The Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony: Hal Porter’s Triumph of Creative Contradiction


In The Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony Hal Porter records his own experience as infant, child and adolescent, one of six children of typically enthusiastic, all managing mother and typically little interested father, in the lower middle class flatlands of largely provincial Australia, from 1910 to 1928. This experience is in no way remarkable, as social fact, and accords completely with the limited possibilities of that time and place. What is remarkable is how Porter, using his formidable verbal resources and his other great gift, of 'total' and meticulous recall, re-creates the radiant way young Hal, Everyman in the making, comes to awareness of the revelatory nature of Time and Place, and the complementing roles of Life and Death. Hal's experience, this is to say, is just what it is, and it is much more than that. It embodies contradiction.

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Published 1 May 1986 in Volume 12 No. 3. Subjects: Autobiographical writing, Literary techniques, structures & modes, Use of language, Hal Porter.

Cite as: Burns, D. R.. ‘The Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony: Hal Porter’s Triumph of Creative Contradiction.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 12, no. 3, 1986, doi: 10.20314/als.3f649e4620.