(see link at end):THE greatest literary hoax of the twentieth century was concocted by a couple of Australian soldiers at their desks in the offices of the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, land headquarters of the Australian army, on a quiet Saturday in October 1943. The uniformed noncombatants, Lieutenant James McAuley and Corporal Harold Stewart, were a pair of Sydney poets with a shared animus toward modern poetry in general and a particular hatred of the surrealist stuff championed by Adelaide wunderkind Max Harris, the twenty-two-year-old editor of Angry Penguins, a well-heeled journal devoted to the spread of modernism down under.Read More:http://jacketmagazine.com/17/ern-dl.html
Dürer: Innsbruck, 1495
I had often, cowled in the slumberous heavy air,
Closed my inanimate lids to find it real,
As I knew it would be, the colourful spires
And painted roofs, the high snows glimpsed at the back,
All reversed in the quiet reflecting waters —
Not knowing then that Dürer perceived it too.
Now I find that once more I have shrunk
To an interloper, robber of dead men’s dream,
I had read in books that art is not easy
But no one warned that the mind repeats
In its ignorance the vision of others. I am still
the black swan of trespass on alien waters.
A few days later, a fat envelope arrived containing fourteen more poems under the general title, The Darkening Ecliptic. In her accompanying letter, Ethel Malley outlined the short and rather bleak life of rhe late Ernest Lalor Malley- ex-schoolboy, ex-garage mechanic,ex-insurance salesman, ex-watch repairman, loner, and bachelor- who had died tragically the previous winter, aged twenty-five, of graves’ disease. This ought to have given away the hoax, for Graves’ disease is an old fashioned name for exophtalmic goiter, which is rarely fatal but which renders the victim grotesquely popeyed.
“Malley’s cow,” moreover, is Australian slang for a person who disappears, vanishes, leaving no clue to his whereabouts. Harris read the poems and showed them to his colleagues, first to the emerging painter Sidney Nolan, and then to two other editors. Each, as he read, began to share Harris’s excitement, for Ern Malley’s voice was unmistakably his own, and his vision was powerfully fresh and arresting, as in:
I have been bitter with you, my brother,
Remembering that saying of Lenin when the shadow
Was already on his face: “The emotions are not skilled workers.”
Yet we are as the double almond concealed in one shell.
I have mistrusted your apodictic strength
Saying always: Yet why did you not finish Hyperion?
or in the opening l
of the poem called Culture as Exhibit:
“Swamps, marshes, borrow-pits and other
Areas of stagnant water serve
As breeding-grounds …” Now
Have I found you, my Anopheles!
(There is a meaning for the circumspect)
Come, we will dance sedate quadrilles,
A pallid polka or a yelping shimmy
Over these sunken sodden breeding-grounds!…( to be continued)
(see link at end)…In a new book, The Sons of Clovis: Ern Malley, Adore´ Floupette and a Secret History of Australian Poetry, Brooks claims the hoax had a French precedent well known to McAuley and Stewart.
In 1885, two ”young conservative French poets”, Gabriel Vicaire and Henri Beauclair, intending to take the mickey out of modern Symboliste poetry, invented a fictitious third poet, Adore Floupette, and wrote 18 poems under the title Les Deliquescences.
Brooks tracked down the one local copy of Les Deliquescences in the Australian National University’s Menzies Library. It had belonged to a former Sydney University lecturer, Christopher Brennan. ”I contend McAuley would have read the book while completing his MA on the Symbolistes in 1940 and therefore been quite aware of the Floupette hoax,” Brooks said.
He also uncovered another beguiling clue.
The first of 18 poems in the French parody described a painting of the sons of a seventh century Frankish king of Burgundy whose mother had cut their tendons for rebelling against their father. French artist Evariste Vital Luminais painted two works called The Sons of Clovis : one stayed in France, the other was purchased by the Art Gallery of NSW in 1886.
”As young bohemians around town, the poets must have spent an afternoon or two at the gallery. Its not hard to imagine McAuley’s joy when he noticed the French poem was about a painting so familiar to him,” Brooks said.
A world at war looked to the past for comfort and was unfriendly to artistic experiment. With William Dobell’s 1943 Archibald Prize winning portrait of Joshua Smith traduced as caricature, Harris’s takedown by McAuley and Stewart was like shooting fish in a barrel.
McAuley converted to Catholicism, became a passionate anti-communist, co-founded Quadrant magazine with CIA money and taught English in Tasmania.
Stewart’s poetry never found a market. He worked in a Melbourne bookshop before self-imposed exile in Japan, all the while struggling to stay in the closet.
Harris owned the Mary Martin bookshops and achieved a sort of fame as a public intellectual.
They are all dead.
But Ern Malley, the man they created, lives.