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    Bones, Helen 2015. ‘A book is a book, all the world over’: New Zealand and the Colonial Writing World 1890–1945. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 43, Issue. 5, p. 861.


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    The Cambridge History of Australian Literature
    • Online ISBN: 9781139056076
    • Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654
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The Cambridge History of Australian Literature is the most comprehensive volume ever written on Australia's national literature. This authoritative guide spans Australian literary history from colonial origins, encompassing indigenous and migrant literatures, as well as representations of Asia and the Pacific and the role of literary culture in modern Australian society. Bringing together a distinguished line-up of contributors, this volume explores each of the literary modes in an Australian context, including short story, poetry, children's literature, autobiography and fiction. This book is an essential reference for general readers and specialists alike.

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'… innovative approach … informative, highly stimulating … exciting revaluations of familiar works, authors and periods.'

Source: Zeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik

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Page 1 of 2


  • 1 - Britain’s Australia
    pp 7-33
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter seeks to discuss British literature, ideas and literary conventions in a way that underlines their pre-emptive importance for colonial Australian writing, while acknowledging the possibility of their reconstitution or reformation in local and colonial conditions, and also within international, imperial, or global contexts that bear upon the British-colonial connection. By the 1880s British immigrants, and visiting novelists, poets and journalists, had adopted and introduced urban 'presence' and preoccupations into Australian literature. John Stuart Mill, the principal advocate of liberalism and a modified utilitarianism, had taken a close interest in the Australian colonies since the early 1830s when he and his mentor Jeremy Bentham supported Edward Gibbon Wakefield's proposals for immigration. Thomas Carlyle's neologisms and quips show at once the nature of an invective as widely heard in the colonies as in Britain. John Ruskin, always inescapable within colonial literary culture, has become invisible to its historians. Charles Dickens was as popular and important in Australia as in Britain.
  • 2 - The beginnings of literature in colonial Australia
    pp 34-51
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter will trace the importation of books, the growth of libraries and literary societies, the beginnings of local publishing and the influence of educational institutions, including mechanics' institutes and universities. Clergymen and missionaries were active in early attempts to form lending libraries, since books of the right sort were seen as important for moral control and improvement. Book groups and literary societies had existed in Australia from at least the 1820s. Initially, at a time when books were still in short supply, their main function was to allow members to share book purchases by giving them access to a communal library. Although newspapers were regularly published in the eastern Australian colonies from 1803 onwards, it was to be another 18 years before the first magazine appeared in Sydney in 1821. Theatrical works were among the books carried to Australia on the First Fleet, as demonstrated by the 1789 convict production of Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer.
  • 3 - Early writings by Indigenous Australians
    pp 52-72
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    When the first boatloads of British settlers disembarked in Sydney Cove in early 1788, they carried the artefacts, implements and practices of late 18th-century literacy into Indigenous Australian life-worlds. Consequently, for Indigenous Australians, the arrival of the British in 1788 did not trigger a shift from Aboriginal orality to European literacy, but rather an entanglement between radically different reading and writing cultures. Colonial Australian poetry affords many fanciful, inauthentic samples of Aboriginal speech in English. One of the most significant sites of early Aboriginal writing was Coranderrk Reserve, established in 1863 north-east of Melbourne in Victoria. In Indigenous Australian societies, the most powerful spiritual and ceremonial knowledge has always been the responsibility of the older, fully initiated men, although women have their own important spheres of sacred knowledge and political influence. In colonial times, Aboriginal people developed their own cultures of writing.
  • 4 - Australian colonial poetry, 1788–1888: Claiming the future, restoring the past
    pp 73-92
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Early Australian literary poetry bears the indelible stamp of the highly cultivated amateur, and it presents us with a body of work as fascinating in its own way as the products of the first Australian painters. William Charles Wentworth's Australasia, published in London in 1823, is one of the most authoritative of the early poems with its robust epic vision and its patriotic assertion of the progress of British civilisation. Charles Harpur was one of the most underestimated of Australian 19th-century poets, and his work is still not adequately edited more than a century after his death. Henry Kendall, the most obviously lyrical of the major colonial poets, was a writer of exceptional facility and virtuosity. One of the manifestation of the sense of connection to Europe is the large body of translation that forms a staple ingredient of colonial poetic production.
  • 5 - No place for a book? Fiction in Australia to 1890
    pp 93-117
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    If the film The Proposition is anything to go by, 19th-century Australia was, at first glance, no place for a book. Peter Carey's Jack Maggs, like Sixty Lights, engages with Dickens' novel, placing the colonies in Australia at its centre and giving voice to characters that are routinely marginalised in realist English Victorian fiction. The greater part of Barton's Literature of New South Wales offers an oblique entry into an aspect of a historiography that would come to write 19th-century colonial Australia, with significant consequences for those Indigenous people in particular whose lives often did not leave the kinds of evidence it was trained to see and value. Romance fictions took on a particular role during the latter part of the century in Australia as a means by which to dramatise, negotiate and expose the entangling of white female desire with colonial and nationalist concerns. The terms by which scientific knowledge was produced were often attractive to fiction.
  • 6 - Romantic aftermaths
    pp 118-136
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Australia came into being at the end of a century of intellectual pessimism inaugurated by the counter-revolution we call Romanticism: a counter-revolution with which in substantial measure we are still coming to terms. It is a cliche of intellectual history that neither America nor Australia took a major part in the Romantic rejection of Enlightenment optimism. The pathos of pessimism, retrospect, and Romantic revenance creeps over reassuring signs of life, settlement, and industry. William Wordsworth is England's most prosaic poet, who has been the presiding genius of Australian Romanticism. As a significant part of rejection of Enlightenment rationalism, what Marcus Clarke called 'poetic fancy' is the ultimate form of Romantic expression, and in due course, naturally enough, Australian writers made use of it. Three Australian poets in particular have been seen in these terms: Charles Harpur, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall.
  • 7 - Australia’s Australia
    pp 137-155
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter focuses on assays made of Australia by novelists, painters, poets, art historians, polemicists, lexicographers among others. Numerous Australian writers after the end of the Great War sought to make discoveries in and about their own country. Tasmanian born Noel Norman published 13 novels in the 1930s, all with Wright & Brown in London. Several Australian authors experimented with other kinds of rural retreat between the wars. Katharine Susannah Prichard's months-long stay at Turee Creek Station in the Pilbara yielded the novel Coonardoo, the short story 'The Cooboo' and the play Brumby Innes. Saga fiction was a legitimising enterprise, in praise of European pioneers who settled vast and seemingly intractable stretches of land. One of the distinctive and best-selling kinds of prose works written in Australia in the inter-war years shifted back and forth across the unpatrolled boundary between fact and fiction. Some of the titles of books by William Hatfield indicate this constructive straying.
  • 8 - The short story, 1890s to 1950
    pp 156-179
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter focuses on individual short story writers and collections of their work from the 1890s to about 1950 in their literary, geographic and historical contexts. It also focuses on newspapers and periodical publications as well as books, and responses to them by readers and critics. From Jessie Couvreur (Tasma) and Rosa Praed to Katharine Susannah Prichard and Marjorie Barnard people can see the strength of writing by women in this genre. Lawson and Rudd may seem the dominant male names, but Vance Palmer, Hal Porter, Frank Dalby Davison, Alan Marshall and Peter Cowan indicate a surprising range of approaches and styles in short fiction by men. The short story as a consciously shaped literary form in 20th-century Australia has its roots in the 19th century and owes much to the often highly literate writers and publishers of newspapers and magazines. Legends of the 1890s attach themselves to the Bulletin.
  • 9 - Australian drama, 1850–1950
    pp 180-198
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Louis Esson is a particularly instructive case-study, for the definition of what an Australian play and an Australian playwright might be, for the preconceptions surrounding the idea of a national drama, the authentic and the imaginary. For a significant period in the early years of the 20th century, theatre and cinema generally shared venues, and quite compatibly. Australian plays were for too long encumbered with the primary responsibility for indulging the national self-consciousness. Australian drama between the world wars relied heavily for its survival on two very different theatrical outlets: one was the New Theatre movement, a resilient cultural organisation that emerged in the early 1930s from the Communist Party of Australia and other enclaves of the political left; the other was the essentially amateur repertory theatre that flourished improbably in all the capital cities, but had its most prominent incarnations in the Independent Theatre in Sydney, and in the Gregan McMahon company and later the Little Theatre in Melbourne.
  • 10 - ‘New words come tripping slowly’: Poetry, popular culture and modernity, 1890–1950
    pp 199-222
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    By the middle of the 20th century within the span of a single lifetime, newspapers rarely published poetry and, outside eisteddfods and the occasional radio program, its public performance was virtually extinct. Poetry had become a minority art form, increasingly the sole preserve of cultural elites who published and discussed it in little magazines, or studied it silently on the page in universities. The rapid expansion of cities following the Industrial Revolution had produced vigorous urban societies that hankered after new forms of information, entertainment and self-improvement. Yet the Victorian performance of poetry was less a folkloric remnant than another product of modernity; in this case, the widespread diffusion of elocutionary practices that infiltrated many forms of spoken expression, from the exercise of reading aloud to sermons and political oratory. The decline of poetry in everyday life can only partly be blamed on the transformation of the mass media in the early 20th century.
  • 11 - Australian fiction and the world republic of letters, 1890–1950
    pp 223-254
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Nettie Palmer and Christina Stead, in their different personal styles, literary tastes and careers in writing, personify two different ways of being an Australian writer in the 1930s, especially in their chosen relationships to what Pascale Casanova calls 'international literary space' or 'the world republic of letters'. Almost all the major Australian novelists of the first half of the 20th century, from Henry Handel Richardson through Katharine Susannah Prichard and Christina Stead to Patrick White, were published initially in London and New York, and then distributed in Australia. But the history of publishing and what has been called the 'new empiricism' in Australian studies have not always informed previous literary histories, which too often discuss Australian fiction without recognising its initial place of publication and reception, its material location in world literary space. By the end of the 1920s, it was apparent that big changes were taking place in Australian literature.
  • 12 - Australia’s England, 1880–1950
    pp 255-281
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Edward Garnett, the man of letters who also fostered the careers in England of Barbara Baynton and Vance Palmer, was helpful about having a word in the right ear. Representations of London have been mediated for so long by books, newspapers, magazines and, eventually, film and television, which the city, on a first inspection anyway, tends to be 'read' as a dictionary of quotations. It is impossible to exaggerate the sheer power of the English cultural hegemony, and especially so, perhaps, over the literary arts. From the mid-1890s onward there were nearly as many novels being published in Britain as there were books of every other type combined, and by the 1920s a quarter of Britain's entire exportation of books was shipped to Australia, and long continued to be so. Even in England, ambitious Australians soon discovered, few writers could prosper materially by adhering to the highest standards of 'art' literature then associated with modernism.
  • 13 - Australian children’s literature
    pp 282-302
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter focuses the history of Australian children's literature between two texts: the first Australian-published book for children, A Mother's Offering to Her Children, and Shaun Tan's The Arrival. Australian publishing for children developed from British publishing practices and literary models. The emergence of children's literature in Australia has a good deal in common with the trajectory of Canadian and New Zealand children's literature, where similarly a reliance on British books and literary precedents continued well into the 20th century, tracking the cultural shifts whereby former colonies established themselves as independent nations. The chapter also focuses on juvenile books produced by mainstream publishers in Britain and Australia. The readers comprised poetry, non-fiction and fiction drawn principally from British canonical sources. Despite their cultural and commercial significance, books for children in Australia receive attention in mainstream media.
  • 14 - Representations of Asia
    pp 303-322
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.016
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Henry Lawson's poem 'The Tracks that Lie by India', first published in the Bulletin, finds the poet planning to return home overland, via the Indian subcontinent, after a projected trip to London. Nineteenth-century Australian writers had trouble defining their countrymen and women as characters in Asia without explicit reference to their imperial identity. Dating back to concerns about the influx of Chinese during the gold rushes, both colonial policy and cultural debate in the final decades of the century were dominated by the spectre of the Yellow Peril, of hordes of Orientals overrunning capacious Australia. Australian fears of Asian invasion were both indistinguishable from and intimately related to associations of the East with unbridled lasciviousness. On assignment to report on the developing story of the Vietnamese 'boat people' washed up and incarcerated on Malaysia's shores, the Sydney journalist Judith Wilkes first sees her love interest, the Tamil academic Dr Kanan, moving amid 'an almost palpable cloud of violets'.
  • 15 - Autobiography
    pp 323-343
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.017
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Australian autobiography deals with spectral categories of identity that shift in and out of discursive focus: subjectivity, indigeneity, ethnicity, and nationhood. Indigenous autobiographical expression can only be found in fragmentary form: letters, petitions, court testimonies, and other forms solicited by the colonial powers. The uncanny operates in modern Australian autobiography in various ways. Education in Australian autobiography is generally figured as a crisis involving a parent or parents. Autobiographies of childhood are narratives of beginnings, and beginnings are important and volatile things for a settler nation, since they are inherently related to issues of identity and legitimacy. The rise of Indigenous autobiography and ethnic-minority autobiography occurred within the context of a critical project that sought to overturn the masculinist and nationalist readings of Australian autobiography. Egan's model of autobiography involves not only crisis and generic excess, but also mirror talk, the convergence of autobiography and biography.
  • 16 - Riding on the ‘uncurl’d clouds’: The intersections of history and fiction
    pp 344-359
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.018
  • View abstract
    Summary
    One of the more famous reviews, or infamous, depending where one would choose to stand in the ensuing debate, in Australian literary history was written by the journalist and popular historian M. H. Ellis about Volume One of Manning Clark's A History of Australia. A little less than half a century after the History was being either attacked or valued for having the lineaments of literary fiction, novelist Kate Grenville found it necessary to defend herself against the charge that her fiction was actually history. For historian and biographer Mark McKenna, The Secret River was also exemplary, of novelists 'parading' as authorities on aspects of Australian history. Henry Lawson's art was to work very close to documentary reality. The intersection of history and fiction was even clearer and more intricate in Joseph Furphy's Such is Life. In Xavier Herbert's novel, Capricornia history is enlisted in a new and stunning way.
  • 17 - Publishing, patronage and cultural politics: Institutional changes in the field of Australian literature from 1950
    pp 360-390
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.019
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The period from the end of World War II has seen at least three major transformations of the Australian literary field. In the 1950s, cultural institutions dedicated to Australian literature were still relatively underdeveloped, while publishing and bookselling operated within an established set of relationships with the British publishing industry. The terms literary 'field' and literary 'system' refer to the network of cultural institutions, industry structures, professional identities, public policies and social practices that determine how books get to readers and how readers get to books or to any other source of literature and literary talk. The kinds of consecrating institutions that could define Australian literature as something apart from the busy marketplace of books and magazines, as a tradition or a cultural project, were weak or non-existent. The literary-intellectual field was restructured in two overlapping phases from the mid-1950s: the cultural effects of Cold War politics; and from the late 1950s, a set of 'post-Cold War' attitudes.
  • 18 - Theatre from 1950
    pp 391-418
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.020
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The more serious sector of Australian society, inspired by the Irish and English repertoire movements, had since 1907 sought social and intellectual improvement by establishing an amateur theatre, peopled mostly by the professional and business classes, the Catholic Church and the universities. In 1959-60 the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Australia's first national drama school, was established by the infant University of New South Wales in tiny premises on campus. The first evidence of support was the federal government's move in 1967 to create a national funding body, to be called the Australian Council for the Arts. The decision came in response to the decline of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. The civil rights movement in the 1960s had awakened Aboriginal activists to the need for a public platform, and during the 1970s several explorations were made into the creation of a black theatre.
  • 19 - The short story since 1950
    pp 419-451
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.021
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In Australia, the period immediately after World War II focused on Australian patriotism, economic recovery, immigration, sport, family values and suburban expansion. In the last quarter of the 20th century a hitherto unequalled activity in the writing, publishing and reading of short stories resulted in the emergence of a new kind of fiction. The Australian short story seems to express an inexhaustible vitality. The variety of writing produced since 1950 suggests that the short story is both diagnostic and constitutive of trends in Australian literary creativity. Its history also shows an expanding awareness of a globalised literary imagination, with many of today's authors producing work for an international audience, continuing into the 21st century. There are paradoxical aspects to the freeing of the Australian short story from outback and regional concerns, and from nationalist ones.
  • 20 - Scribbling on the fringes: Post-1950 Australian poetry
    pp 452-472
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.022
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In a 1992 special issue on poetry of Australia's oldest literary journal, Southerly, the poet, editor and publisher Dane Thwaites writes, 'The great and glorious art of poetry has been in recession, maybe even depression, for a long time, a century or more'. The major poets who first came to significant notice roughly between 1950 and the early 1960s might be considered to be, in alphabetical order, Blight, Buckley, Campbell, Dawe, Dobson, Geoffrey Dutton, Harwood, Hope, McAuley, Elizabeth Riddell, Roland Robinson, Stow, Webb and Wright. Classifying poets who have long careers into decades caricatures, but it does provide a rough guide to the changing Zeitgeist. Hope, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was moved from radical socialist beginnings to Roman Catholicism and political and poetic conservatism. It would be foolish to pretend that the poets of the Hope-McAuley-Harwood generation have written bestsellers, but they are writers much respected within universities whose work is nevertheless approachable by a general intelligent audience.
  • 21 - Groups and mavericks
    pp 473-497
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.023
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter demonstrates the relationships between poets in Australia by locate themselves within groups and communities. Australian poetry after World War II has been strangely isolated from other poetries in English. The real Australian 20th-century modernists were all poets directly or indirectly associated with the Great War: Leon Gellert, Zora Cross and Lesbia Harford. The crisis of Australian modernism in poetry is sometimes said to be the Ern Malley hoax, perpetrated by James McAuley and Douglas Stewart. Few Australian poets have become well known outside Australia. Their regionalism is not only by default, due to the isolation of Australia but, it is implicit in the regionality of their poems. With the last two decades of her life dedicated to Indigenous rights, it seems appropriate to draw at least a thin line of connection to Judith Wright, in many ways the definitively 'white' poet.
  • 22 - The challenge of the novel: Australian fiction since 1950
    pp 498-516
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.024
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Modernism in Australian art emerged relatively late in the 20th century, but its critical attitude to modernity and its distrust of rational thinking is evident in many Australian novels written after the war. In 1956, television transmission was introduced to broadcast the Melbourne Olympics. At the end of the 1940s, Australian fiction was dominated by a group of left-leaning nationalists. Beneath all the debate about modernism in art lay the fundamental commitment to modernity of Australian society. European Australia was a product of Enlightenment thinking, an experiment in secular democracy. The late 1970s and 80s was an exciting period to be a reader of Australian fiction. By the 1980s the novel had established itself as a major source of intellectual commentary on Australia's changing culture, engaging in the major arguments about feminism, multiculturalism, the white relationship to Aborigines, the meaning of Australia's mixed history and its possible futures.
  • 23 - The novel, the implicated reader and Australian literary cultures, 1950–2008
    pp 517-548
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.025
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The origins of the novel and the settlement of Australia may both be located within the historical convergence of European industrialisation, colonisation and the Enlightenment in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The first 'Australian novel' was published anonymously in 1831, when the transported forger Henry Savery wrote Quintus Servinton: A Tale Founded upon Incidents of Real Occurrence. Embedded within the concept of Australian literature is a deeply held assumption that the Australian novel is closely associated with the experience of being Australian. The Miles Franklin Award, which would ultimately become Australia's most prestigious and sought-after literary prize, was inaugurated in 1957. Until this time, the only award of any national significance was the Australian Literature Society's Gold Medal for Australian Literature. In the 1950s and 60s, Arthur Upfield, Frank Clune and Jon Cleary became some of the few writers able to make a living writing novels.
  • 24 - Nation, literature, location
    pp 549-567
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521881654.026
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The shift in thinking about literature in Australia, in recent decades, away from an overriding and limiting concept of nation has coincided with a broader change in Australian cultural life. Nation' remains a fundamental constitution of modern human society and culture. This chapter focuses on the role played by place-consciousness in the constantly changing matrix of literature, nation and place. It argues that the remarkable florescence of regionally focused literary cultures in recent decades is not an unmotivated or ephemeral phenomenon. And what people might refer to as a critical regionalism is developing as an interactive response to this new regionalism and to the possibilities of contemporary knowledge, particularly in the sphere of language and literature. Despite the historical depth of its literary heritage and the richness of its contemporary writing culture, Tasmania has yet to develop a critical regionalism comparable to that of the west or the north.

Page 1 of 2


This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.


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