Great Australian Authors #38 - Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw

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Marjorie Barnard (1897 - 1987) and Flora Eldershaw (1897 - 1956)

The first light was welling up in the east. In the west a few stars were dying in the colourless sky. The waking sky was enormous and under it the sleeping earth was enormous too. It was a great platter with one edge tilted up into the light, so that the pattern of hills, dark under a gold dust bloom, was visible. The night had been warm and still, as early autumn nights sometimes are, and with a feeling of transience, of breaking ripeness, of doomed fertility, like a woman who does not show her age but whose beauty will crumble under the first grief or hardship. With the dawn, sheets of thin cold air were slipping over the earth, congealing the warmth into a delicate smoking mist. Knarf was glad to wrap his woollen cloak about him. Standing on the flat roof in the dawn he felt giddily tall and, after a night of intense effort, transparent with fatigue. Weariness was spread evenly through his body. He was supersensitively aware of himself, the tension of his skin nervously tightened by long concentration, the vulnerability of his temples, the frailty of his ribs caging his enlarged heart, the civilisation of his hands . . . Flesh and imagination were blent and equally receptive. The cold air struck his hot forehead with a shock of excitement, he looked out over the wide sculptury of light, darkness, earth, with new wonder. For a few moments turning so suddenly from work to idleness, everything had an exaggerated significance. When he drew his fingers along the balustrade, leaving in the thick moisture faint dark marks on its glimmering whiteness, that, too, seemed like a contact, sharply intimate, with the external world where the rising light was beginning to show trees dark and grass grey with that same dew.

From Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by M. Bernard Eldershaw, 1947 (censored version), 1983 (complete version)

A bit of explanation is required here: This novel was originally published in 1947 under the title Tomorrow and Tomorrow after the text was censored by the Australian Government. The book's original title, and the censored text, was restored in the Virago Modern Classics edition of 1987. M. Bernard Eldershaw was the pseuodnym used by Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow was the fifth novel they wrote together between 1929 and 1947. It was also to be their last. The book is considered to be one of Australia's major early science fiction novels and was named by Patrick White, in the 1980s, as the Australian novel he would most like to see republished.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 11, 2007 2:13 PM.

Reviews of Australian Books #40 was the previous entry in this blog.

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