in Nabiac, a village on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia, and spent his childhood and youth on his father's dairy farm nearby. The area is sparsely populated, hilly, and forested, and the beauty of this rural landscape forms a backdrop to many of Murray's best poems, such as 'Spring Hail':
smoked, and the heavens swirled and blew away.
The paddocks were endless again, and all around
leaves lay beneath their trees, and cakes of moss."
His parents were poor and their weatherboard house almost bare of comforts; Murray remarked that it was not until he went to the university that he first met the middle class. His identification was with the underprivileged, especially the rural poor, and it was this that gave him his strong sense of unity with Aborigines and with 'common folk'. The title he chose for his Selected Poems, The Vernacular Republic, indicates both this sense of unity and his Wordsworthian belief that through the use of 'language really spoken by men' poets can speak to and for the people.
Many of the Scottish settlers on the New South Wales coast had been forced out of Scotland by the Highland clearances of the l9th century, and they in turn were among those who dispossessed the Aboriginal Kattang tribe around the Manning valley; in later years Murray's own father was forced off the land by family chicanery. The theme of usurpation, whether of land or of culture, as well as the influence of Murray's Celtic background, often make themselves felt in his work, as one sees in poems such as 'A Walk with O'Connor,' in which the two Australian Celts try in vain to understand Gaelic on a tombstone, the grave becoming symbolic of the death of Celtic culture:
"...reading the Gaelic, constrained and shamefaced, we tried to guess what it meant
then, drifting away, translated Italian off opulent tombstones nearby in our discontent."
In 1957 Murray went to the University of Sydney to study modern languages. While there he worked on the editorial boards of student publications. At Sydney he was converted from the Free Kirk Presbyterianism of his parents to Roman Catholicism, and the influence of passionately held Christian convictions can be seen everywhere in his verse, though seldom overtly; instead it shows itself, in poems such as 'Blood' or 'The Broad Bean Sermon,' in a strong sense of the power of ritual in everyday life and of the sacramental quality of existence. 'AImost everything they say is ritual,' he remarked of rural Australians in one of his best-known poems, 'The Mitchells.'
He left Sydney University in 1960 without a degree, and in 1963, on the strength of his studies in modern languages, became a translator of foreign scholarly material at the Australian National University in Canberra. His first volume of poems, The llex Tree (written with Geoffrey Lehmann), won the Grace Leven Prize for poetry on its publication in 1965, and in the same year Murray made his first trip out of Australia, to attend the British Commonwealth Arts Festival Poetry Conference in Cardiff. His appetite whetted by this visit, he gave up his translator's post in 1967 and spent over a year traveling in Britain and Europe. Travel had the effect of confirming him in his Australian nationalism; he was a republican who believed that Australia should throw off the shackles of political and cultural dependence, and he saw his work as helping to achieve that end.
On his return to Australia he resumed his studies, graduating from Sydney University in 1969. After that he earned his living as a full-time poet and writer. He is one of Australia's most influential literary critics and
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