Just City and the Mirrors: Meanjin Quarterly and the intellectual front, 1940–1965
Oxford University Press, 314 pp, $25 hb
For thirty-four years Clem Christesen endured financial stringency, public apathy, political vilification, academic indifference, and institutional hostility in order to provide in the literary journal Meanjin a mirror that would provide for his fellow Australians the image of the just city.
In her history of this endeavour, Lynne Strahan duly honours those who collaborated with Christesen in his self-appointed task and records the dismal tale of those who actively sought to destroy him or who merely, with the virtuous arrogance of the righteous, found good reasons for doing nothing when vigorous action was needed. But the book, quite properly, has one hero, Christesen himself, and one villain, the University of Melbourne.