Beverley Farmer 1941-2018 Archetypes and Fluency in This Water: Five Tales

Lyn Jacobs


Beverley Farmer: A Tribute
Archetypes and fluency in This Water: Five Tales

It is not unusual to encounter feminist re-readings of traditional stories, in the manner of speaking back via parodic challenges to gender stereotypes, but it is rare to find a writer re-dressing the skeletal bones of narrative to offer nuanced and sensual texts which subvert but also re-animate tales. And that is what is achieved in Beverley Farmer’s This Water:Five Tales (2017). After the contemplative essays of The Bone House (2005), with their stark black and white imagery and emphasis on dormancy and stone, Farmer returns to fiction where inherited stories are re-shaped to challenge the confines of precedent. This new publication includes a first-person story that illustrates the formative effects of word and image, reinterpretations of two Celtic tales, one Greek legend and a macabre European fairy-tale. Each story is discrete but they all reconsider masculist perceptions of women through the ages. This paper considers the re-framing and interrogation of the gendered designs of oral and folkloric traditions in This Water: Five Tales, focussing on ‘water’as a unifying theme and the fluency of Farmer’s poetic prose.


australian fiction, feminism,legends and myths,

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