David George Joseph Malouf (mah-LOOF) shows diversity both in his background and in his writing. He was born in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia. He grew up in this provincial city and graduated from the University of Queensland in 1954. His mother of British descent, his father Lebanese, Malouf from an early age identified with both Australia and Europe. At twenty-five, after working at temporary jobs in Brisbane, he moved to England, where he taught until 1968, when he returned to Australia. For the next ten years he lectured in literature at the University of Sydney. After the publication of several books of poetry and two novels, he decided to devote himself entirely to writing and moved to a Tuscan village. In 1985 he began to divide his time between Italy and Australia, as well as traveling in Europe and North America, insisting that he was not an expatriate. The autobiographical essays in 12 Edmondstone Street attempt to explain his double attachment to Australia and Europe.
This tow between two continents manifests itself in Malouf’s writing, which draws from both worlds. His major preoccupations are the oppositional forces within each individual and those in nature. He has chosen a wide range of literary forms to express these concerns.
Malouf published first as a poet, beginning in 1962, when he shared a book with three other Australian poets. Three more collections of poems appeared before the publication of his first novel, Johnno, in 1975. He continued to write verse, with Poems, 1959-1989 published in 1992. Commenting on his poetry, Malouf said: “I wrote poetry for a long time before I wrote prose that I thought publishable, and I think that you learn habits of working as a poet which I’ve used in making the fictions, so I think they are in their structures very poetic.” Although highly regarded in Australia for poetry as well as fiction, Malouf has gained an international reputation through his novels.
In Johnno, Malouf re-creates his Brisbane childhood during...
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