Miller is essential reading


“ART cannot do the conceptual work we need if we are to understand ourselves,” philosopher Raimond Gaita said in a recent interview, arguing that moral clarity was best achieved by philosophical thinking. Hearing him speak of the danger of lucidity losing out to the seductions of literature, I wanted to ask if he had read Alex Miller.

I suspect that, for Miller, the search for moral clarity is something like the terrible climb up the escarpment in the Expedition Ranges in his latest novel, Landscape of Farewell. Two old and damaged men, one a German professor and the other an Aboriginal leader, exhilarated by their quest but full of self-doubt and fearful of what they will find, clamber up ridge after ridge in the stone country seeking a sacred cave. And because fact and fiction are refracted through art and the play of imagination, we are not simply observing their struggle from the plain below.

“As a novelist, I have been not so much a liar as a re-arranger of facts,” Miller writes in an author’s note for a recent reissue of his 1989 novel The Tivington Nott. “The purely imaginary has never interested me as much as the actualities of our daily lives, and it is of these that I have written … not autobiography in the conventional sense, it is nevertheless deeply self-revealing of its author.”

more from The Australian here.