Raimond finds a community in a place where his parents find neither happiness together nor a sense of belonging.
As the story progresses, his openness becomes a touching counterpoint to his mother Christine’s depression and the distances that come with it.
He had discovered again the ‘delicate beauty’ of central Victoria, and the ways in which his father and those close to him were illuminated by it: ‘I hoped that the events and the characters of the story I told would be bathed in the light and colours of that landscape.’ The result is that Gaita’s memory of the landscape forms part of the memoir’s structure and themes, and helps to shape the often troubling connections that are formed between beauty, madness, and suffering.
Gaita has referred to Romulus, My Father as a ‘tragic poem’.
She finds life at the farmhouse terribly alienating: ‘A dead red gum stood only a hundred metres from the house and became for my mother a symbol of her desolation.’ is not principally a migration story, but the family’s move to Australia and the reaction to the landscape are important for both the events that follow and Gaita’s subsequent memories of them.
As a student, Gaita went to the University of Leeds, where he undertook his doctorate in philosophy. As he explains in After Romulus (2011), a book of essays about the memoir, during those years in England he became accustomed to the more ‘humanised landscapes’ of Europe, and indeed came close to understand how his mother had once seen Australia.After first being housed separately, they eventually made a home together at ‘Frogmore’, a modest farmhouse six kilometres from Baringhup, a village of some ten houses, a school and church, and a hotel.This experience of upheaval and change forms the opening context of the memoir, and portrays a first encounter with Australia that was shared by thousands of postwar migrants.Crucial to the performance of a eulogy is a conviction that understanding the life of an individual helps to illuminate common human experiences and feelings.Thus, the first step in understanding this work is to listen for the voice of a man who is farewelling his father, and in that sense the voice of a child who is articulating, for others, what he has lost.The first is the book’s genesis as a eulogy, the second its expression of Gaita’s return, both physically and imaginatively, to the central Victorian countryside of his youth.The third, and perhaps most distinctive, is the narrator’s unusual position as a philosopher writing about his father in a way that reveals his father’s influence on his beliefs and ways of thinking.s Gaita mentions in an acknowledgments section at the start of the book, Romulus, My Father first developed from his eulogy at his father’s funeral in 1996.One of the origin points of the form lies with a Christian tradition of recording a pilgrim’s journey, so that others may benefit from the knowledge that the pilgrim acquired along the way.Many memoirs aim to make sense of the past in a way that may be useful to others, and to offer their accounts in a way that is true not just to what the author remembers, but also how he or she remembers.n a critical moment of reflection and pause, Romulus, My Father offers the reader a key to its interpretation.The author – philosopher Raimond Gaita – tells us that ‘Plato said that those who love and seek wisdom are clinging in recollection to things they once saw’.