Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria


Shortlist year: 2018

Shortlist category: Poetry

Published by: Giramondo Publishing

Suffering from a fatal disease, Lucien Gracq travels to Paris to complete the epic poem he is writing. He joins a secret writers' society, le club des fugitifs, that guarantees to publish the work of its members anonymously, thus relieving them of the burdens of life and the disappointments of authorship. Gracq finds himself crossing paths with a parade of masters of identity, connoisseurs of eroticism and theorists of game. He flees from the deathly allure of the Fugitives—but it may be too late. Blindness and Rage throws down a challenge to the limits of the novel form.

About the author

 Brian Castro

Brian Castro

Brian Castro is the author of the prize-winning Australian classic Shanghai Dancing and recipient of the 2014 Patrick White Literary Award. His recent novels include The Garden Book and The Bath Fugues, both shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and Street to Street, loosely based on the life of the poet Christopher Brennan. He is Professor of creative writing at Adelaide University.

Judges’ comments

Blindness and Rage is a verse novel—composed of thirty-four cantos—notable for its mordant wit, its rich allusiveness and the invigorating fluency of its verse. Characterised by its author as a 'phantasmagoria', it describes the adventures of a terminally ill poet from Adelaide named Lucien Gracq, as he undertakes a final journey through the seamy underbelly of the literary world in the hope of realising his desire to complete his own epic poem. Blindness and Rage displays the formal inventiveness that has long been a feature of Brian Castro's work, but it is also an extremely funny book, packed with jokes and wordplay that wrings considerable delight from Gracq's gloomy outlook. Blindness and Rage is a wicked satire on pretension and futility, a poem about ambition and literary endeavour as paths to frustration and failure, but it is itself a poem that manages to avoid these pitfalls and achieve a brilliant success.