Man and The Environment in An Imaginary Life

In David Malouf’s novel An Imaginary Life, one of the most prevalent influences on the characters’ lives is the particular environment in which they are placed. Malouf explores the issues of the interrelationship between man and his natural environment, and the impact that changes in environment have on human personality. Through the characterisation of Ovid and the Boy, the effects of setting and physical surroundings are fully explored, and consequently issues such as isolation, conformity to society and the development of culture, including education and language, are discussed.

The main character, Ovid, is a vivid example of how lives can be periodically changed according to ...

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based on interrelationship with the natural world, entering a into partly idealistic and imaginary existence, hence the title.

There are consistent parallels created through descriptions of Ovid’s political status. Due to his ostracism, he is separated both from outside elements of society and ideals that exist in his own mind. In the opening paragraphs, Ovid describes his natural surroundings and the characteristics of the landscape, and ends with the statement:

But I am describing a state of mind, no place.

I am in exile here.

This emphasises the relationship and influence between natural environment and human patterns of thinking, and how often perspectives on life are very dependent upon the state of the environment. This is again reflected in one of his later descriptions, which states:

It [the landscape] is a place of utter desolation, the beginning. I know it

like the inside of my head.

This bleak, pessimistic description is then contrasted ...

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must become.

This shows the link between the way human activity has affected and influenced the natural environment, and the way nature has the ability to educate man about many aspects of human existence. The environment is contrasted many times with the use of language. As the poet learns more and more about the new culture and speech, he compares it to the elements of the environment, stating that

This language is equally expressive, but what it presents is the raw life and

unity of things.

Ovid refers to a language that is united with its natural setting, where people are interlinked with cycles of nature and work with, not against it. As Ovid changes, he becomes ...

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Man and The Environment in An Imaginary Life. (2011, May 26). Retrieved March 25, 2019, from
"Man and The Environment in An Imaginary Life.", 26 May. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2019. <>
"Man and The Environment in An Imaginary Life." May 26, 2011. Accessed March 25, 2019.
"Man and The Environment in An Imaginary Life." May 26, 2011. Accessed March 25, 2019.
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Added: 5/26/2011 06:48:41 PM
Submitted By: Haleema01
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1974
Pages: 8

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