Dreamriser; Writing the Postcolonial body in Les Murray's Fredy Neptune

  • Sarah Corbett

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractThis thesis is presented in two parts. The first part, Dreamriser, is a verse-novel in two books, the second part a critical essay, 'Writing the Postcolonial Body' in Les Murray's 1997 verse-novel Fredy Neptune.Dreamriser is split into two books. In 'The Runner' Felix Morning wakes on a backstreet of a strange city with no memory of who he is. Flick shows him the way to The Bunker, an underground club where he meets the Dreamriser, a mysterious woman he half remembers. She gives him a parcel he must deliver to the place of the lost things. In 'Pinky' Iain and Esther meet on a train and they start a love affair. Damaged by her experience with men, Esther has been sent by the Dreamriser cult to take her revenge. When she falls in love with Iain she must make a choice between destruction and union.Dreamriser was inspired by the idea of the verse-novel, its possibilities and parameters. But where Fredy Neptune is an extended narrative through Twentieth Century history, Dreamriser messes with time frames and layers of reality and is located within the lost interior 'history' of the protagonists. I was interested in finding out how far I could push the lyric under the pressure of narrative, and play with the idea of linear narrative under the pressure of the lyric. I hoped to achieve a sense of the lyric poem across the whole structure of the 'verse-novel' as much as within each stanza, section or chapter. In this way Dreamriser mimics rather than attempts to emulate the conventional idea of the novel. Fredy Neptune moves towards and is constantly seeking that resolution and return to wholeness for its protagonist; Dreamriser refuses and actively undermines expectations of resolution and conclusion. Where Dreamriser and Fredy Neptune meet is in their treatment of the body as subject and material for the poem, in the location of the mind and the myriad layers of identity within the body, and in its consideration of gender and gender relations. In the following critical essay, 'Writing the Postcolonial Body in Les Murray's Fredy Neptune' I look at how Murray addresses postcolonial identity in Australia in his verse novel through the medium of the body. History, gender, national identity and the poem itself are embodied in the very act of writing and in the physical experience of reading the poem. I argue that Murray writes identity through the body in the poem of Fredy Neptune. 
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJohn Mcauliffe (Supervisor) & David Matthews (Supervisor)


  • verse-novel

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