Thomas Keneally Long Fiction Analysis
Thomas Keneally has written books on a variety of subjects. His first novel to attain international readership, Bring Larks and Heroes, presents the barbarous life of eighteenth century Sydney; Three Cheers for the Paraclete concerns a Catholic priest who attacks the Church for its indifference to social evil; The Survivor and A Victim of the Aurora are stories about Antarctic expeditions, told in flashback by aged narrators; A Dutiful Daughter is a surrealistic tale of a family in which the parents are bovine from the waist down. One may, however, separate Keneally’s work into two parts, albeit roughly: the novels that deal with seemingly ordinary, contemporary individuals, and the wide range of what might be called historical novels.
In a large portion of his work, Keneally concerns himself with European history, examining closely the human beings involved, seeing the past not as the present sees it, as a series of neatly wrapped, complete events, but as the participants experience it: as a jumble of occurrences that seem to have little meaning or purpose. Although some reviewers have commented on the portentousness lurking in the background of such works as Gossip from the Forest, a fictionalized re-creation of the 1918 peace talks that led to the disastrous Treaty of Versailles, such “damaging knowingness” is only partly Keneally’s fault; after all, the present knows what happened in the...
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