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RRP: GBP£ 9.95
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ISBN: 978 1 857544 33 6
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 1999
215 x 138 x 19 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Hardback
In the old Turkish port of Trabzon, early in World War I, a German-Australian sailor by the name of Fred Boettcher witnesses the incineration of defenceless Armenian women by a crazed mob. Unable to intervene, his helplessness becomes physically manifest: he loses his sense of touch. This condition, which he conceals like a curse, is also something of a gift: it gives him great strength and immunity from pain. But it isolates him, too, especially from physical love.
In the five books of this ambitious novel, Fredy witnesses the tragedies and triumphs of the twentieth century. In the end it is the individual as a social and spiritual being who triumphs. Fredy Neptune has the global scope and heroic dimensions of Byron's Don Juan and a human abundance all its own. Life takes Fredy home, in search of his father and his mother, then across the globe to America where he survives the Wall Street Crash, travels as a hobo to Hollywood, acts in the movies, then leaves America in dramatic circumstances in an airship. In Germany he works for Zeppelins as the Nazis consolidate their power, rescues a mentally handicapped youth from the racial hygiene laws, and contrives his return to rural Australia, where his life revives through love: his world of feeling is restored.
Awards won by Les Murray Short-listed, 2015 T. S. Eliot Prize (Waiting for the Past ) Long-listed, 1994 for the Oxford Chair of Poetry. Winner, 1996 T.S. Eliot Prize for the best collection. (Subhuman Redneck Poems) Winner, 1999 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Praise for Les Murray 'Very occasionally you come across something on the page which makes you think ''you can't do any better than this.'' Perfection achieved.'
BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review 'Waiting for the Past is a brilliant collection by a brilliant poet.'
Anthony Domestico, Commonweal Magazine 'Les Murray's Taller When Prone shows a poetic master nimbly and lyrically at work. Now seventy-two, Murray writes with the bigness of soul of a person twice his age. This collection adds another chuckie to the cairn of a remarkable personal achievement. A Nobel Prize for that man, please.'
Robert Crawford, TLS Books Of The Year 2010
'There is no poetry in the English language now so rooted in its sacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate and conversational.'
Derek Walcott, The New Republic '...the true spokesman of the whole nation, the custodian of its soul... the most accomplished poet in Australia today, and among the half dozen most successful poets in the English language...'
Peter Porter 'Les Murray is writing poetry with a lyric grandeur and verbal resourcefulness that are reassuring.'
Mark Strand 'Les Murray is a major Australian poet of our time, full stop.'
Douglas Dunn 'It is wonderfully disciplined writing, offering what poetry and nothing else can offer, an art that arrests one's otherwise ever frustrated sense of the richness of the life that lives only for the moment.'
C.K.Stead, London Review of Books 'Critics speak of him as one of the finest poets writing in English today, one of the superleague which includes Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott and Joseph Brodsky.'
Blake Morrison, Independent on Sunday
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