Xavier Herbert’s Capricornia and Poor Fellow My Country
Shillington House, $3.70 pb, 48 pp
John McLaren’s contribution to the new series titled ‘Essays in Australian Literature’ is, as the editorial page proclaims, ‘the ﬁrst extended study of the two major works by Xavier Herbert - his ﬁrst novel, Capricornia, and his last, Poor Fellow My Country. There has been a handful of articles concerning each of these books individually, and almost a whole chapter dealing with both novels in Healy’s recent work, Literature and the Aborigine in Australia. It is not only for its dual focus, however, that McLaren's study is long overdue, but also for its refusal to pigeon-hole Herbert’s writing in the manner typiﬁed by the title of Healy’s chapter, ‘Indignation and Ideology’.