Beyond is Anything

Posted by on Jun 24, 2012 in Malley | Comments Off on Beyond is Anything

The book Beyond is Anything by David Malley purports to tell the story of a “real” Ern Malley – although Malley was not his real surname – who had a “real” sister Ethel, and who with his “real” wife Lois had a son David who perhaps wrote the book.  The story goes that Ern grew up with Jim McAuley and that the poems published in Angry Penguins were actually written by Ern, who left them with Lois during the war asking her to give them to McAuley to get published.    The rest, as they say, is history.

The poems were originally called Total Eclipse and the hoaxers changed this to Darkening Ecliptic as well as making a few other changes.  The son David almost drowned during the war, leading Ern to write a poem Aquis Submersus – a copy in Ern’s hand appears in the book.

In 2009 I co-curated the exhibition Ern Malley : the Hoax and Beyond at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne.  Some months after it finished I received a copy of Beyond is Anything in the mail with a letter from David Malley explaining that this was not his real name and that this art of his was perhaps a lie.  The letter mimics the first letter Ethel Malley sent to Max Harris. It also invited publication.  At the time I decided to do nothing further because I was interested to see whether circulation of this book (a copy is in the National Library of Australia where it is available in the Petherick Reading Room) would raise any interest – given my growing belief at the time that the Ern Malley saga was finally running out of steam.

Martin Edmond, who himself has written of a real life Ern, posted his reaction on his Luca Antara blog.  Then late in 2010 I sent details to Cordite poetry ezine whose 34th issue was to be a reprise of the verse of the Children of Malley.  In the 18 months since, this is the sum total of response, feeding my suspicion that the heady days of the hoax are indeed gone – that notwithstanding David Brooks’ scholarly Sons of Clovis last year, and the very recent Ern Malley sonnets in Vivian Smith’s Here, There, and Elsewhere.

So I have now decided to take David Malley at his word, if that is the correct expression given his acknowledged falsehoods, and I have scanned the book.

Here it is.