Dear David Malouf,
I have just studied your work, “The Year of the Foxes” and I am in awe of your writing style. The way that your work flows is just phenomenal as the pace of the poem is easy to understand. The thing that I found most interesting about your poem “The Year of the Foxes” is how it can be interpreted in two different ways, either as a child’s perspective or your perspective of it as an adult back on a childhood memory. As you discuss that during the second world war, the behavior of these women doesn’t seem almost appropriate as in 1944 most Australians were unable to have such glamour such as fox furs. I believe in your work that the women have to be upper class and that they have become extremely self-centered and oblivious to the war as they only care about their image to others as you state in your poem “elbow the rare spoils of ’44; old foxes, rusty red like dried-up wounds, and a GI escort.”; this meaning that the women are only interested in their public image and that they are become materialistic.
One thing I would like to say, is that are the women meant to be portrayed as foxes as I do know that with the fox’s hunting behavior is that they parade their food once they have captured it, now does this mean that the women are doing this with the fur themselves, priding themselves in being able to have this luxury. Therefore, is this meant to be ironic or just symbolic? And earlier with the quote “rusty red like dried-up wounds” does this refer to the women being so self-centered that they are ready to fight off one another to become the best socialite?
Following along the lines of what I have been discussing above, discuss any of the poems/ prose pieces that we have been looking at this week in terms of how they might be maintaining “the frame and order of the world”?
Over the last few weeks of Australian Literature, we have explored many of 19th century works up to the mid 20th century with authors such as Mary Gilmore, Judith Wright, John Shaw Neilson and others. In particular, in my opinion, Mary Gilmore and John Shaw Neilson have shown in-depth knowledge in regarding the Australian landscape and culture, discussing the order and lifestyle of their world.
Mary Gilmore’s pieces I believe show a unique perspective of women in the 20th century. With her work “Eve Song”, Gilmore discusses the issue of how the way women were stereotyped, treated and portrayed in the early 20th century. The perspective of the lady in the poem highlights the discrimination towards women as they were only perceived as wife and/or mother. Also with Judith Wright’s poem “Eve to Her Daughter”, the theme of women being only portrayed as birth givers particularly in the 8th stanza as she states “you are submissive, following Adam even beyond existence.”. This showing the order of Australian society in the early 20th century but this was the time when art and literature had started to discuss the importance of gender equality; this I believe was the catalyst for change in Australian culture as this was a way to inform and challenge the traditional perspectives of all. Although women’s rights and perceptions didn’t change dramatically throughout the 20th century, I still believe that authors such as Gilmore and Judith Wright were the catalyst for future change.
On the other hand, John Shaw Neilson poetry discusses the spiritual connection of self to the landscape. In the poem, “The Orange Tree”, Neilson portrays two different perspectives of how an individual perceives the landscape as the girl and the man argue about the orange tree. I believe that this is symbolic of the contracting views of the Indigenous Australian’s perspective and the white society’s. Neilson does highlight the lack of understanding through the man’s persona and the frustration of the girl hinting the annoyance of the Indigenous Australians of the white society being so materialistic. This poem does show the way of Australian society and this speaks out that there needs to be a higher level of tolerance and understanding for the Indigenous’ way of life. Even though this was written in the mid 20th century, it is still very relevant to Australian society today.
These authors, in my opinion so far into this subject, do show the lifestyle and order of Australian society in present day though their texts were written much earlier on. And from their works, audience can gain understanding of underlying issues that do occur in Australia.