Peter Craven

Peter Craven

Peter Craven is one of Australia's best-known literary and culture critics. He writes regularly for both the Fairfax and Murdoch press about literature, film, television, and theatre.

Peter Craven reviews 'Daddy We Hardly Knew You' by Germaine Greer

June 1989, no. 111 01 June 1989
Peter Craven reviews 'Daddy We Hardly Knew You' by Germaine Greer
There are few people on earth I would rather read than Germaine Greer, mad or sane. Whatever reservations I might want to express about Daddy We Hardly Knew You, it is some testament to its compelling power that I read most of it strung-out with fatigue from checking proofs some time towards dawn and I still found it difficult to stop reading. Oscar Wilde cannot have been the first human being to ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'The Book Of Dust, Volume Two: The Secret Commonwealth' by Philip Pullman

March 2020, no. 419 21 February 2020
Peter Craven reviews 'The Book Of Dust, Volume Two: The Secret Commonwealth' by Philip Pullman
Philip Pullman must be one of the weirdest figures to emerge from the sometimes dark woods of children’s writing. Not the least striking thing about him is that the woods can be very dark, Dante-dark, indeed. At the same time, he does not have the ballast of those two mutually despising inklings to whom he is routinely compared, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, in having the deeper comforts of any ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'The Clean Dark' by Robert Adamson

November 1989, no. 116 01 November 1989
Peter Craven reviews 'The Clean Dark' by Robert Adamson
Robert Adamson has as secure a reputation as any poet in this country apart from Les Murray. He rose to prominence in the latter part of the 1960s at the same time as John Tranter, but his affinity was not with the New York poets like John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara, but with the poets of Black Mountain: Charles Olson, Gary Snyder, and, most particularly, with the late Robert Duncan. Adamson took ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'The Puzzles of Childhood' by Manning Clark

October 1989, no. 115 01 October 1989
Peter Craven reviews 'The Puzzles of Childhood' by Manning Clark
Manning Clark will be remembered as a historian long after the last jot and tittle of the facts he amassed have been disputed and every revisionism has had its day, proving for those with the needful faith that he made it all up, that he was a waffler, that the diorama he presented as the history of Australia was nothing but an allegory of the inside of his head, and that it was all vanity and a s ... (read more)

'Obituary for Helen Daniel' by Peter Craven

November 2000, no. 226 01 November 2000
'Obituary for Helen Daniel' by Peter Craven
Helen Daniel, the editor of Australian Book Review since 1995, died suddenly on Monday, 16 October 2000. Her death has sent waves of shock and sorrow throughout the Australian literary world. According to Andrew Riemer, at the Writers’ Week in Brisbane, held on the weekend after Helen’s death, session after session paid homage to this woman who, without vanity or arrogation, had made her name ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'A Pavane for Another Time' by Bernard Smith

November 2002, no. 246 01 November 2002
Peter Craven reviews 'A Pavane for Another Time' by Bernard Smith
It’s a Proustian title, or at any rate a Powellian one, that Bernard Smith has produced for this memoir of his life in the long-ago 1940s, and, yes, there on the cover is Anthony Powell’s hero, Poussin. That’s doubly appropriate because one of the more vivid figures (though also one of the more saturnine ones) in this remembrance of things past is Anthony Blunt, great scholar of Poussin’s ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Corfu: A novel' by Robert Dessaix

August 2001, no. 233 01 August 2001
Peter Craven reviews 'Corfu: A novel' by Robert Dessaix
In the last however many years, we have seen the rise of a kind of faction in this country which has enabled people like Drusilla Modjeska and Brian Matthews to show what scintillation and what fireworks may follow when the life of the mind (with whatever attendant discursive zigzagging) allows itself to imagine a world as well as to analyse one. It’s not too hard to say that the peculiar energy ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Eucalyptus: A novel' by Murray Bail

June 1998, no. 201 01 June 1998
Peter Craven reviews 'Eucalyptus: A novel' by Murray Bail
Murray Bail has passed muster as an important Australian novelist for quite a while now.  His 1980 novel Homesickness, with its sustained parodic conceit of Australian tourists forever entering the prefab theme park, rather than its ‘real’ original, was an early national venture into what might have been postmodernism. Holden's Performance, a good time later, was as unyielding in its come ... (read more)

Julius Caesar (Bell Shakespeare Company)

ABR Arts 23 July 2018
Julius Caesar (Bell Shakespeare Company)
Julius Caesar, first performed in 1599, dates from the period when Shakespeare was leading up to Hamlet, and its central figure Brutus, the conscientious assassin, is a bit of a rough draft for the introspective side of the Prince of Denmark, whereas Richard II, four years earlier, had been for his actorishness. The play is often first encountered in middle high school. It is one of Shakespeare’ ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'The Boy Behind the Curtain' by Tim Winton

December 2016, no. 387 23 November 2016
Peter Craven reviews 'The Boy Behind the Curtain' by Tim Winton
Everybody thinks they know about Tim Winton: the working-class hero from the West; the whale of a man who’s been writing since he was a boy; the master of one of those big Australian prose styles that is muscular and magnetic and sometimes just a bit too self-delighting; someone who straddles the literary and the popular like a colossus. Whatever you think of The Riders (1994), Dirt Music (2001 ... (read more)
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