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The Pages

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Ng her is Sophie who needs a distraction from a string of failed relationships Her field is psychoanalysis These two women each with a different view of the world meet a situation they have not experienced before with surprising resul I'm sorry but this book just didn't cut it OK so Bail's prose is enigmatic and slippery but the premise here is contrived at best an academic is sent to a remote farm to read the writings of a little known hermit philosopher who has passed away What follows unsurprisingly is a thinly veiled philosophical indulgence with some eually thin characters Look I did uite enjoy his earlier Canowindra book even allowing for the unexpected Clare uilty like appearance of the suitor But The Pages has made me reconsider the premise of that book in a different way now too Sentus Libri 100 word reviews of overlooked books

review ß eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Ð Murray Bail

Murray Bail’s first novel since Eucalyptus is a beguiling meditation on friendship and love on men and women on landscape and the difficulties of thought itselfWhat are THE PAGESOn a family sheep station in the interior of Australia a An increasingly prominent Australian writer The problem with this book is a problem it shares with many others it just isn't ambitious enough It's about a psychoanalyst and a philosopher both women who go into the Centre to look at the papers of a self styled philosopher who had lived on a sheep ranch The theme has potential as a dialogue among women friends this is the best developed part as a meditation on nation and landscape as a philosophic contrast between psychoanalysis and literature and as a novel of letters It just doesn't do very much with any of those themes When the dead philosopher's papers are finally sampled at the end of the book they reveal Bail's idea of philosophy at least in this instance as a mixture of Wittgenstein popular psychobiography and undigested Nietzsche I wouldn't trust Bail to write about philosophy or the idea of philosophy and I have no evidence he knows anything about psychotherapy The book is strong when it's about imagining the inner lives of the two women but there is no much that could have been done here The moral for me is this if you're going to write a novel of ideas put in the ideas If the novel has big ideas in it here the entire history of Western philosophy then the prose should work to include those ideas in their full difficulty The aspiring philosopher in the novel who has died has left sheets of aphorisms hanging on a clothesline What if those had been real aphorisms What if they had been Ludwig Hohl's sheets Elias Canetti's Wittgenstein's Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène (1) on friendship and love La Commune et les Communards on men and women Les aides de camp de Napoléon et des maréchaux sous le Premier Empire (1804-1815) on landscape and the difficulties Mémoires, Chaque pas doit être un but (Tome 1) of thought itselfWhat are THE PAGESOn a family sheep station in the interior Ecorces of Australia a An increasingly prominent Australian writer The problem with this book is a problem it shares with many Lettres à Anne: (1962-1995) others it just isn't ambitious enough It's about a psychoanalyst and a philosopher both women who go into the Centre to look at the papers Mélancolie française of a self styled philosopher who had lived Opération bagration la revanche de Staline (été 1944) on a sheep ranch The theme has potential as a dialogue among women friends this is the best developed part as a meditation L'État contre les juifs: Vichy, les nazis et la persécution antisémite on nation and landscape as a philosophic contrast between psychoanalysis and literature and as a novel Nouvelle histoire de la France contemporaine, Tome 8 : 1848 ou l'apprentissage de la République, 1848-1852 of letters It just doesn't do very much with any Les soldats de la honte of those themes When the dead philosopher's papers are finally sampled at the end Le traité de Versailles et la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale: Chronique d’une paix manquée of the book they reveal Bail's idea Le jour le plus long : 6 juin 1944 of philosophy at least in this instance as a mixture Itinéraire d'un triangle rose of Wittgenstein popular psychobiography and undigested Nietzsche I wouldn't trust Bail to write about philosophy Noirs dans les camps nazis or the idea Par le sang versé of philosophy and I have no evidence he knows anything about psychotherapy The book is strong when it's about imagining the inner lives Le Monde selon De Gaulle : Tome 2, Le général à livre ouvert... of the two women but there is no much that could have been done here The moral for me is this if you're going to write a novel Mai 68 l'arnaque du siècle of ideas put in the ideas If the novel has big ideas in it here the entire history Ils partiront dans l'ivresse : Lyon (mai 43)-Londres (février 44) of Western philosophy then the prose should work to include those ideas in their full difficulty The aspiring philosopher in the novel who has died has left sheets Vaincre sans gloire: Le corps expéditionnaire français en Italie (novembre 1942-juillet 1944) of aphorisms hanging Opération "Torch" on a clothesline What if those had been real aphorisms What if they had been Ludwig Hohl's sheets Elias Canetti's Wittgenstein's

Murray Bail Ð 8 Summary

Brother and sister work the property while their reclusive brother Wesley Antill spends years toiling away in one of the sheds writing a philosophy Now he has died Erica a philosopher is sent from Sydney to appraise his work Accompanyi I found this an elusive text about philosophy the inner and the outer life friendship and obsession The language is reflective recursive ambiguous poetic Much of the settings are reminiscent of Eucalyptus a wonderful Bail novel but this didn’t have the same impact on me It would probably repay re reading but with so many good books to tempt me I doubt I will Souvenirs de campagnes du sergent Faucheur one Nouvelle Histoire de la France contemporaine, tome 10 : Les Débuts de la troisième République, 1871-1898 of the sheds writing a philosophy Now he has died Erica a philosopher is sent from Sydney to appraise his work Accompanyi I found this an elusive text about philosophy the inner and the La France et les Français sous la IIIe République 1870-1940 outer life friendship and Nouvelle Histoire de la France contemporaine, tome 9 : De la fête impériale au mur des fédérés, 1852-1871 obsession The language is reflective recursive ambiguous poetic Much Un souvenir de Solférino (Éd.1862) of the settings are reminiscent Le champ de luzerne of Eucalyptus a wonderful Bail novel but this didn’t have the same impact Le Triomphe de la République - 1871-1914 on me It would probably repay re reading but with so many good books to tempt me I doubt I will


10 thoughts on “The Pages

  1. says:

    Murray Bail's 1998 book Eucalyptus is one of my most beloved books It resonates so strongly with me that I'm always disappointed when other readers don't like it like I do even though I can understand it especially if they're not Australian and have never been there It's a mix of Bail's distinctive writing style and the story itself it either works for you or it doesn'tThe same is very much true of The Pages a simple short novel about two women psychologists from Sydney who travel seven hours to a sheep station in rural New South Wales to read a possible philosophic work written by a farmer's son Wesley Antill now dead It was in his will that someone read and evaluate his work with the possibility of publishing it and Erica is sent by the university to do just that She takes her friend Sophie with her who after yet another failed affair with a married man needs a break Wesley's younger brother and sister Roger and Lindsey run the sheep station and are just as curious about Wesley's work Interwoven with this present day story is the story of Wesley leaving home first to live in Sydney and then to travel around EuropePerhaps because it's a simpler straight forward story perhaps because it's uiet and uneventful but it was definitely not the masterpiece Eucalyptus is It still has Bail's beautiful introspective prose a style I simply do not have the words for and in my failure I can only let Bail speak for himself Erica who was holding onto the door just his thumb and forefingeer keeping them on track hand closest often changing down to first saw how his way of conversing which had plenty stops and starts and false trails than actual words followed the contours of the meandering landscape Having to negotiate the unevenness on a daily basis had infected his speech And when coming out with a sentence of than three words he closed his eyes the eyelids fluttering slightly as he spoke p87On the train to Bath a young Frenchman with a violin case on his knees spoke of the conversion of nature into art Art being human is imperfect hence its power smiled the Frenchman Antill enjoyed the conversation and thought of seeing of him perhaps becoming friends but when it came to it he couldn't find his address Women were like small towns to come upon them and be surrounded by their neatness but without the help of directions before reaching unexpected dead ends; and begin all over again elsewhere p123It was time for Erica to return to the shed to submerge herself in the pages But it was comfortable on the veranda in the cane chairs with cushions looking out past the sheds to the brown purple horizon tall spreading gum on the left Lindsey was easy company The way she allowed and even encouraged gaps imitated the landscape p170It's Bail's ability to anthropomorphise the land or to do the opposite to render humans and their ways into a kind of landscape to naturalise them that I love However I felt that his style was limited here that it wasn't uite appropriate to the story or didn't go far enough It certainly doesn't have the same magic as in Eucalyptus I struggled to find uote worthy passages and I'm not sure I picked appropriate ones Bail writes like he truly understands that writing is an artform and he's still experimenting It may be a weaker story and his prose might not be as satisfying as it was in his first book but it still picks me up and carries me off as if on the wind all lightness and astute glimpses into people's heartsThat's the magic of Bail's prose to enable me to see things in a way I'd never seen them before It's got nothing to do with adjectives not really It's of an approach and a perspective It comes across as a tell rather than show style because it's very narrative but actually when you stop to think about it you'll realise how much he's not saying but subtly revealing or leaving open to interpretation Yet even just looking at these uotes here I found some of the grammar and structure awkward and itch to readjust itThe actual story didn't interest me as much though I did like it I liked Erica's story better than Wesley's Wesley wasn't a convincing character but an inconclusive one Not as believable despite being familiar He read too fictional and I felt nothing for him except I admit a bit of superiorityDespite my complaints I still really liked it mostly because of how Bail can transport me home to the country I love best and miss with all my heart and which I feel Bail always knows how to bring alive for me like he's the only one who understands and sees the country the same way I do I can lose myself in his words His style isn't for everyone that I can understand and this isn't the better book to start with He has three other novels and a collection of short stories but I can only speak for Eucalyptus which makes my veins hum


  2. says:

    An increasingly prominent Australian writer The problem with this book is a problem it shares with many others it just isn't ambitious enough It's about a psychoanalyst and a philosopher both women who go into the Centre to look at the papers of a self styled philosopher who had lived on a sheep ranch The theme has potential as a dialogue among women friends this is the best developed part as a meditation on nation and landscape as a philosophic contrast between psychoanalysis and literature and as a novel of letters It just doesn't do very much with any of those themes When the dead philosopher's papers are finally sampled at the end of the book they reveal Bail's idea of philosophy at least in this instance as a mixture of Wittgenstein popular psychobiography and undigested Nietzsche I wouldn't trust Bail to write about philosophy or the idea of philosophy and I have no evidence he knows anything about psychotherapy The book is strong when it's about imagining the inner lives of the two women but there is no much that could have been done here The moral for me is this if you're going to write a novel of ideas put in the ideas If the novel has big ideas in it here the entire history of Western philosophy then the prose should work to include those ideas in their full difficulty The aspiring philosopher in the novel who has died has left sheets of aphorisms hanging on a clothesline What if those had been real aphorisms? What if they had been Ludwig Hohl's sheets? Elias Canetti's? Wittgenstein's?


  3. says:

    I recently saw the film Another Year by Mike Leigh and I was intrigued by the way he blended comedy and tragedy so that I wasn't always certain which was which Murray Bail does something similar in this book which often took me by surprise Sometimes I wondered if I was meant to understand what I was reading or if it wasn't just a bit of an elbow nudge The story is about what happens when two women friends Erica a philosopher and Sophie a psychoanalyst venture from the City into the wilds of outback New South Wales Alternately we read about the life of Wesley Antill whose papers Erica has been asked to assess He is the deceased older brother of Lesley and Roger sister and brother who run the family sheep station who as a self proclaimed philosopher spent many years abroad before returning home to write his life's workIt is a tale of travels including those of the mind and heart; and the 'big' uestions of philosophy and the emotions It is a small book but one to savour It will continue to amuse and perplex me for uite some time Highly recommended


  4. says:

    As I loved Eucalyptus by Murray Bail I expected to do the same with The Pages And there was every reason I should; I grew up on an Australian sheep station and am writing about an eccentric philosopher author of a similar era late 1800's I resonate with the landscape smell of lanolin and sense of alien incongruity felt by the main character So I was surprised to find this book less engrossing although there were felicitous images and phrases


  5. says:

    I found this an elusive text about philosophy the inner and the outer life friendship and obsession The language is reflective recursive ambiguous poetic Much of the settings are reminiscent of Eucalyptus a wonderful Bail novel but this didn’t have the same impact on me It would probably repay re reading but with so many good books to tempt me I doubt I will


  6. says:

    At the time of his death Wesley Antill son of a wealthy sheep farmer and self declared philosopher had left his rambling thoughts in big heaps of scattered handwritten notes all over his shed study His siblings Lindsey and Roger having looked after the farm while intellectual Wesley pondered life and philosophy are tasked with publishing his work To assess the value and validity of Wesley's notes as having the makings of a philosophy Erica Hazlehurst herself an established philosopher from Sydney arrives with her psychoanalyst friend Sophie in the remote Australian Outback Two city women in the wilds the challenges start there Ten years after the award winning Eucalyptus A Novel Bail's new novel has been greatly anticipated The least one can say that this slim volume provided much encouragement for reflection on the meaning of thought self philosophy and some lighter humorous fare as life intrudesBail tells the story from two related perspectives alternating throughout the narrative First Erica's exposure to Wesley's writing but poignantly to the Antills and their enormously different life from one that she is familiar with and even important and to the power of the bare and empty countryside These aspects are beautifully evoked by the author Interleaved are Wesley's unstructured accounts and musings of his version of a modern Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship first in Sydney then in England and Europe Some pages of writing contain only a few sentences or words pinned on a line across the room are these to be interpreted as element of his philosophy? Erica and the reader struggles to piece anything coherent together It will take months to work through the wealth of material Without doubt the author enjoys toying with the reader's creative imagination Intriguing thought elements hint at deeper analysis if Erica could only find those bits of paper leaving uestions than providing answers For example why the Australian landscape and climate are not conducive to philosophical thoughtThe beauty of Australian landscapes in particular the dry and sparse surroundings of the sheep farm are exuisitely conveyed Bail is well known for his talent in this regard and for his ability to create atmospheres that reflect the intense impact the landscape can have on people living in it or suddenly exposed to it The relationships between the four protagonists on the other hand while well set up initially drawing the reader into a range of complexities are not fully realized and leave the reader hoping for exploration Erica with her own reflections on philosophy and changing perspectives make her the interesting character While Bail has been counted among the post modernist authors the novel could have benefited for detail and depth All in all not a fully satisfying reading experience


  7. says:

    What a mixed bag of a book this was and it could have been so much I’ve given the book three stars instead of two mainly because of the way the relationship is portrayed between Erica and the sister and brother on the sheep station Bail has really captured the awkward initial sizing up and working out of another’s personality what makes them who they are What I really had trouble with was the chapters on psychology and philosophy and the social commentary on Sydney as a city which I often didn’t agree with and I’m originally from Sydney I mean who’s viewpoint were they supposed to be from? Were they from Wesley sort of thinking aloud or were they from the author as narrator as philosopher I found the ambivalence annoying Despite all this and possibly because of it I enjoyed the challenging nature of his work and I’m definitely looking forward to reading Eucalyptus


  8. says:

    I'm sorry but this book just didn't cut it OK so Bail's prose is enigmatic and slippery but the premise here is contrived at best an academic is sent to a remote farm to read the writings of a little known hermit philosopher who has passed away What follows unsurprisingly is a thinly veiled philosophical indulgence with some eually thin characters Look I did uite enjoy his earlier Canowindra book even allowing for the unexpected Clare uilty like appearance of the suitor But The Pages has made me reconsider the premise of that book in a different way now too Sentus Libri 100 word reviews of overlooked books


  9. says:

    I have a beautiful hardcover edition not the same as the one pictured here with roughcut page edges and a eucalyptus bark coloured cover that made the experienceof reading it all the pleasurable Not knowing much about philosophy I found the fine nuances difficult to understand but it didn't really matter Just being taken on a journey through Australian countryside through the slow measured rhythm of Bail's prose was worth it


  10. says:

    So I've done it again I don't know why I do this Sometimes literary fiction appeals to me but most of the time it comes off as bland or just unremarkable Nothing about The Pages indicated to me that it would be any different and I was predictably unimpressed with it But I can't very well write a review that says More of the same I feel an obligation to provide a full explanation of my displeasure especially because at the time I'm writing this the other two poor reviews of this book both consist of single sentencesErica and Sophie are gal pals the former a philosophy and the latter a psychoanalyst When a recluse named Wesley Antill dies his surviving siblings invite someone from the University of Sydney's philosophy department to read over his epic philosophical tract and determine which bits are worth publishing Sophie tags along for the ride because she's got a hole in her schedule of having affairs with married men Instead of getting to work however upon arriving on the farm Erica does everything she can to avoid revealing Wesley's philosophy to us even as she stokes some sexual tension with Roger Antill Wesley's brother Oh and she was sleeping with Sophie's dadThere's a certain sense of majesty in the way Murray Bail describes both the setting and its characters I love his descriptions of Sydney in the second chapter the way he explains that it's a city that embraced psychoanalysis instead of philosophy as a result of how it grew from the forced immigration of convicts and other social misfits This descriptive uality stays constant throughout the book and testifies to Bail's abilities as a writer In fact Bail's ability to make Australia come alive for me not just as a setting but as an atmosphere almost makes this book a worthwhile readTravellers and strangers to all parts of Australia especially away from the coast can expect wonderful hospitality The coutnry has its faults as any country does but lack of hospitality is certainly not one of them Only when hospitality is little than an excessive informality when an entire nation breaks into premature smiling and all teeth small talk mode—which betrays an absence of philosophical foundations—does it appear as nothing than an awkward type of lightnessI could go on and uote of the opening to chapter 8 which establishes a character to Australian life even as Bail continues his thematic contrast of philosophy and psychoanalysis And to some extent Australia becomes a better realized character than either Erica or Sophie for we at least better understand it While Bail provides plenty of pithy descriptions of his other characters there's very little conflict to accompany these pictures and what conflict there is feels contrived and very confusingIt's a sneaky thing a novel without conflict Hard to accomplish of course because a story needs conflict but doable when you can distract with description and dialogue I didn't notice it until after I finished the book and began to think about how to write this review Then it struck me nothing happensAs with most damning statements this one is not entirely true More specifically what does happen feels unsubstantiated by the plot The only hint of conflict for our two main characters occurs toward the end of the book where Sophie storms into the shed full of Wesley's papers and accuses Erica of sleeping with Sophie's father Erica admits that she has been and Sophie intentionally or accidentally spills her coffee over a number of the pages of Wesley's tractI was taken aback—not over Erica's misdemeanour or the coffee spilling incident but because I didn't see this coming It was entirely unexpected because I had sense of the relationship between Erica and Sophie's father The only hint we got was when Sophie's father phones her only to ask to speak to Erica Maybe I'm dense but I don't always assume that if a father wants to speak to one of his daughter's friends he is sleeping with that friend Moreover we never meet Sophie's father or her evil step mother All we know of them comes from Sophie herself I feel like I'm missing an entire layer of story that would have made The Pages interestingThis conflict between Sophie and Erica never gets resolved Sophie ends up leaving taking Erica's car back to Sydney I realize that this is a trend in literary fiction this idea that life goes on after the story but now I have to ask what the point was of having Sophie discover Erica and her father's relationship How does it affect the story? Erica doesn't really seem to change much and I don't know what Sophie does because we don't hear from her after she leaves As beautifully established as these characters are neither of them has any developmentThe same goes for poor Wesley's philosophy Here I was shallowly expecting to actually learn about it before the end of the book I wasn't expecting some revolutionary secret to the meaning of life but I wanted to see something different Instead not only does Erica avoid Wesley's philosophy for the majority of the novel but we get a serious of disjointed statements at the very end of the book with very little moderation or interpretation So I'm left to interpret things for myself—always a dangerous task—and conclude that the moral of the story is that amateurs don't make good philosophersReally the entire exploration of philosophy and its juxtaposition with psychoanalysis is shallow and pretentious I can say this because I have examples of literary fiction that does exactly this and does it well Take for instance any novel by John Irving who demonstrates that a fascinating plot is not anathema to deep characters with psychological issues More appropriate even to our discussion would be the Deptford trilogy by Robertson Davies which draws heavily on Jungian psychology and features actual scenes of psychoanalysis in the later books Davies uses a full cast of characters to illustrate his themes on psychology and philosophy Bail's minimalist and tightly lyrical approach while artistically intriguing is not as successful nor as satisfactoryI can't in good conscience recommend it not when there are so many better executions of similar themes in the works of Irving Davies et al Yet you may decide otherwise I'm finding that the statement your mileage may vary while applicable to any matter of taste is doubly applicable to taste in works of literary fiction Judging from the blurbs on the back of this edition Bail has a strong following—and all the power to him I won't be joining that following however The Pages didn't strike any chords with me


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