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Thomas Keneally part two

In their own words

Recorded 1967

Thomas Keneally part two
Audio: 2 minutes

Most people, I sincerely believe, set out to write for one of these reasons: either to exorcise the demons of the past or, secondly, to adjust some sort of balance in their own lives, which is much the same sort of thing. I’m sure that sometimes it’s nearly as crude as wanting to express the past and wanting to exorcise it in combination with wanting to be recognised as a good expresser and exorcisor of the past.

I think the unlikely backgrounds that most novelists have is an indication of the possibility that they have taken to writing out of an attempt to adjust their own unsatisfactory lives, a sort of breaking new ground and adjusting to some almost indigestible break or disaster or failure in their past. Well to be frank, I know this is the reason I started writing, of course, to adjust a balance in my own life, to find a place, a voice in Australia. Since I began to get even the tiniest recognition as a writer, I felt I had a stake in Australia. For years after I left the seminary, until I did start to have work published, I felt an alien in the streets of Sydney. It’s a strange, brash city and it’s a bad city to be an alien in. It’s only since I’ve started to, in particular since I got a sense of responsibility towards writing and began to see what direction Bring Larks and Heroes was travelling in and began to see that I might be expressing something of importance for Australians, that I felt a big stake in Australia, a place amongst the Australian people.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Thomas Keneally is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

Related people

Thomas Keneally AO

Related information

Painting writing

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

Dr Sarah Engledow explores the portraits of writers held in the National Portrait Gallery's collection.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency