Book Review: The Pages – Murray Bail

Title: The Pages
Author: Murray Bail
ISBN: 9781590513538
Pages: 208
Release Date: August 17, 2010
Publisher: Other Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Erica Hazlehurst is a philosopher working at a university in Sydney, when she gets a somewhat odd directive:  she is to go to a remote area of Australia, to a farm, where the collected papers of one Wesley Antill are stored.  She’s to see if they have any philosophical merit.  Erica brings along her friend Sophie, and they journey to the Antill family farm, where Wesley’s siblings still live.

Review:

The Pages is an interesting little novel that focuses on the meaning of philosophy.  What is philosophy, and what makes it?  How can you create a philosophy, much less go through someone else’s notes and try to reconstruct theirs?  It’s an interesting meditation, and Bail poses these questions very well.

The setting of The Pages is so relevant in the novel, it’s almost a character in and of itself.  Erica travels from the bustling hub of Sydney to the remote Antill farm.  It is starkly beautiful, but so different than what Erica is used to.  As a result, it’s almost a shock to her senses; she must adjust to life there before being able to fully understand Wesley’s work.  Bail writes about the landscape beautifully and tenderly, with such vivid language that it becomes a clear picture in the reader’s mind.

Erica’s character really begins to develop toward the end of the book, as she reads more and more of Wesley’s philosophy, as do the relationships between the four characters.  It’s a shame, then, that the novel is so short as it leaves the reader wanting more.  A longer more in depth work would have been welcome, yet its current length gives the novel a stark quality.  It’s hard to say that a longer novel would have been better, yet there is something unsatisfying about The Pages in its present state.

The Pages was an interesting and contemplative novel that I recommend to fans of literary fiction, especially if you are interested in the construction and mechanics of philosophy.  I’m eager to go back and read Bail’s previous novel, Eucalyptus, while I wait patiently for his next book!

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Comments

  1. I just re-discovered this novel in my house. I’ll have to make sure to read it sooner than later. I need some literary fiction.

  2. I just re-discovered this novel in my house. I’ll have to make sure to read it sooner than later. I need some literary fiction.

  3. While the character development sounds wonderful, it also sounds like the book was a little unsatisfying in a way. I hadn’t yet heard much about this book, but am familiar with the author’s name. I am going to have to do a little more research on this one, as I do find philosophy very interesting. Thanks for the insightful review!

  4. While the character development sounds wonderful, it also sounds like the book was a little unsatisfying in a way. I hadn’t yet heard much about this book, but am familiar with the author’s name. I am going to have to do a little more research on this one, as I do find philosophy very interesting. Thanks for the insightful review!

  5. I always enjoy reading Murray Bail but this one wasn’t satisfying for me either. I wanted more philosophy and less about the relationship between the two women. Do try Eucalyptus. I loved it.

  6. I always enjoy reading Murray Bail but this one wasn’t satisfying for me either. I wanted more philosophy and less about the relationship between the two women. Do try Eucalyptus. I loved it.

  7. This sounds good – just the thing for a rainy fall day.

    PB

  8. This sounds good – just the thing for a rainy fall day.

    PB

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