Million Windows by Gerald Murnane is coming out of the late charge that started with “Barley Patch” in 2009. It takes its title and epigraph from Henry James’ preface to The Portrait of a Lady, where James speaks of ‘the posted presence of the watcher’ at each of the house of fiction’s million windows.
Murnane’s novel materially appropriates James’s concept the narrator resides with many other authors in one wing of an enormous mansion that he refers to as the ‘House of Fiction’, where they write, share stories, reflect on the practice of writing and take part in elaborate rituals based on James’s own fiction.
What the author glimpses through the windows of the house of fiction comprises the novel’s subject, while the shape of the window itself the pierced aperture, either broad or balconied or slit-like and low-browed is i literary form.
Million Windows by Gerald Murnane
The book is a novel that is cobbled together from various references and quotations, but its allusions always move in at least two directions at once. They send the reader outside the text to works by other authors, while also recalling Murnane’s own body of work.
A Million Windows opening section for example, goes on to describe the author behind the holland blind writing down a remembered version of a quotation written by a male person from an earlier century’ whose name he can not recall which reads. All our troubles arise from our being unwilling to keep to our room.
In both texts, “Murnane” argues for a concept of authorship that is deeply indebted to the literary critic and rhetorician” Wayne C”. Booth, who argued that the actual human who produces literary works is ‘immeasurably complex and largely unknown, even to those who are most intimate.