Like Manning Clark, Blainey sees history as a story of progress in which Western civilisation develops from a kind of primal baseline. But the dynamic force which drives events in Blainey’s history is more tangible-more material-than in Clark’s. As Blainey himself explains, he regards technology and economics as being far more important agents of change than politics. He locates the origins of modem industrial culture in the Middle East, at that moment when hunter-gatherers first settled in villages and began systematic farming. This neolithic revolution, says Blainey, was more significant to human development than the beginning of the industrial revolution: ‘It led to the collection of taxes, the rise of powerful rulers and priests, to the creation of armies larger than any previously known.’ As this revolution gradually spread into Europe, America and Asia, new societies ‘blossomed and bloomed’ because an increasing proportion of their populations was freed from food production to pursue other activities. They were free to write, think, scheme and invent things.
Randolph Stow’s latest novel, The Suburbs of Hell, may be read as a simple whodunit: a simple allegorical Whodunit. Like Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, like David Lodge’s Small World, this novel sets out to intrigue the reader. The new genre, nouvelle critique, teases the reader’s vanity, the reader’s erudition at the same time as it engages with questions of a metaphysical kind – the nature of truth, reality, and for those concerned with literature – the purpose of writing today.
Words and Images is a valuable contribution to the rapidly growing body of work on Australian film culture and a welcome addition to the relatively small collection of volumes dealing with the film-literature connection. As McFarlane notes there is not, as yet, a ‘definitive work’ on the art of adaptation, though George Bluestone’s Novels into Film (1957) established a fairly solid base for others working in this area. McFarlane’s acknowledged indebtedness to Bluestone is most evident in the method he adopts in order to examine individual adaptations. Essentially it is one of determining and exploring changes to texts, that is, the major alterations and manipulations which take place in the process of adapting a narrative from one medium to another.
‘I wrote this book to show what dogs can do’, writes Archimedes the red setter in the preface to his book, and what follows are the experiences, observations, and reflections of a dog both ordinary and extraordinary. Archimedes’ physical life is constrained by his ‘employment’ with the Guests, an average Sydney suburban family – father, mother, and three children. He is taken for walks – the dog laws make unaccompanied walks too dangerous, he leaves his ‘messages’ in appropriate places, he knows the electricity poles intimately, and the dogs in his territory, Lazy Bill, Princess, Old Sorrowful Eyes, and Victor the bulldog.