Writing Country: Lightning, Agony, and Vertigo

Brian Castro


This keynote addresses the topic of "style" in Australian letters. It speculates that "Australian style" is very much a product of a melancholic personality, and that being "unhoused" is the modern condition of a writer's formation. The paper also goes on to explore how biography and autobiography are imaginatively interwoven to produce the uncanny in narrative; a puzzlement about the real which makes it difficult to live without writing. Proposing that there are three stages in the composition of a novel: lightning, agony and vertigo, it is suggested that there is an overlay of this pattern upon the trajectory of a writer's career, from early disturbances, through production of work, to late style.


Barry Andrews; fiction; late style; multiculturalism; migration; diaspora; Australian literature;

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