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Grounded Visionary

The Mystic Fictions of Gerald Murnane

Brendan McNamee

Grounded Visionary: The Mystic Fictions of Gerald Murnane is a reading of Australian writer Gerald Murnane’s fiction in the light of what is known as the Perennial Philosophy, a philosophical tradition that positions itself as the mystical foundation of all the world’s religions and spiritual systems. The essential tenet of that philosophy is that at a fundamental level all of life is a unity—consciousness and world are the same thing—and that it is possible, if extremely difficult, for the discriminating individual mind to experience this wholeness. Murnane’s work can be seen not to take its lead from writings in this philosophical tradition but rather to resonate with many of them through Murnane’s unique artistic expression of his experience of the world. The crux of the argument is that beneath their yearnings for landscapes and love, Murnane’s narrators and chief characters are all in search of the essential unity that the Perennial Philosophy postulates.

Taking its cue from Murnane’s self-description as a "technical writer," this book examines each of the author’s works in detail to reveal how structures and themes are seamlessly woven together to create artworks that shimmer with mystery while at the same time remaining thoroughly grounded in the actual.

Grounded Visionary is the first full-length study of Gerald Murnane’s work to tackle head-on his underlying mystical sensibility and is also the first to deal comprehensively with the author’s complete fictional output from Tamarisk Row to Border Districts. This book will be of interest to all lovers of modern literature and will be of special interest to students of Australian literature and those concerned with the interface between art and spirituality.

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