Sheer perversity : Peter Mathers and David Ireland

McLaren, John (1978) Sheer perversity : Peter Mathers and David Ireland. In: The dream and the reality. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)


Contains the tenth chapter of The Dream and the Reality, an unpublished literary work by John McLaren on the study of the realist tradition in Australian fiction. The purpose of McLaren’s study is to explore the attitude of Australians to their country which has always been ambiguous and show how some Australian fiction writers reacted to this particular experience and environment, how they have treated the dream and how they have dealt with reality. In this chapter McLaren reviews the literary works of Peter Mathers and David Ireland, the two writers who share an utterly bleak view of human possibilities, but whose work contains a comic energy which seems to contradict the futility of the world they depict. In the work of both writers the hopes of the characters portrayed and the expectations of the readers are constantly disappointed by the sheer perversity of things and of people. Both writers show a world where everything is possible and nothing is likely. In Ireland's work, things dominate, and human beings merely struggle to find a tiny area of freedom where they can briefly be themselves. In Mathers' work, people are thwarted by the randomness of events, the perversity of other people, or the stubbornness of physical facts. The machine works too well, the victim is decapitated, and the hero finds himself made a scapegoat. In both writers, however, this capriciousness of fate is combated by an endurance of the human spirit, which appears both in the central characters and in the exuberant ingenuity of the writing itself.

Additional Information

Date is approximate. The tenth chapter of The Dream and the Reality covers pages 417-448. Table of contents of The Dream and the Reality is available at

Item type Book Section
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Current > Collections > McLaren Papers
Keywords Australian literature, literary realism, fiction, novels, MCLAREN-BOXB15-DOC9
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login