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Review

The publication of Miles Franklin’s diaries, written during her years in Australia from 1932 until her death in 1954, must be one of the year’s major literary events. events. Franklin, who frequently lamented her relative neglect in the contemporary literary culture of the 1930s and 1940s, has become steadily more and more visible since the 1970s, when international feminism discovered My Brilliant Career (1901). Meanwhile, much of her continuing significance is due secondarily to the extensive biographical research by Jill Roe and others.

Primarily, Paul Brunton’s source is the enormous archive of letters, manuscripts, reviews, notebooks, and diaries that Franklin left to the Mitchell Library. Brunton has mined this archive with great sensitivity and fine scholarship. This volume has a balanced introduction placing the entries in the context of Franklin’s life, explanatory footnotes through the text, a glossary of names, a bibliography of Franklin’s published works, a list of manuscript sources, an index and photographs. An occasional editorial note is inserted tactfully as a biographical signpost.

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Japanese troops landed and occupied Lae and Salamaua in north-eastern Papua on 8 March 1942. In an elaborate operation scheduled for early May, the Japanese planned a seaborne invasion of Port Moresby to safeguard their positions in New Guinea and in the Rabaul area, to provide a base that would bring northern Australia within range of their warships and bombers, and to secure the flank of their projected advance towards New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa.

Countermoves by the US Navy defeated this attempt. Therefore, in June 1942, Lieutenant-General Harukichi Hyakutake’s XVII Army was ordered to gather its divisions from Davao in the Philippines, from Java and from Rabaul, and to prepare for a revised attack on Port Moresby. In a two-pronged approach, one Japanese group would take Milne Bay (south-eastern Papua) by an assault from the sea and advance on Port Moresby along the coast; the other would attack overland from Buna and Gona (northern Papua) along the Kokoda Trail.

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The centenary of the first sitting of the High Court of Australia was celebrated in the same courtroom in Melbourne in October 2003. There followed a conference in Canberra reviewing the decisions of the Court over the course of a century. The papers of that conference will shortly be published for a legal audience.

In advance of that book, CUP has published sixteen essays to give a more general audience an idea of the role the High Court has performed in the leading issues in which it has been involved. The writers are assigned important decisions or major themes. They explain the background. They describe proceedings in the High Court and (whilst it lasted) the Privy Council. They put their subjects in context and evaluate their significance in terms accessible to an informed lay reader. This book contains plenty of new insights that combine to make it a commemorative volume, but without many of the defects normal in that genre.

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Aptly, John Ashberry has described Robert Adamson as ‘one of Australia’s national treasures’. Since the late 1960s Adamson has been a vital presence in the renaissance of Australian poetry, both in his own work and as an editor and publisher. The immense command of his writing, its trajectory from the early postmodernist explorations of the poet’s voice and the possibilities of Orphic vision to the clear lyricism of his Hawkesbury poems, has made Adamson one of the reasons why Australian poetry, as Clive James often points out, is as good as any being written in English at the present time. And there is an extraordinary story behind the writing, which comes through in the poetry, and which Adamson now relates in Inside Out: An Autobiography.

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The last institution of old Collingwood, the Collingwood Football Club, is poised to take flight from yuppified terraces in the former industrial suburb or new headquarters, on the site of what was once John Wren’s motordrome, Olympic Park. Now is a perfect moment in which to read this intriguing story of the one-time patron of Collingwood’s football, politics and gambling – Its masculine working-class culture, more or less. Published fifty-one years after Wren’s death, will Griffin’s biography finally allow the ghosts – not of Collingwood, but of its fictional shadow, the Carringbush of Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory (1950) – to rest? Probably not.

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Was there ever an uglier duckling than Australian republicanism? It’s a movement whose end is vital to anyone who believes that a people should attempt to extend the control over their own destiny, but which, of itself, fails to inspire the slightest excitement in anyone for whom politics is a living, breathing thing. Even more suspicious are those for whom republicanism is an exciting cause. They’re a strange mob, often decent and committed people, but able to subsist on a fairly thin diet. Because so many of them are lawyers, they are always on the ball when it comes to saying how the Constitution should be changed and what new mechanism should be put in place. Because so many of them are lawyers, the movement is efficient and well run. And because so many of them are lawyers, no one else trusts them or feels comfortable working with them.

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An appreciation of Goya, contends Robert Hughes, has become essential for Europeans wishing to make themselves literate in their own culture. Goya’s significance is heightened because his works are arguments for humanity, to be balanced against the horrors he depicted. Goya (1746–1828) indeed remains our contemporary. His life, his imagery and his dilemmas resonate at a time when countries are being invaded for their own good, as Europe was by Napoleon, provoking the first guerillas.

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In 1972, at the start of my career as a science journalist, I was asked to produce the Commonwealth Day documentary, a portrait of the spectacular Anglo Australian Telescope being built on Siding Spring Mountain. Together with the Australian National University, an independent board was driving the telescope project. I set off to Canberra to interview the infamous Olin Eggen, then director of Mount Stromlo.

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The heroine of Julian Davies’s fifth novel, The Boy, which is set in New York in 1956, is a nightclub singer originally from Australia. The boy of the title, almost half her age, is Zimzam Taylor. They are both outsiders. Marian’s life in New York is a kind of exile, in which she is closest to those she has left behind, such as her painter-husband André and her insistent, disapproving aunt Flavia, whom she left behind on the estate outside Canberra in order to sing in wartime London. Zimzam, as she learns when she picks him up and takes him back to her hotel, is an orphan whose family died in a fire. Now he is a creature of the city:

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Cresciani’s very readable revised edition of The Italians is particularly informative on the early history of Italo-Australia. First published in 1985 with ABC Enterprises, based on the excellent television series of the same name, this new edition promises to provide ‘the definitive account’ of Italian life in Australia ‘into the twenty-first century’. Cresciani’s treatment of certain aspects of Italian migration to Australia is worthy of such a bold claim. He is especially good at weaving together the histories of both countries to provide an instructive account of how the vicissitudes of one indelibly affected the other. His treatment of contemporary immigrant life, however, is rather dated.

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