The poems of Ern Malley must be on the way to becoming the most reprinted collection of twentieth-century Australian poetry. As Max Harris says in his essay, one of the pivots of this book:
More than forty years on, after his death from Graves’ disease and his burial at Rookwood Cemetery in 1944, after twelve editions of his collected poetry in the intervening years, Ern Malley is alive and well and living as an Australian literary legend.
Ern Malley is more than that. He has become an international literary legend, and I suspect that with Michael Heyward’s book on the affair the international fame will accelerate. The several essays or ‘commentaries’ in this A&R edition explain why, if we do not know already. They give this edition its special value, though it fits in well with other recent discoveries of the 1940s in the same A&R series – the poems of James Gleeson and Alister Kershaw. These have all been the enterprise of Tom Thompson in his period as literary editor, and they have been useful additions to our understanding of that still surprisingly untilled area.