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Even if you re not interested in poetry, this is a gripping read The true story of how a young Adelaide cultural magazine editor Max Harris was duped into believing that the work of a totally fictitious, supposedly recently dead poet was of great literary value It reads almost like a detective novel, and descends into tragedy when the young editor then becomes the victim of a witch hunt, and dragged through the courts on charges of indecency A well researched, well written and well presented book.And if you are interested in poetry, it should be top of your reading list. this is really fun, but is it really reasonable that I should realise immediately that i am the black swan of trespass on alien waters is wrong because black swans in Aus aren t trespassing are native aren t there other plausible interpretations of this ie alien as in foreign so he s the Australian in Innsbruck quintessential Europe anyway, this and other questions about modern poetry, get it here Skim read this, really Has the material for a wonderful five minute anecdote, but not for 300 pages Or perhaps I just lack the stomach for undergraduate politics and the infighting of poets. The Ern Malley affair was a literary hoax that was a nine day wonder in wartime Australia Two Sydney poets opposed to the modernist movement in Australian poetry decided to spoof the editor of an Adelaide based journal Angry Penguins They succeeded and it became an opportunity for the Philistine element in the Australian media and public always a large circle to vent their hostility at avant gardism, Bohemianism and intellectual culture in general, culminating in a ludicrous trial in which the editor was found guilty of publishing indecency and fined but could actually have been literally flogged under the law as it stood then Heyward argues that the ramification of the hoax was that it destroyed avant garde experiments in Australian letters for a generation, leading to the long dominance of Australian poetry in particular by the reactionary anti modernists Hope and McAuley the latter being one of the hoaxers and the former being in on the whole thing I have known about the hoax since very soon after my arrival in Australia from some references in the introduction to the Penguin Book of Australian Verse, and various references since, so it was good to finally read a full account of the story The hoax consisted of a manuscript The Darkening Elliptic of modernist, stream of consciousness image poems by a dead young working class Australian Ernest Lalor Malley found by his sister among his possessions Max Harris and John Reed the editors of Angry Penguins, and the artists Sydney Nolan who drew lifelong inspiration for the poems, always maintained that the hoaxers wrote better than they knew and produced work of real merit Given that Ern Malley has been reprinted about half a dozen times since and into the 21st century maybe they were right. I ve read this book before but The Ern Malley Affair is such a complex and interesting story populated by the most impressive array of real life characters that reading it again is like reading it for the first time.The Ern Malley Affair chronicles the mid World War II literary battle between Australian writers exploring modernism and Australian writers convinced that modernism was a bunch of boo hockey In 1943, Max Harris, co editor of the Angry Penguins literary journal, received a number of poems from a woman named Ethel Malley She wrote in an accompanying letter that they were the work of her now dead brother and wondered if there was any literary merit in them Max Harris was bewildered and ecstatic, believing them to be the stuff of genius.Instead, they were the stuff of a hoax Written in a single afternoon by poets Harold Stewart and James McAuley to expose Harris as unable to recognise truly worthy poetry, the poems and the non existent poet nevertheless took on lives of their own.The story of Ern Malley and Max Harris, if portrayed as fiction, would be dismissed as requiring too much suspension of disbelief The fact that it is a true story makes it delicious, even as we wonder seventy years later how something that was intended to enable a moment of jumping up from behind a couch and shouting, Surprise has managed to maintain such a grip on the literary industry of an entire country.Probably because the poems, which were intended to be specimens of bad poetry display moments of evocative brilliance The black swan of trespass on alien waters It is necessary to understand That a poet may not exist, that his writings Are the incomplete circle and straight drop Of a question mark O far shore, target and shield that I now Desire beyond these terrestrial commitments I have split the infinitive Beyond is anything Good poets trying to write bad poetry might not be able to shed the influence of themselves as easily as they had hoped.The story itself deserves five stars but the writing of Michael Heyward is dense at times and sometimes requires momentary diversions to the dictionary In fact, sometimes his writing suffers from the same insensibility that some of the poetry of Ern Malley does, requiring the reader to ponder it much longer than would have been necessary had it been written simply.There are also a lot of tangents explored as the author seeks to develop a wider sense of the literary community, the diverse literary feelings and the broader societal expectations of the time It s a triumph, particularly when you consider how far Australia and the world has come in terms of literary exploration This hoax could not be perpetrated now and if it was, it would not receive anywhere near the same sort of attention as it did back then broadsheet newspapers covered it with as much fervour as the Pyjama Girl murder trial happening at the same time.This book won t be of any interest to anyone who doesn t care about or enjoy poetry It s very much for a niche audience But if you fall within that niche, you ll be fascinated by a story that enfolds John and Sunday Reed patrons of the arts at the time , the famous painters Sidney Nolan who deserted the army and changed his name for a time and Albert Tucker, and a huge cast of supporting players Special mention must go to Detective Vogelsang, who investigated Ern Malley under the obscene, immoral and indecent provisions of South Australian law at the time, and Magistrate Clarke who found some references to be indecent and thought it might be possible for certain plays by Shakespeare to be prosecuted under the same laws if anyone was so inclined.The book includes all the Ern Malley poems, so you can make up your own mind about whether they are any good or not I doubt any two people will come to precisely the same conclusion Which is an apt description of how literature has evolved It is a deeply personal thing and being asked to justify why you love a piece of poetry is like being asked to justify why you love your significant other Why one poem or one person speaks to someone is a great mystery of life.The events are also a cautionary tale for writers Because once they publish, they will forever be associated with their writing Harold Stewart and James McAuley were never able to shake their tags as the authors of the Ern Malley poems and they ended up resenting it Perhaps they would have faded into obscurity without Ern Malley Perhaps they would have gone on to develop reputations independent of him But they never got to find out.The Ern Malley Affair is a story that is greater than the sum of its parts and I have no doubt I will read it again because it made me think about manythings than simply poetry And if this review seems vague, it s not intentional, it s just that it s difficult book to do justice to within such few words. This is the book to read if you have a burning desire to learn about Australia s greatest literary hoax Not just who and how, but even why and where and when And then a little deeper still Perhaps a bit too deep into the surrealists and the poetic movements of the time for me But an enjoyable tale nonetheless. Ernest Lalor Malley was the modernist poet Australia desperately needed These were desperate times Australia was in a state of shift World War The Sequel was still raging across the boundaries of Europe and the Pacific Singapore had fallen to the Japanese the year before and the japs were expected on our beaches at any moment And what of Banjo Paterson, bush poet Australian legend Dead, two years previous when his heart gave out Modernism, a dire threat to the our arts was creeping silently onto our shores for a colony founded by crooks, thieves and murderers Australia was puritanical about literature and the arts and still is have a look at our history of banned books what American Pyscho is still banned in Queensland no great loss, I guess Copies of Ulysses were heavily thumbed and handed round discreetly, having to be read in privacy, under the table or in a different slip sleeve Modernist poets such as Auden, Cummings, and Eliot were gaining influence on Australia s poetry scene through literature journals like Angry Penguins Still, Australia s modernist poetry scene was flegdling, often criticized as confused gibberish.And then Malley came along He cut such a tragic romantic figure Dead aged 25 Of what Graves disease dreadful tragedy He wrote 15 poems across the last five years of his life They were complex and thoughtful, often difficult to glean meaning from Here s asimple bit from his Durer Innsbruck, 1945 poem Now I find that onceI have shrunkTo an interloper, robber of dead men s dream,I had read in books that art is not easyBut no one warned that the mind repeatsIn its ignorance the vision of others I am stillThe black swan of trespass on alien waters.Good, no Ethel, Ern s simple, unpoetic sister, found these poems on cleaning out his room after his death and not understanding their meaning or importance sent them to Max Harris, editor of Angry Penguins Harris, realizing he had gold in his hands immediately offered to publish the poems, complete, in a future issue of his magazine It was the publishing dream To find a dead poet what luck And too when the output was so rich, even perfectly flawed Australian poetry would be forever changed And it was.Turns out it was all a hoax Ern never was He was invented by two Sydney poets James McAuley and Harold Stewart With a disgust of modernist poetry they got drunk and wrote 15 poems in one afternoon by splicing together lines out of whatever books they had nearby They are the conscious product of two minds, intentionally interrupting each other s trains of free association, and altering and revising them after they are written down So they have not even a psychological value They intended to bring down Max Harris, undermine his critical ability and expose the modernist movement of what it really was nonsense.This book does an excellent job of covering all this while presenting the poems themselves to criticism It includes the ridiculous trial that resulted, wherein Harris was convicted of publishing immoral works If the poems were without meaning how could they be immoral Truth is, the poems are good Very good Have a read Definitely of better quality than the output of the two poets serious work In that way the hoax was a complete failure, following and marring the work of the two poets hereafter.But the hoax was also a success Australian publishing turned their back on the modernist movement and experimental literature It seems silly to blame the current state of Australian literature on Ern Malley though it seems obvious there has been an influence Australian literature must be seen to be Australian if it has a chance of winning awards Rarely is awarded Australian literature complex or difficult to read It must not challenge the reader It must romanticize the bush It must acknowledge the aboriginal people as having cultural and spiritual wisdom It must be heavily rooted in place It must not be modern or cosmopolitan There is only the occasional exceptionThe Ern Malley Affair is essential reading for anyone with an interest in modern Australian poetry literature. The Ern Malley Affair is an account of one of the most perplexing literary hoaxes in history In 1940s Australia, the self appointed leader of the literary avant garde was a young poet and editor named Max Harris Harris was a fervent and imaginative but rather derivative and somewhat incoherent writer, who justified his incoherence on the grounds of being influenced by surrealism His literary magazine Angry Penguins featured the work of himself and his friends, and also regularly carried the art of Sydney Nolan, who was part of Harris circle at the time.Harris was widely regarded as a charlatan, not just bytraditionally minded writers but also by members of the public there s a photo in this book of him suffering the indignity of being thrown into the Torrens River by a bunch of students Two Australian servicemen, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, decided to play a little trick on Harris and over the course of an afternoon or so, cooked up a bunch of fake avant garde poems and a fictional, young, dead poet, Ern Malley , and submitted them to Angry Penguins with a covering letter from the poet s sister , explaining about her late brother and how she didn t understand this newfangled poetry but she thought that Mr Harris might appreciate them.Harris swallowed the bait, and devoted the next issue of the magazine to publishing all of Malley s poems Almost as soon as he d decided to do so, doubts were being raised by some of Harris associated about whether or not Ern had really existed he seemed too good to be true The clincher was that the hoaxers, McAuley and Stewart, were not just two blokes having a laugh, but were themselves serious and talented poets who cannibalised some of their own work to confect Ern s The result is a body of poetry that s both brilliant and shoddy, and shoddy partly because it s so brilliant McAuley and Stewart were all about craft, but in knocking off the Ern Malley poems in such high spirits they infused them with a giddy energy that their own serious andhighly worked poetry tended to lack As the rumours began to spread, Harris began to suspect that he d been duped, and when the truth finally came out, he was held up to ridicule Bravely, he defended the poetry on its own grounds, saying it was better stuff than the poetry McAuley and Stewart wrote when they were really trying which was partly true But then the whole thing took a turn for the bizarre, when a stolid police detective named Vogelsang took it upon himself to prosecute Harris for obscenity The trial was a farce It effectively killed Harris as an avant gardist later in life he became quite the artistic conservative McAuley and Stewart felt a little remorse at how Harris got dragged over the coals McAuley himself retreated into a particularly harsh and anti modernist style of Catholicism, while Stewart a closeted gay man who never came out became preoccupied with Japanese culture, turned to Buddhism and published popular translations of haiku So the Ern Malley story is not just one of sensible blokes taking idiots down a peg or two, nor is it about philistines attacking culture McAuley, Stewart and Harris were men of integrity, even though they weren t always willing to recognise it in each other The story remains fascinating because Ern Malley sardonic, funny, pretentious, self critical, incoherent, menacing, but never, ever boring looms over all three of them The poems, flickering between genius and piss take, endure. This is a true story, and an amazing one The Ern Malley affair was a famous literary hoax in 1940s Australia without doubt, the greatest literary hoax of all time It began when Max Harris, young editor of the Adelaide based avant garde magazine Angry Penguins, received a package from a certain Ethel Malley, containing The Darkening Ecliptic, a manuscript of surrealistic poems by her brother Ern, a Melbourne garage mechanic, who had died recently at the age of twenty five Did Harris think they were any good Did he ever Harris at once pronounced Malley a genius, and a lavish special commemorative issue of Angry Penguins was devoted to Ern s poems Then the truth came out There was no Ern, and no Ethel either Ern s works of genius had been cobbled together in an afternoon by two traditionalist poets, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, in an attempt to discredit the avant garde Up to a point, they did Max Harris was certainly never the same again, especially after the South Australian authorities decided that the Malley poems were obscene and dragged the young publisher through a public trial The one time enfant terrible of the University of Adelaide ended his days not as the great novelist, poet, or even literary editor he had imagined he would be, but as a canting, boorish newspaper columnist, churning out opinion pieces for Rupert Murdoch Meanwhile, hoaxer in chief James McAuley, following his youthful jape, became an arch conservative, founding the right wing Australian journal Quadrant, while Stewart, ever theinteresting of the two, moved to Japan where he became a devotee of Zen and made collages Interviewed in later years, Stewart never wanted to talk about the Malley business, and said that his old life in Australia all seemed like a dream But the Malley story was far from over If Ern s fame as a great poet had been brief, his fame as a hoax kept on growing, and has not abated to this day The Malley poems confront us with crucial literary questions With Malley, we are by no means a world away from exquisite corpse poems, from The Waste Land that great modernist echo chamber of allusions , from the cut ups and fold ins of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, from the whole panoply of surrealist techniques When David Bowie glues together random strips of words to write his lyrics Serious moonlight, indeed as a friend of mine once exclaimed , he is very much in the tradition of Ern Are these techniques all to be condemned And how much, in the end, does authorial intention matter, as opposed to the words on the page There are lines in The Darkening Ecliptic that are betterhaunting,simply memorable than almost anything in real Australian poetry Rise from the wrist, o kestrel Mind, to a clear expanse My blood becomes a Damaged Man Most like your Albion from a poem addressed to William Blake Princess, you lived in Princess St., Where the urchins pick their nose in the sun With the left hand I have split the infinitive Beyond is anything Are the Malley poems just rubbish Or did the compilers of this hasty oeuvre, in mimicking surrealist techniques, inadvertently liberate a deeper world of meaning In any case, Ern took on a life of his own, and soon became a cult figure, the missing genius of Australian literature The artist Sidney Nolan painted his portrait.I ve often thought that the Malley affair is a classic Australian movie just waiting to be made The story formed the basis of Peter Carey s much fictionalised account, My Life as a Fake 2002 , but the Malley story is compelling enough without magic realist embellishments Michael Heyward s book includes the full text of Ern s legendary manuscript Almost sixty years later, the enigma remains As Ern put it, I am still The black swan of trespass on alien waters. `Download Book ⇭ The Ern Malley Affair ☜ In October , The Young And Successful Australian Literary Editor, Max Harris, Received A Package Of Poems By A Recently Deceased Poet, Ern Malley, Forwarded To Him By His Sister EthelConvinced He Had Hit Upon The Work Of A Modernist Genius, A Poet Of Whom Australia Could Be Proud, Harris Published Malley S Poems In His Magazine, Angry Penguins With Copies Despatched Around The World And Grand Claims Surrounding Publication, Harris Had No Idea Of The Events That Lay In Store The Consequences Of Which Would Haunt The Literary Landscape For GenerationsMichael Heyward S Compelling Account Of Perhaps The Most Famous Literary Hoax Of The Twentieth Century Reproduces In Their Entirety, The Seventeen Poems Published As The Darkening Ecliptic In The Magazine, Angry Penguins As Michael Heyward Explains In His Exceptional Book The Ern Malley Affair Dramatises, Luridly Than Any Other Literary Episode, The Question Which Is In The Minds Of The Audience Of Any Work Of Modern Art The Question Of Whether What They Re Being Invited To Admire Is, In Fact, In Some Sense, Fake John Lanchester, Guardian A Thoroughly Researched Narrative Of The Whole Saga Tells The Story Very Well Indeed, With Wit And Style Ian Hamilton, Times Literary Supplement