Malouf’s Ransom

Further thoughts on Malouf’s Ransom – – David’s impact on me


Reading Malouf’s version of the Iliad was pleasurable for me, as I knew the Iliad before and enjoyed the glimpse at rather human elements in the ancient, traditional world.
Furthermore I highly appreciated Malouf’s visit in our lecture. His explanations about his past and other influences for his writing fed my understanding of Ransom.


Parallels to other pieces of art
a. literature

Even in the most ordinary piece of writing, a newspaper article, I found some attempts to offer hope. An advertisement in the edition of the mx magazine on Wednesday 21th October explained a new way to luck and prosperity when facing failure (31). The requirements for success are “Decent, Honest Down-To-Earth Common Sense” as well as some uniqueness in your work (mx 31). Hence it is shown again that truth and humanity open up the horizon.

As I read 1984 by George Orwell during the semester, I remarked a sharp contrast between his negative utopia and Ransom. 1984 can be understood as caution for the readers to become more active and not to let suppression by society happen, whereas Ransom shows that pure activity signifies humans. Moreover, are the core values of truth and freedom (escaping from one’s role, Malouf 59) abolished in 1984. The word “free” simply diminished in its original meaning (Orwell 4), moreover did people become so obedient that they stopped questioning anything (Orwell 46).
But despite the dark world of Oceania, the protagonist Winston remarks “If there is hope […] it lays in the proles[1]” (Orwell 82). Hereby is 1984 highlighting that the power of the ordinary is able to evoke change.

In terms of this, Ransom can be seen as Malouf’s way back to the Occidental culture via the lane of literature in order to introduce revitalization of humankind.
Once identified Malouf’s intention with this novel, it is no longer surprising he has chosen the Iliad to embed it.

b. films
0GB090815D018CARO.JPGOh Brother, where art thou? on Youtube
The movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” shows the darkness in the life of three men after escaping from jail. In its core it refers to Homer’s Odyssey and the Bible. However, the film depicts a journey as clue to new hope and a happy life in the end.

Egypt 3D
This film has similar thoughts on death and its impact on life, as death can be considered as spawning impact for further (another) life.

My appreciating for Malouf’s skill of “Storytelling”

On the whole, the novel is of “healing quality” (MUP 18-19) as its fictive elements render insight into pleasurable and adventurous issues that are neglected by historians. Hence Malouf achieves art due to imagining events that are likely to have happened and write for the purpose of reading. Like Homer, Malouf depicts individuals on their “stormy passage through this world”[2] questing their true self (123-124).
However, as Ransom contains in its core a historic plot, the novel raises awareness for the fact that we can to learn from (hi)story. Moreover is this a core belief in Western culture (Merriman 25), as it can be traced back to the Romans’ belief in progress accompanied with peace and justice. Focussing on the capacity of Ransom and other pieces of writing to offer hope, I got the impression that is to be found in art and travelling. Whereas the first mainly implements to obtain initiation from the painter, writer or actor, does travelling[3] depict nature as stimulus to construct your meaning on your own.
Referring to 1984, there is no progress apperent as the party is eagerly concerned about rewriting the past in accordance to their intentions (Orwell 212), so that there is a stagnation and circle of events obvious (Orwell 212 ff).

Malouf’s skillful use of language spawns engagement with the life of a king in ancient times[4], as the historic context is taken into normal life. Consequently, the reader is enabled to leave the narrowness of his life and acquire new impressions due to reading. Due to this he is initiated to draw conclusions for his own presence.

This is especially supported by vivid/explaining and figurative language (e.g. Onomatopoesia pg. 196).
Furthermore does the choice of syntax and vocabulary indicate the mood of a particular situation. While long sentences carry along a frolic atmosphere or curiosity (Malouf 104-107), do short ones render an impression of dissatisfaction or fear (Malouf 8, 160). Likewise do adjectives and nouns offer a glimpse at the atmosphere (“chill”, Malouf 200).
Referring to the range of language used within the novel, it can be said that the form its content are coherent. Therefore the engagement with the text is facilitated.

Especially while reading Ransom I got a new acknowledgement of silence. I found it interesting that in literature, the world of words, silence is valuated higher than speech, which defined as prattle (Malouf 126, 135).

Further Resource:

Merriman, John Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present W. W. Norton (1996).

[1] Proles = in 1984 used to name common, working class people that are not part of the party


[3] Also to be seen in Henry Lawson’s writing: e.g. “Drifted back”

[4] (15.10.2009)

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