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September 13th 2011 print

J.M. Coetzee

The Angry Genius of Les Murray

Just published in The New York Review of Books a major article by J.M. Coetzee on poet and Quadrant Literary Editor Les Murray.


Just published in The New York Review of Books, a major article by J.M. Coetzee on poet and Quadrant Literary Editor Les Murray.


The Angry Genius of Les Murray

J. M. Coetzee

Murray likes to present himself as an outsider to urban networks of cultural power. This is not an accurate picture. Murray is in fact a considerable intellectual and, until his midlife move back to his rural birthplace of Bunyah, NSW, was a substantial presence in the public arena.

A polyglot with a degree in German literature, he was employed for years by the Australian National University as a translator, with responsibility for all the Germanic and Romance languages.

As an essayist and anthologist he advanced a powerful if idiosyncratic reading of the Australian poetic tradition from its colonial beginnings. As editor of Poetry Australia and as poetry consultant to a major publisher he was also, to a degree, able to steer Australian poetry along the course he wanted it to take.

Murray is not a poet of the inner life. Instead he relies on an acute sensitivity to sensory impressions and an extraordinary capacity to articulate them.

Read “The Angry Genius of Les Murray” in the The New York Review of Books here…