My theme is the mixed and contentious business of reviewing: its influence, its limitations, its present condition in what we like to call our literary culture. I will largely confine my remarks to the literary pages of our newspapers and magazines. I don’t propose to comment on the learned journals – or criticism at monograph length issuing from the academy. (Not, sadly, that there is much of that kind of publishing in Australia these days.)
Nor, I hope, do I seem to disparage my colleagues in the editorial ranks. At the risk of sounding like a Qantas steward seeking our nervous attention before take-off: each magazine or newspaper, like each publishing house, has its own unique features that make it subtly different from all the others. Not every editor, for instance, enjoys total independence; the number of literary pages in our newspapers is often determined by the amount of advertising; not every editor is free to publish lengthy, discursive articles; some are required to publish a clutch of short, perky reviews.
But enough caveats!