The compelling Mr Glaskin, a work in progress

Carolyn van Langenberg

Pub Talk

Thursdays at the Fremantle Hotel, corner Cliff & High Streets
Presentations start 6.30pm sharp.

5 September 2002


The late G. M. Glaskin (1923-2000), was an Australian writer published in the UK most successfully in the fifties and sixties. Many of his titles were republished and translated into several European languages. Some received mild success in USA, but in Australia both sales and critical acknowledgment have been insignificant. Did this situation arise because he was published by a London publisher? Or were his novels, even those set in Australia, written by a detribalised intelligence, placing an Australian male protagonist in plots that twisted round a concern with relationships, abjuring themes self-consciously exploring national identity? In his novels, he did not repeat the dominant literary theme that Australians are a white tribe abandoned on a desert island surrounded on three sides by vast oceans and, to the north, the indescribable masses of the Other. Did Glaskin's sexual identity, the parochialism of the Australian literary scene that overlooked the West Australian as a maverick, or the fact that he had to make a living (during the sixties and seventies, the income he earned as a writer looks respectable) persuade his writing to travel along the borderless milieu of urbanity?

This paper as its title suggests is a working paper written by his biographer who is searching for him among those of his papers stored at Murdoch University Library under the auspices of GALAWA. The papers themselves have a story to tell, travelling from his various overseas' addresses to the Battye Library in Perth, only to be compelled to suffer more journeys from library to library as Glaskin contested the efficacy of librarianship. There are as many detours to his story as there are ways into his story. The biographer must choose. Which one should I follow?

(I acknowledge that the Glaskin Biography project is funded by a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council.)

Bio-data :
Carolyn van Langenberg holds a Doctorate in Communication & Media from the University of Western Sydney, Nepean. Her novel, fish lips (Indra Publishing, 2001), the first in a trilogy set in both Australia and Malaysia from the forties to the beginning of the twenty-first century, is about angles on love and history. The second, the teetotaller's wake, will be released soon.

Pub Talk | 2002

New: 16 August, 2002 | Now: 7 May, 2015