ern and uncle jim
Peter Carey is one of my favourite authors, and I’m obviously going to have to read his latest book: it’s based on the Ern Malley hoax, which my Great Uncle Jim was one of the instigators of. Uncle Jim wrote rather traditional poetry, you know, it rhymed and made sense, and he and a mate decided to reveal modernism as a load of nonsense by writing the complete works of the late “Ern Malley” on a Saturday afternoon and getting “Ern’s”
widow sister to send them to a modernist poetry journal. The journal most gratifyingly printed them, declaring Ern a modernist genius, and it took months before the hoax was revealed. Of course the editor argued that “well, it was written by great poets so was great poetry even if meant as ridicule” while Uncle Jim and his mate claimed the entire works of Ern (or perhaps only a line or two) were copied out of a textbook on mosquitos and their habitats. Or something.
Obviously, Uncle Jim didn’t quite succeed in his noble fight against modernism. And I’m a bit worried about how he (or rather, the character inspired by Uncle Jim and his mate) is going to be portrayed in this book, too: “An arrogant young Australian poet named Christopher Chubb decides to teach his country a lesson about pretension and authenticity.” (amazon) Perhaps my concerns about truth and such are genetically determined.