Remembering Babylon; Thoughts through the tears.

This is the second review I have done of the book. The first was an overview and the synopsis. This will focus a bit on the style of writing, some of the content, and my final feelings about the book.

Last week, we discussed in class, the “monologue of thought” (for want of a better term) of Janet, now Sister Monica. We discussed briefly why the author had used such punctuation to create the longest sentence I have ever read. I don’t know if it entered the Guinness Book of World Records, or was even an attempt, but it would get a good crack at the title. There are a couple of reasons I can see why David Malouf would have used such a style.

1. The segways of thought do occur naturally in some people’s minds, if not all; certainly in mine. We think in major clusters. One thought does not stop and then another begin, but one merges or segways into another.

2. The writer was in a way summarising the whole idea of the book in one passage and wanted to continue with that thought without interruption to the flow.

I could use the above observations of this passage in my final essay. However, I will not be concentrating on that passage, so I thought I would put it here.

I can see why Rosemary thought that it might have a sad ending, and like Rosemary, I wanted the book to continue. I had become familiar with the Characters. My desire was to know more about what happened in their lives. Not just Lachlan and Janet, whom the book focuses, but others. Mr Frazer for one, with whom I identify most closely. What happened to him. What of the other children? Who did Leona finally choose as a suitor, or husband? What about Meg? We hear so little of her, even in the discourse between a now grown up Lachlan and Janet at the end of the book. Ok OK, so I am getting into the details way too much and not concentrating on the bigger picture. The characters in this story are of little consequence, it is the story itself and the connotations it implies that is the important thing.

What Character do I relate to most? This was raised as a possible blog entry this week.

I relate mostly to Mr Frazer. Mr Frazer found  Gemmy intriguing. How had this man come to a place where he was just forgotten? How could I make the world right again for this man? It was these reasons that led him to report to the Governor; along with the need to show that the land produces its own fruit, its own character, and we did not need to import England, with its “peaches with a nice blush”, or “strawberries which peek from beneath leaves”. This land has its own fruit. The story of Gemmy, to Frazer, may have shown that man can conquer this land, can understand its ways, can survive apart from Mother England.

Frazer was naive when faced with the Premier who, at least in my eyes, was obviously gay. He was living with his partner. They had named the property after a conglomeration of the two names. The Premier was included and accepted by the Governor and his wife, and the dinner was to point out to Frazer that the church too should accept this union, this lifestyle.

I too am naive, when subtleties are put before me. Too often I have acted innocently and have indeed been innocent, when someone is trying to be subtle. I too am inquisitive when faced with a person or situation that is new, and wish to understand as much about that situation or person as possible, before forming an opinion in my head. My opinions may  have basis in my upbringing, or tradition with regards to the church, but I don’t see these as the be all and end all authorities of my life. I use them as stepping-stones, and make opinions of my own, without bias or prejudice as far as possible.

I think of Frazer as being similar to me in  that I stand against injustice, sometimes with a passion, and sometimes to my detriment. I try to see that each person, regardless of skin colour, religion, age, sexual persuasion, beliefs, mental wellness, crimes past committed… everyone is treated as a human being; with equal rights.

I guess I see things in this way. People have given me second chances. Have accepted me into their community when past close friends, and even family have rejected me. If others can do that for me, then what right have I not to accept everyone else.

Here endth my blog for this evening


1 Comment

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One response to “Remembering Babylon; Thoughts through the tears.

  1. That is a wonderful and detailed exploration of aspects of Malouf’s style and its bearing on the way his novel communicates. Well done Dave! This will be a great starting point for the class this afternoon.

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