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Sceptical Sociology is really a set of essays, some of them previously published, by the Reader in Sociology at La Trobe University. It contains a long introductory piece which gives the book its title, a concluding confession, and a number of vignettes which Carroll calls ‘stories’. The book as a whole is a display of the perversity of brilliance.

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Don’t judge Donald Horne’s books by their titles.

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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. ... (read more)
Turn The Shock of the New over and on the back cover Robert Hughes stands in a mirrored room, looking out at the spectator, infinitely reflected in a light filled glass box that looks like one of Portman’s new hotels. The choice of photograph is a key to Hughes and the pages within, for in the text, Hughes describes this Mirrored Room by Lucas Samaras as: ... (read more)

Patrick White by Brian Kiernan

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April 1981, no. 29

Despite the title of the parent program, the aims of the Commonwealth Writers Series are not small. These paperback editions propose:



… a panoptic survey of a writer’s work, assessing its significance and merits, and conveying the critic’s enjoyment of the writer concerned, within a total length of between 96 and 176 pages. Each book will have a Survey chapter, placing the major works and events in the author’s life and times.

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Gary Catalano’s book, which I admire greatly, is a readjustment. His standpoint, so far as I can tell, is an ideal he has of what might be the suitable creative situation for artists, and he reviews the 1960s with this in mind.

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In some basic respects, The Recurring Miracle and Antic Fables represent opposite ways of approaching Shakespeare.

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Rites of Passage qualifies for a notice in ABR because, although it is written and published in Britain, it is among other things an account of the adventures of one Edmund Talbot who has taken a passage to Australia sometime during a lull in the wars with France, towards the end of the eighteenth century.

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Yaldwyn of the Golden Spurs by J. O. Randell & Mountain Gold by John Adams

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April 1981, no. 29

For any who may suffer under the delusion that the production of good histories is easy, these three books offer some valuable lessons. The first, J.0. Randell’s Yaldwyn of the Golden Spurs, is the work of a Gentleman (i.e. amateur) historian, the other two are very much the labours of mere Players. William Henry Yaldwyn (1801–66) was a Sussex squire, (in Burke’s LandedGentry by the skin of his teeth), who turned Australian squatter to boost the family’s dwindling fortunes. He was certainly ‘in’ on some of the most significant historical action in midcentury Australia – pioneering Victorian squatter, a Port Phillip Gentleman and founder of the Melbourne Club, a visitor to the gold fields in 1852, and a few years later a pioneering squatter again, this time in Queensland. It was only Queensland that amply rewarded him, both financially and personally. He served two brief terms in the Legislative Council where, Mr Randell informs us, his ancestors’ Cromwellian sympathies encouraged him to propose a motion, finally passed by both houses in 1862, which established the elective nature of the upper house at the expense of the power of the Crown. As one of the few Queensland farmer politicians to have advanced the cause of Democracy, he is indeed a raraavis.

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Thirty-year-old Western Australian poet Philip Salom’s first collection takes its title from Camus: ‘... a prisoner in a camp where cold and hunger were almost unbearable – who constructed himself a silent piano.’

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