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Australian Literary Studies

Twenty years after the publication of their ‘inclusive Australian literary history’, The New Diversity: Australian Fiction 1970–1988, Ken Gelder and Paul Salzman have returned with a ‘sequel’, After the Celebration: Australian Fiction 1989–2007. One leaden title succeeds another, although the tone of the second book is angrier. More of that later. As the authors note in their preface, The New Diversity was published by McPhee Gribble, an independent outfit that would largely be subsumed by Penguin in 1989, the year in which that book appeared. This observation prepares for the consistently impressive aspect of After the Celebration: its detailed, incisive, intelligently informed account of the changes in the circumstances of publishing, and especially fiction publishing, in Australia during the last two decades. One might take counsels of hope or despair from their analysis (particularly if one were a novelist), but still be grateful for it.

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Penguin’s publication of Helen Daniel’s critical book on the fiction of David Ireland is their first venture into Australian criticism, and one which I hope will be the beginning of a series on Australian writers.

David Ireland is an obvious choice for the launching of such a venture. As Daniel points out, he does not have the international reputation or readership of White or Keneally; she seems to suggest that this is because he is a far more ‘adventurous’ and ‘elusive’ writer. He has always been a controversial author in Australia, winner of many major awards, placed on some school/university reading lists, while barred as ‘obscene’ by other institutions.

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Diversity and Australian Literary Studies

by Australian Literary Studies
Book Talk

ALS is pleased to announce a new Book Reviews Program for emerging and early-career scholars. Reviews will centre on scholarly and non-fiction books about Australian literary cultures and/or by Australian literary studies scholars. The program will include mentoring in academic publishing from our editorial team and payment of $200 (for unwaged, precariously employed, or postgraduate colleagues).

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In his description of the verse novel as ‘the awkward child of successful parents, destined to disappoint both of them’, Michael Symmons Roberts emphasises the form’s sometimes disjunctive use of literary techniques commonly associated with poetry and prose fiction. While the verse novel has gained popularity since the 1980s, many of its features may be traced to epic poems such The Epic of Gilgamesh and Homer’s The Iliad, and the long narrative poems of the Romantic and Victorian periods. The form was established by Alexander Pushkin’s nineteenth-century verse novel Eugene Onegin, which was divided into stanzas; however, the definition and key features of the verse novel are still hotly debated.

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Feeding the Ghost 1: Criticism on contemporary Australian poetry edited by Andy Kissane, David Musgrave, and Carolyn Rickett

by
January-February 2019, no. 408

Perhaps the most encouraging sign in this Puncher & Wattmann collection of critical essays on contemporary Australian poets is the prominent ‘1’ on its front cover, promising that this will be the first in a series. Given that last year’s Contemporary Australian Poetry anthology by the same publisher featured more than two hundred poets ...

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Plenty of novelists begin life as poets. Few, though, have managed to maintain their status as poet–novelists quite so impressively as David Malouf. But even Malouf, in his ‘middle period’, more or less dropped poetry for his ‘big’ novels ...

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When D.H. Lawrence arrived in Australia on 4 May 1922, he was so ignorant of the country's actual conditions that he was, as David Game observes ...

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People who go in for the arts are often advised Don’t give up your day job. But what’s a suitable day job for a poet? A century ago many Australian poets made a meagre living as freelance writers for newspapers and magazines. Some even took up journalism full-time, writing their verses on the side. The old Bulletin, one of the wellsprings of Austra ...

In appraising the poet Peter Porter, David Malouf writes that ‘the world we inhabit is a vast museum – call it History, or Art, or the History of Art. For Porter, the exhibits were still alive and active.’ So it is with Malouf himself: his world includes Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the awful and bloody twentieth century, a Brisbane childhood, and much more – including an abiding intellectual embrace of great writers and great writing.

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We do nothing alone,’ writes Alex Miller, in his brief memoir ‘The Mask of Fiction’, where he gives an account of the generative processes of his writing. Art, according to Miller, comes from the capacity of the writer to ‘see ourselves as the other’. Early in his career, Miller’s friend Max Blatt woke him, in his farmhouse at Araluen, in order to dismiss the weighty and unsuccessful manuscript that Miller had given him to read. Blatt’s urgent and unsociable rejection of the manuscript may have saved Miller’s work, establishing a new emotional basis for his writing. ‘Why don’t you write about something you love?’ Blatt asked. That night, Blatt told Miller a true story of personal survival and Miller began to write afresh. In the morning, Blatt accepted Miller’s version of the story he had told with the words: ‘You could have been there.’

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