“Some further being”: engaging with the other in David Malouf's an imaginary life
The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
17 - 32
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This article is most concerned with analysing the role of the other in Malouf’s fiction. It briefly considers Malouf’s relationship with history and postcoloniality before engaging in a close reading focused on Malouf’s personal grammar and figurative patterns. The argument demonstrates that Malouf’s style orients itself toward transformation: the grammar is active, movement-oriented, and the figures notably hybrid or syncretic. Text-making thus reveals itself as a principal path of approach to the other. Identification, as portrayed in psychoanalytic theory, presents itself as another path, especially in relation to imagination and dreams. The essay recognizes that a full apprehension of the other is not perhaps possible, although moments of contact and revitalizing exchange clearly are. Brief examination of the relation between otherness and the broader social world follows, giving attention to questions of gender. Extending beyond its exclusive consideration of An Imaginary Life, the essay concludes by acknowledging that Malouf explores his sense of the other most illuminatingly in relation to I-and-you.