Poor John Monash has waited a long time. Before he died in 1931, he clearly hoped for a friendly posthumous biography. He destroyed his collection of erotica and some extramarital love letters. This was characteristically called ‘Emergency Action’. Less characteristically, he instructed his son-in-law and executor, Gershon Bennett, not to ‘preserve indefinitely’ the enormous collection of letters, diaries, cuttings, etc.... (read more)
According to the back cover: ‘This book explores the way common conversation matters … that during the last two hundred years we have been beguiled by reading and writing. Only during the last part of the twentieth century have we begun to remember the importance of speech as a source of truth in human affairs.’ It could also be noted that the seven essays collected here began as lectures, seminars or articles on such themes as the role of the monarchy in modern Australia (Prince Charles is judged a better speechmaker than his mum, therefore we have hope), the republican movement, the significance of Manning Clark and Henry Reynolds as influential Australian historians, the early nineteenth-century views of Edward Smith Hall and James Macarthur on the rights of Aboriginal people, and Raffaello Carboni’s account of the Eureka Stockade.... (read more)
This book is concerned essentially with the impact of the environment upon Europeans in Australia. It sets out to test C.E.W. Bean’s thesis that during the Great War the most effective Australian soldiers came from the bush. It does this in relation to men from Western Australia, arguing that the West was one of the most predominantly bush areas of Australia, and therefore that there, if anywhere, the influence of the bush should show up in the achievements of soldiers.... (read more)
Although the World Wide Web was begun in 1990, it didn’t really get going in a big way until 1994, with the First International World Wide Web conference held at CERN in Switzerland. That was less than a decade ago. And that should give us pause. Think how important the Web has become in those few years. Consider, too, what sort of computer you were using in 1994 and compare it to what you deploy now (assuming you’re not a holdout). No pause there. It’s been an ongoing vertical projection that is no doubt just the beginning of an enormous change that will affect almost every aspect of our lives. Of course, we’ve heard this technological refrain over and over (with various apocalyptic shadings), and we probably believe it to be true. Still, we’re not likely to get excited about it. We’ll deal with it when it comes. In many instances, it’s already here, but we haven’t fully noticed. In part we’ve simply accustomed ourselves to some of the demands of a ubiquitous silicon-based technology, and in part we’ve remained unaware of what’s headed our way in the form of a techno-savvy younger generation. We seldom see into the future because we usually look in the wrong direction: the future’s not ahead, it’s behind us, and it’s coming up fast.... (read more)
Unlike its parent, the Concise Macquarie has a regular commercial publisher, and we might suppose that it is a sensible commercial proposition. We might wonder if the reduction from the 77,000 headwords of the bigger dictionary to the over 41000 of this is worth saving the $12 difference in price: but nobody who read my review of the parent Macquarie is likely long to ponder this when he or she remembers that Collins cost’s $19.95.... (read more)
Despite the deadly title, this anthology of twenty-eight poems from the 2008 Newcastle Poetry Prize is replete with gems. Assembled from 423 entries by judges Jan Owen, Philip Salom, and Richard Tipping – effectively the anthology’s editors – it is a brilliant sampler that few anthologies can match for the legroom offered to the longer poem and poetry sequence.... (read more)
A grizzled, greying migrant, who was holidaying in Sicily after twenty years in Australia, attended a civic reception for participants in a seminar on Australian literature held in Piazza Armerina last January. His wife and three children were in Moonee Ponds. He was obviously pleased to speak with the Australians present as if they somehow confirmed his experience in a far-off land.... (read more)
God, the lonely father,
shuffles through the
corridors of heaven,
haunted by angels –
memories of desire,
the source of nostalgia.
- What type of truck?
- A fire truck.
The taper of a cup
sitting pretty in a circle –
Ideal climate for writing
Climate change poses undoubted challenges for science – and society – but what exactly does the phenomenon mean for Australian cultural life? The University of Melbourne’s inaugural Festival of Ideas, June 15–20, investigates the question, with a program featuring scientists, environmentalists, archi ...