Roberta Cimarosti

The Killer of Modern Times: Les Murray's Fredy Neptune

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Modernity; War; Pain.

This essay explores the reasons why Les Murray's five-book novel in verse "Fredy Neptune" may be considered a masterpiece of crime fiction for undermining the norms that traditionally codify that genre. The norms regulating especially the detective-story are here seen as epitomising the narcissistic principles that have predominantly shaped mainstream Western art and ideology since the dawn of modern times and strongly impacted upon the course of European history both within national and colonial territories. It is, in short, this entire Western episteme that Murray's novel questions through its 'misuse' of crime fiction, as its German-Australian protagonist gets involved in the two World Wars and becomes a German or a British spy depending on the war-line he happens to find himself. This essay first lays bare the critical framework through which I have looked at Murray's novel; then it points out the way it interweaves with Shakespeare's second Henriad but especially with Woolf's fiction opening a dialogue with these crucial texts of early and late modernity; to then conclude by trying to see what formal connections Fredy Neptune may finally have with the genre of crime fiction.

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