Thursday, 27 April 2006

Helen Speaks

Just a quick note to remind myself to listen to Radio National at 1pm on Saturday, when Helen Dale (aka Demidenko aka Darville) will speak about "what personal insight she...gained from [the] life-changing experience" of being the "woman at the centre of one of Australia's biggest literary hoax scandals."

She's being interviewed on All in the Mind, which seems entirely appropriate.


David said...

I heard a snippet of this as a preview at the end of Life Matters this morning. It does sound like she is still complaining that none of Demidenko was her fault. Admittedly I did not hear what preceded this. But it will ensure that I listen with prejudice.

Ron said...

Despite having read 10,000,000 words or so on Darville, I still don't see what using a pseudonym, nor taking on some weird identity to see her through the day, has do with her writing a NOVEL (n. 1. A fictional prose narrative of considerable length, typically having a plot that is unfolded by the actions, speech, and thoughts of the characters).

She didn't win the Miles, nor the other awards, for a book of history. Many writers of fiction tend not to be very nice people and it does not, and should not, distract from their works.

mark bahnisch said...

From my experience as a UQ undergraduate with Helen (variously Darville, Hidveghy and Demidenko in those years), I can say at the very least that she's an entertaining speaker. Though perhaps not always intentionally.

Lucy Tartan said...

That's a lot of words, Ron!

Just the novel itself alone (as far as it can be extricated from all the rest of it, which isn't perhaps very far) is not very good as a novel, and in my opinion, a disgraceful abdication of the responsibilities of historical fiction to the past. I agree it's not a book of history, but that doesn't give it a free pass and complete licence to malform and misrepresent the ongoing presence of the past in modern life and culture.

The rest of it - about her family background and so forth - I regard as an unfortunate but telling supplement, like you I don't think it ought to have had such a strong bearing on the way the book was interpreted. In many ways it was a distraction from the book, and the book was bad enough on its own - the media really went in for the kill against her, and given that she seems to have had some psychological problems, the abuse of media power against her was even more disgraceful. (The plagiarism stuff is an example of that - there was one bit that was a close match in the way that sometimes happens to unlucky writers with absorbent minds, but the rest was *so* not plagiarism. It suited the press to paint her as a total demon by that stage, however, and it turned into a witchhunt.)

I hope she's managed to put it behind her.

Ron said...

The number of words were - ahem - a *slight* exaggeration but it feels as though it was that amount!

Lucy Tartan said...

I bet that number of words is pretty close to what's been written about her!

Ron -- you might enjoy doing this meme on Australian literature. I'd love to read your responses.

R H said...

She was a fraud, similar to a woman who later used the same sort of con to flog paintings supposedly done by herself as an aborigine - which she was not!

Being ethnic or indigenous gets you extra marks straight away.


Miss Laura, Great Expectations is on tonight, 12:30, ABC. It's from David Lean so should be good. You'd better watch it.
And then Camberwell Sunday market - where I learned all my good manners - is featured on The Collectors tomorrow night, 8pm ABC. Watch that too. Then at 8:30 Richmond play Carlton, Channel Nine.
Good heavens. Well I don't follow footy much, not since it became one huge advertisemnt for pies and political correctness, but I'm always sentimental about Richmond.

So come on the tigers (said with utmost elegance and refinement). Yes, and come on SAVERS! You little gem!
I just wish I lived right next door!


PS: I wish you'd invited me to go to Sydney with you.
But that's okay. Maybe next time.


PPS: I'll conclude Hamlet.
-Just because you think I can't.



Lucy Tartan said...

RH, 12.30 is well past my bedtime, but I've seen Great Expectations, and liked it. So thank you. We went to Sydney to visit a relative who has cancer, I don't think you'd have enjoyed it.

I await the last installment(s?) of Hamlet with much impatience. (and if you haven't cast Osric yet, I don't mind waving a sword about, as long as I don't have too many lines to learn.)

R H said...


The rest is silence.

David said...

I found the interview pretty disappointing. Mainly because Darville made so many rash and ridiculous claims in her period of notoriety, and she made some pretty big claims here (most importantly perhaps that she took on the Demidenko persona to shield a former SS man she knew, without any questions put to her about why this might or might not have been a good idea)and she was not really challenged by her interviewer. Also, though she was asked in the interview whether Dale was her married name, her reply was indistinct. I assumed it was a made-up name because it takes the first two and last two letters from her original name and I am still none the wiser. And so on. Her claim to have been dyslexic at school and having been cured of it in a matter of months is a miracle worthy of study.

elsewhere said...

Still haven't gotten round to listening to the interview, but I've never gotten over the fact that various Aust lit worthies believed she whom she said she was after her displays of Ukrainian folk-dancing in costume in public...i mean, obviously a whacker!