Fabulating Beauty: Perspectives on the Fiction of Peter Carey

By Andreas Gaile | Go to book overview

A Wildly Distorted Account?
Peter Carey's 30 Days in Sydney

ANTHONY J. HASSALL

We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes
us realise the truth, at least the truth that is given us to
understand. The artist must know the manner whereby
to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.1

I wanted the idea that there was a true story and that
the writer would finally not tell the true story.2


Lying Like the Truth?

IN THE SECOND PARAGRAPH OF ILLYWHACKER Peter Carey's narrator warns the reader: “I am a terrible liar and I have always been a liar. I say that early to set things straight. Caveat emptor.”3 In thus “setting things straight,” Herbert Badgery confronts his readers with the Liar Paradox: it is impossible to determine whether he is lying or telling the truth when he says he is a liar, hence to know what veracity, if any, to attribute to his narration. The warning also suggests that, despite the postmodern distrust of such concepts, he believes that his stories may be either true or false.4

1Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views, ed. Dore Ashton (London: Thames & Hud-
son, 1972): 21.

2 Ramona Koval, “The Unexamined Life: Peter Carey Interviewed,” Meanjin 56.3–
4 (1997): 671.

3 Peter Carey, Illywhacker (St Lucia: U of Queensland P, 1985): 10.

4 For a more detailed discussion of this narratorial strategy, see Anthony J. Hassall,
Dancing on Hot Macadam: Peter Carey's Fiction (St Lucia: U of Queensland P, 3rd

-319-

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