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My Brother Jack (A&R Classics)
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My Brother Jack (A&R Classics) (1964)

Serier: Meredith Trilogy (Book 1), A&R Classics

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
5291033,952 (4.04)23
The Miles Franklin award-winning classic. 'One of the greatest books written this century' - The Illustrated London News 'the thing I am trying to get at is what made Jack different from me. Different all through our lives, I mean, and in a special sense, not just older or nobler or braver or less clever.' David and Jack Meredith grow up in a patriotic suburban Melbourne household during the First World War, and go on to lead lives that could not be more different. through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece. David Meredith's story continues in the sequels Clean Straw for Nothing and A Cartload of Clay. 'Enthralling ... entertaining ... vividly original - the Age.… (mer)
Medlem:Colesa
Titel:My Brother Jack (A&R Classics)
Författare:
Info:HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

Verkdetaljer

My Brother Jack av George Johnston (1964)

Senast inlagd avArina42
Efterlämnade bibliotekRobert Gordon Menzies

Ingen/inga.

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Put this one on your must read Classics list.
This book is really a memoir of the author (David Meredith) who just happens to admire his older brother Jack as he is the total opposite of himself. It takes place in Melbourne Australia between the 2 wars. It starts with his parents returning from the 1st World War, when the 2 boys are very young. It gives us a fantastic insight into the impact the War had on peoples lives and how they dealt with it, and how Australian society developed from it, through the roaring twenties and the Depression and into the 2nd World War. Jack is the quintiseential Aussie like his parents and their cohorts while David is quiet, reserved and out of place in that working-class suburban Melbourne world. Yet it is David that grows up to fill a space in society far greater than most people can imagine for themselves while Jack, the lively one, the adaptable one, the one in tune with his environment, never grows out of that environment.

The greatness of this book is its sheer honesty, and the honesty of the author. It portrays an Australian society that is violent, racist and sexist to levels that are embarrassing to admit today. It shows how characters react to what is happening around them and from these pieces build their lives. In this environment characters can be both kind and caring and at the same time rough and self-centred. Jack seems to blend all these elements into a rather balanced personality, but David admits early in the book, he is not a nice person - by the end of the book you have to agree with him.

My Brother Jack is the first of a trilogy which basically is a memoir of the author's life. The other books are Clean Straw for Nothing, and, A Cartload of Clay. ( )
  motorbike | Feb 5, 2021 |
I've just re-read this book 50 years after studying it at school. Interestingly, the book remains compelling and has stood the test of time.
It is a harsh and raw self examination of the writers life. While many details are known to be factually inaccurate, the whole gives an impression of what life was like in Melbourne after WW1, and how Johnston lived his life. No picnic, it is still a great piece of writing. ( )
  mbmackay | Apr 5, 2019 |
Interesting. I'm glad I've read it, but I certainly have no desire to keep a copy on my shelves and re-read it later. Almost always described as an Australian Classic - it is unambiguously Australian, but I'm not sure what makes it a "classic"? I don't know enough literary history to place it in the context of other Australian books, but I'm guessing that it was among the earlier books to be unashamedly about the real lives of people who identify themselves as "Australian", and I suppose it was our involvement in the World Wars which was so important in shaping that identity. As such, I found it worthwhile to look back on what sort of society my parents and grandparents grew up in and how that might have made them into the people they were, and hence made me. My own personal family history is strongly linked to characters from this period and so it's good to get a different view on that part of our history. I found myself identifying quite closely with the narrator David, but the character of his brother Jack remains a complete mystery to me. I think maybe that's the point of the story?....to challenge the "Jack"s in our society?? Hmmmm...I think I'm out of my depth here, not being the analytical, intellectual type. ( )
  oldblack | Oct 8, 2012 |
The first book in a great trilogy and one which I really enjoyed...loved the TV series too. I think the others in the series were Clean Straw for Nothing and a Cartload of Hay.
Third in my list of ten favourite Australian books. ( )
1 rösta lesleynicol | Jun 22, 2012 |
The story begins at the closing of World War I and ends at the culmination of World War II. The years in between furnish the backdrop against which two Australian working-class brothers grow into adolescence, young manhood, and the early years of maturity that are marked by marriage, children, and ageing parents. Though masterfully drawn as authentic Australian characters in an authentic Australian landscape, Dave, Jack, their parents, and their wives are true to archetypes that exist in every human culture.
After a childhood of games, fights, and mischief, Jack wholeheartedly romps through his hormonally driven skirt-chasing phase, then leaps into adulthood, brashly taking on the mantle of manhood, which means patriotic service to his country, responsibility to his family, and creation of the next generation of human beings. Jack is Everyman.
Dave occupies a sort of middle-management fringe that nature can afford because Jack is tending his never-ending job so well. Dave is pushed from behind by civilization's need for progress and pulled forward by Jack, who needs him to be better than he is. Each of them is driven by eternal forces, Jack the man of action and Dave the man whose decisions are almost always non-decisions that move him inexorably forward without feeling responsibility for where he's been or where he's going.
The tale is told in the first person by Dave, with such incredible self-scrutiny and painful insight into the foibles and weaknesses of a clever, gifted writer that the reader feels compelled to accept it as a true autobiography. But it most likely isn't, at least not in its entirety. The gift of a novel is that the writer can tell the entire, bald truth and hide behind the fiction of it. A secondary benefit that feeds the novelist's creative soul is that events can be changed that didn't turn out right in real life or maybe seemed too mundane to be worthy of printed expression. Life is stranger than fiction, and fiction is more honest.
Johnston is a superb writer, and My Brother Jack is on my Top Ten List of Things That Make Me Glad I Trekked to Australia—right up there with the magpie's morning song, the stark white bark of giant gum trees, fine red-orange sand, the haunting sound of the didjeridoo, and the aura of people who have been here so long that they are inseparable from the earth.
On the back cover of my fragile, yellowing 1971 paperback copy is an excerpt from a review published in the London Illustrated News in which the reviewer concludes, "I truly believe this to be one of the greatest books written this century." Well said. (March 2008) ( )
  bookcrazed | Dec 6, 2011 |
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Fiction there is - and history. Certain critics of no little discernment have considered that fiction is history which might have taken place, and history fiction which has taken place. We are indeed forced to acknowledge that the novelist's art often compels belief. Just as reality sometimes defies it. Alas! There exists an order of minds so sceptical that they deny the possibility of any act as sooon as it diverges from the commonplace. It is not for them that I write.

André Gide
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For my own brother Jack ...
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My brother Jack does not come into the story straight away. Nobody ever does, of course, because a person doesn't begin to exist without parents and an environment and legendary tales told about ancestors and dark dusty vines growing over outhouses where remarkable insects might always drop out of hidden crevices.
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Probable explanation for George Johnston's fictionalised family name : From Garry Kinnane's George Johnston : A biography
(p178) : Since it was to be autobiographical, Johnston's first task was to find a way of placing himself in the picture. For this he needed an alter ego, and he searched about until he came up with a name out of his childhood - Meredith, after the little town near 'Uncle Whittle's' farm at Dereel, near Ballarat. ... He may have had a second reason for choosing the name, and that was its literary connection with the English novelist, whose first name also happened to be George.
Probable explanation for Charmian Clifts fictionalised family name : From Nadia Wheatley's The life and myth of Charmian Clift (p63) : It is surely no coincidence that the surname of Clift's fictionalised Morley family so closely mimicks Lawrence's autobiographical family, the Morels. In reading Sons and Lovers as a young woman, Charmian Clift must have been struck by the similarity between Lawrence's mother figure, Gertrude Morel, and her own mother ...
And for her forename (p150) : From the moment she appears on stage (first public appearance of Cressida Morley is in My Brother Jack), she is 'the girl with the green eyes'. Just as important as the colour is the way the eyes evoke images of water — initially marsh water (where cress would grow) or more significantly water 'as cool and deep and clear as the reef seas.
And from about 1962 (p422/3) : ... elements of the name in the forms of 'Chris' and 'Tressida' had been appearing in the author's fiction for a long time. It was now, however, that Clift chose to use this name with its wonderful literary ancestry : Homeric, Chaucerian, and Shakespearian. At the same time, the diminutive 'Cress' sounded fresh and green; like Miranda it also had watery connotations. ... 'I've always wished I was called "Cressida".
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The Miles Franklin award-winning classic. 'One of the greatest books written this century' - The Illustrated London News 'the thing I am trying to get at is what made Jack different from me. Different all through our lives, I mean, and in a special sense, not just older or nobler or braver or less clever.' David and Jack Meredith grow up in a patriotic suburban Melbourne household during the First World War, and go on to lead lives that could not be more different. through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece. David Meredith's story continues in the sequels Clean Straw for Nothing and A Cartload of Clay. 'Enthralling ... entertaining ... vividly original - the Age.

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