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This interview is taken from PN Review 124, Volume 25 Number 2, November - December 1998.

In Conversation with Steven Matthews Les Murray

This conversation took place in Oxford on 1 July 1998, the day of the publication in book form of Les Murray's verse novel Fredy Neptune.

STEVEN MATTHEWS: The novel is very much a parable of the first half of this century, following Fredy's life from his experiences in the First World War through the Second World War and beyond. How much do you feel that those events early in the century overshadow the latter part of it?

LES MURRAY: It's very much on our conscience that such tremendous slaughter should have been carried out. There are two major slaughters of the twentieth century which we admit and two which we still deny. The First World War is a slaughter which we admit and so is he Second World War including the holocaust. We don't yet fully admit, because our intellectuals have been Marxist, the immense slaughter in peacetime in Russia. Until we do, we won't be free of the first half of the twentieth century. There was a fundamental change came over the century in the West at the time of the atomic bomb, when people got convinced that the atomic and hydrogen bombs really would work. There was a stalemate which prevented any more war in the West. There was still one major bloodletting amongst human beings though, and that was the Maoist which went on behind closed doors in China. There were few people who knew about it, and those who ...


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