Dramatising the Self: Beverley Farmer’s Fiction


There is a clear autobiographical dimension to Beverley Farmer's fiction: her own life and experience provide the material that goes into her writing, and the latter charts her progress, as it were, down the years. Unlike many other novelists such as Keneally, Malouf or Hall, she does not have to research her subjects - she looks within, as her muse is truly Mnemosyne's daughter. In A Body of Water she evokes the sense of growth to which she aspires both as a human being and as an artist, and the need to harness together personal and artistic development: 'Is the past all I am, or at least all I can know of what I am? If my new stories can't reach into the new time, grow from the new self, better to be writing none' (166). Her fiction must confirm her evolution, her maturation, or it is not worth writing. Its function, then, is largely to dramatise the writer's self, reflect all its many facets, including the more private or painful ones, and thus exorcise the pain, the doubts and the bitterness, making further evolution possible.

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Published 1 October 1995 in Volume 17 No. 2. Subjects: Australian novels & novelists, Autobiographies, Imagery, Narrative techniques, Self perception, Writer's inspiration, Beverley Farmer.

Cite as: Pons, Xavier. ‘Dramatising the Self: Beverley Farmer’s Fiction.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, 1995, doi: 10.20314/als.563da5d599.