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John McLaren

John McLaren was founding editor of the second series of ABR (1978–1986).

Bookends by John McLaren | May 1979

May 1979, no. 10 01 May 1979
Although the policy of the Australian Book Review is to review only Australian books, every now and then a publisher sends us a book which is so important or so relevant to issues of current concern that it cannot be ignored. Recent debate in Australian newspapers makes The Holocaust in Historical Perspective, by Yehuda Bauer (published in Australia by ANU Press), such a book. The book consists o ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'Angry Penguins: 1944 Autumn Number to Commemorate the Australian Poet Ern Malley' and 'Poetic Gems' by Max Harris

February–March 1980, no. 18 01 February 1980
In his introduction to The New Australian Poetry, reviewed elsewhere in this issue by Thomas Shapcott, John Tranter declares that this poetry has no allegiance except to itself. Some characteristics of works regarded as modernist are: ‘self-signature’ – the work validates its own technical innovations – and self-reference, where the ‘method’ is reflected consciously in the ‘medium’ ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'The Australian Encyclopedia', Third Edition by the Grolier Society of Australia

September 1978, no. 4 01 September 1978
The first edition of the Australian Encyclopedia was published by Angus & Robertson in two volumes in 1925, under the general editorship of Captain Arthur Jose. The second edition, completely revised and rewritten, was published in 1958 and ran to ten volumes, including an index. The editorial team was headed by Alec Chisholm. This edition was later sold to the Grolier Society, which has now p ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'Persistence in Folly' by Les Murray

April 1985, no. 69 01 April 1985
The heat of recent controversy in Australia about the meaning and value of multiculturalism in education, in history and in society at large is an indication of the tenacity with which a dominant culture, in this case that of British Australia, clings to its privileges. However, to the extent that these cultures come to recognise the differences and tensions existing within the dominant culture i ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'An Imaginary Life' by David Malouf

October 1978, no. 5 01 October 1978
The title of David Malouf’s novel, An Imaginary Life, must be read three ways. Most obviously, the novel is an imaginative recreation of the last years of the life of the Roman poet, Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid), who was exiled to a village on the Black Sea by the Emperor Augustus in the last century BCE. The life is imaginary because it imagines – most successfully – the circumstances of thi ... (read more)

'New lands, new literature' by John McLaren

February–March 1986, no. 78 01 February 1986
Dhvanyaloka, the Literary Criterion Centre at Mysore, derives its names from a classic Indian work of literary criticism and, by way of Cambridge, from T.S. Eliot’s journal of the 1920s. The Indian work saw literature as a spreading of the light, Eliot saw it as the maintenance and renewal of tradition. Mysore, Professor C.D. Narasimhaiah applies these two principles to the study of Commonwealth ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'The Ear in the Wheatfield' edited by Kris Hemensley

June 1986, no. 81 01 June 1986
The everlasting dance of sounds and feelings and colours, the taste and scent of life, comes to us in its most explicit form in words. Even when Proust’s famous Madeleine led him back through its scents and associations in search of a time that was lost, he followed its tracks through words that brought back the images of the past and tied them down into clear grammatical patterns of form and re ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'Rock Choppers: Growing up Catholic in Australia' by Edmund Campion

September 1982, no. 44 01 September 1982
The decisive influence on Australian politics and culture has been the fact that our society has always included a large minority who, even if they considered themselves British, were definitely Irish and not English. The fact that this minority has been Catholic and, as a result, has felt itself discriminated against, has shaped the church into an Irish rather than a European mode, so that, as Ca ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'Overland 100', edited by Stephen Murray-Smith

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77 01 December 1985
Perth, like Sydney, is a city of water, but the water on display is safely enclosed in the reaches of the Swan. Here ferries and commuting speedboats plough their straight lines among flocks of red or blue sailed dinghies sailing and tacking in sudden turns like flocks of tropical fish. In Fremantle, sailors’ missions and clubs straggle around the side streets, and the mall on a Saturday afterno ... (read more)

John Mclaren reviews 'Good Mates!' by Paul Radley

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77 01 December 1985
Paul Radley’s novels are about loss and growth. The first, the prize-winning Jack Rivers and Me, showed how ‘Peanut’ was forced to shed his imaginary companion as a part of his joining the world of school. My Blue-Checker Corker and Me dealt with a twelve-year-old boy’s reaction to grief at the loss of his racing pigeon. Now, in his latest, he takes us through five years in the lives of tw ... (read more)
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