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The Scrivener: Through Darkling Glass - Prologue

Celebrated author and columnist Brian Barratt has adapted the famous story The Bottle Imp, first published in 1891, by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson.

Brian's adaptation, titled Through A Glass Darkly, will be serialised in Open Writing, a world coup for this Web magazine.

The story has been illustrated by internationally-renowned artist John Burge whose pictures were exhbited with those of Salvador Dali.

John's unforgettable pictures to accompany Through Darkling Glass are already displayed in the Open Writing Gallery.

Today we present a brief prologue to the story, along with word portraits of Brian and John.

The serialisation begins to unfold in next Friday's edition of Open Writing.


In the vast and awesome expanse of the Pacific Ocean lie the islands of Hawaii. On the eastern coast of one of these islands is an area known as Honaunau. The adventurer in this tale — or perhaps he was the victim — was born in a nearby village. We cannot reveal his true name, nor can we give the name of his real home. These must remain closely guarded secrets, even though the events took place well over a century ago. The reason for this secrecy will become apparent as his strange tale unfolds.

There are ancient and mysterious ruins of temples and vaults around Honaunau. Crumbling tombs and stone mounds were said to contain the bones of great kings and chiefs from bygone times. Their power was so great that they were not only revered after death but also feared as the Old Dead. One of these kings was named Hale-o-Keawe. This is the name we shall give to the man about whom this story is told — Keawe — for it was said that he was a descendant of the king...


The story continues next Friday.



Brian Barratt has had half a century of professional experience with books and Education. He’s been a bookseller, editor, publisher, author of schoolbooks, private tutor in English and thinking skills, class tutor in creative writing for adults, writing group leader in several schools, mentor to gifted students, judge of many writing competitions, and curriculum editor for Australian national Tournament of Minds... among other things.

He is a moderately/severely hearing handicapped elderly gentleman who explores the history and usage of the English language; writes whimsical articles; researches and writes about his ancestors, including many in the Book Trade during the past 300 years, and an elusive Gypsy; listens to recordings of Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, Kathleen Ferrier and other great voices from the past; relishes Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony and the music of the erhu; loves dictionaries; digs into the palaeopsychology of religious beliefs; rummages around in people’s minds; talks to dogs and birds, and to the possums that live in his shed.

Since 1936 he’s lived and worked in four countries, in this order: England, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Australia. He's lived in a leafy eastern suburb of Melbourne since 1971, next to where the rich people live. His house is actually a library-museum-art gallery-wizard's lair. There's a sign which reads 'Persons not wishing to see worlds outside or inside themselves are gently advised to close their minds whilst in this place'.

Do visit his Web site The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/



In 2008 John artist completed his first retrospective exhibition at the Victorian Artists Society in East Melbourne. It had been his first Melbourne show in thirty-six years and ranged from 1975 till the present. The nine panel ' Bluebeard's Castle ' - a free adaptation of Bela Bartok's 1918 opera - was seen for the first time in it's entirety.

He had previously exhibited in Melbourne in 1972 at the Warehouse Galleries in Richmond and, according to some, provided one of the most memorable and notorious openings of the time.

John then moved to Europe and lived for twelve years in the Catalan village of Ortedo, deep in the Spanish Pyrenees, exhibiting in Barcelona during the dying days of the Franco regime.

He later showed in Amsterdam and Munich, exhibiting with Dali, Vasarely, Magritte and Fontana before a critically acclaimed exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Alkmaar. Despite forthcoming contracted exhibitions, family circumstances meant a reluctant return to Australia.

Through the mid-eighties and nineties he moved into book illustration and became involved with art education in schools. Over the last four years John has returned to full-time art.

In May 2010, he exhibited a second, more complete showing of ' Bluebeard's Castle ' at the Kingston Arts Centre. It included previously unseen work and as a coda, 'The Don's Last Tale ', a large watercolour on the theme of ' Don Giovanni '. The exhibit was opened by Mr Rob Hudson MP, Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts and a short discourse on Bartok's opera was presented by Associate Professor Thomas Reiner, head of the Monash University Conservatorium of Music.

An exhibition of new and recent work was held from the 16th of June until the 4th of July, 2010 at the Jackman Gallery, 60 Inkerman Street, St.Kilda, VIC. 3182. The gallery continues to carry a wide and comprehensive selection of John's work.

Do visit John's Web site http://www.johnburgeart.com.au/


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