A Season on Earth
A Season on Earth

A Season on Earth

by Gerald Murnane

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What he had been searching for was not the perfect religious order but the perfect landscape…From that moment on he was a poet in search of his ideal landscape.

Lost to the world for more than four decades, A Season on Earth is the essential link between two acknowledged masterpieces by Gerald Murnane: the lyrical account of boyhood in his debut novel, Tamarisk Row, and the revolutionary prose of The Plains.

A Season on Earth is Murnane’s second novel as it was intended to be, bringing together all of its four sections—the first two of which were published as A Lifetime on Clouds in 1976 and the last two of which have never been in print.

A hilarious tale of a lustful teenager in 1950s Melbourne, A Lifetime on Clouds has been considered an outlier in Murnane’s fiction. That is because, as Murnane writes in his foreword, it is ‘only half a book and Adrian Sherd only half a character’.

Here, at last, is sixteen-year-old Adrian’s journey in full, from fantasies about orgies with American film stars and idealised visions of suburban marital bliss to his struggles as a Catholic novice, and finally a burgeoning sense of the boundless imaginative possibilities to be found in literature and landscapes.

Adrian Sherd is one of the great comic creations in Australian writing, and A Season on Earth is a revelatory portrait of the artist as a young man.

‘Gerald Murnane seems to be winning the wider regard his devotees have always known he deserved…A Season on Earth is more like other novels, or more like a novel, than the fictions to come, but Murnane is already determined to make his own forms…[It is] not simply an idiosyncratic take on the Australian Catholic upbringing, but a portrait of an artist as a young man, in which one false vocation has to die so that a true vocation can take its place.’ Age

A Season on Earth recalls us to the truth that Murnane’s avant-gardism emerges out of a resolutely conventional soul…Now that [the novel’s] excised half has been returned, we’re granted a fuller sense of Murnane’s original aims…The comedy here is no less wicked in deployment, but the edge is sharpened…Ludicrous and hectic as [Adrian] Sherd’s casting around for some stable sense of self may be, there is something moving in the efforts he makes…We see an artist inventing himself from scratch…[By the end] Sherd has not yet pinpointed those regions his mature art would explore. What he has learned is that they lie somewhere in the inland empire of his imagination.’ Monthly

‘Murnane’s early writing, as shown here, is accessible and often humorous in his own dry way…A Season on Earth could be recommended as an ideal jumping-off point for readers new to Murnane and his particular way of looking at the world.’ Books + Publishing

‘Reading Murnane, one cares less about what is happening in the story and more about what one is thinking about as one reads. The effect of his writing is to induce images in the reader’s own mind, and to hold the reader inside a world in which the reader is at every turn encouraged to turn his or her attention to those fast flocking images.’ New York Times

‘Murnane is quite simply one of the finest writers we have produced.’ Peter Craven

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781925774160
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 1,025,943
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Gerald Murnane was born in Melbourne in 1939. He has been a primary teacher, an editor and a university lecturer. His debut novel, Tamarisk Row (1974), was followed by ten other works of fiction, including The Plains and most recently Border Districts. In 1999 Murnane won the Patrick White Award and in 2009 he won the Melbourne Prize for Literature. He lives in western Victoria.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

‘“A bizarre masterpiece that can feel less like something you’ve read than something you’ve dreamed.”—Ben Lerner, New Yorker

“Strange and wonderful.”— New York Times on The Plains

”Murnane, a genius, is a worthy heir to Beckett.”—Teju Cole on The Plains

“Murnane touches on foibles and philosophy, plays with the makings of a fable or allegory, and all the while toys with tone, moving easily from earnest to deadpan to lightly ironic…Provocative, delightful, diverting.”— Kirkus (starred) on The Plains

"Murnane, in his unfailingly serious way, is very funny ... we read and think about him ruminating on his reading and thinking about reading and thinking until the book rather gloriously threatens to swallow itself whole."― Harper's Magazine on Border Districts

"Devotees of Murnane ( The Plains ), the exacting Australian writer of crafty, austere fictions, will find familiar themes in this prismatic work: the fascination with color, the grassy landscapes, and the obsessive compiling of a mind’s 'image-history.’"― Publishers Weekly on Stream System

"An old man ruminates on landscapes and houses, authors and religion, colored glass and memory in this drifting quasi-fiction. The unnamed narrator, age 72, has recently moved from a city to live alone in a 'quiet township' near an unspecified border in an unnamed country. In the opening pages, he recalls his school days and the religious brothers who taught him."― Kirkus [starred] on Stream System

"One of Australia’s most important writers."― Publishers Weekly [starred] on Stream System

“An exploration of the mind and of literary creation, it is a book of intricate construction and vast intellectual scope.”— New York Times on A Million Windows

“An extraordinary and consistently compelling read from beginning to end.”— Midwest Book Review on A Million Windows

“Murnane is a master of breathing life into fiction, and his compilation of ideas on the subject holds immense value because those ideas are often so idiosyncratic and contrarian.”— Publishers Weekly on A Million Windows

“Compels the reader to question the relationship between fiction and reality, the visible and invisible world”— World Literature Today on A Million Windows

“[Murnane's] emotional conviction . . . is so intense, the somber lyricism so moving, the intelligence behind the chiseled sentences so undeniable, that we suspend all disbelief.”—J.M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books on A Million Windows

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