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The secret life of us : Eve Langley and her family

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Vines, HMM 2008 , 'The secret life of us : Eve Langley and her family', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Eve Langley (1904-1974) is an enigmatic figure who made her mark on Australian literature with the publication of The Pea Pickers (1942). As Eve destroyed the original journals and letters upon which The Pea Pickers-and subsequent fiction-was based, her two published and ten unpublished novels stand as the only existing account of her life up until 1942. Although all researchers have been mindful of the hazards of reading the fiction as autobiography, in the absence of an alternative account of her "self," the fiction has segued into her biography and her biography has leached into readings of her fiction. In this thesis the often contradictory material available about Eve Langley from primary and secondary sources has been meticulously examined from the perspective of the distanced investigator, in order to provide a fuller history of the Langley family, and to deal with the fiction from a new critical perspective. I adopt the role of literary detective to unravel the story of Eve and her texts, a task made more complex by the Langley family's pervasive culture of secrecy.
My first chapter is a biography of the Langley family that is constructed through reference to historically verifiable, publicly available documents, and excludes the fiction as a source of biographical evidence. This family biography provides a back-ground for the chapters that follow. In the second chapter I provide a reading of Eve's texts, focusing on the representation of family. The third chapter deals with June Langley's commentary on the family, using a variety of sources. June was Eve's muse, audience and subject and later, biographer; the relationship between the two sisters was intense, fraught and significant. Drawing on anecdotal and documentary evidence, in the fourth chapter I put forward an overtly speculative but, I believe, persuasive explanation for Eve's unusual life and writing.
This thesis untangles the web of misrepresentation that has surrounded the enigmatic Eve Langley. As a "literary detective," my initial goal was to create borders between the life and the writing. Having met this objective, the imperative to maintain the separation diminished: the gaps, silences, and obfuscations by both Eve and June became increasingly transparent, leading to a re-evaluation of the relationship between the fiction and the life. The blurring that has confronted all critics has been addressed through the meticulous review of available sources, which has provided a framework for reading the fiction and the life.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Vines, HMM
Keywords: Langley, Eve Maria, 1904-1974, Women authors, Autobiographical fiction, Australian, Authors,
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2008 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2008. Includes bibliographical references. Introduction -- Ch. 1. The Langleys: a family biography -- Ch. 2. Eve Langley's representation of family in her fiction -- Ch. 3. June Langley's representation of family -- Ch. 4. Speculating on the Eve Langley story -- Conclusion

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