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Humphrey McQueen

Humphrey McQueen is a Canberra author and reviewer.

Humphrey McQueen reviews 'Goya' by Robert Hughes

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257 01 December 2003
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 ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen reviews 'The Crag: Castlecrag 1924-1938' by Wanda Spathopoulos

March 2008, no. 299 01 March 2008
‘Ithaca itself was scarcely more longed for by Ulysses, than Botany Bay by the adventurers who had traversed so many thousand miles to take possession of it,’ wrote Watkin Tench of his companions on the First Fleet. Governor Phillip’s 1786 Commission had instructed him to build castles. Fitting their vision of the new into the old, settlers named the rocky outcrop above Middle Harbour as ‘ ... (read more)

'‘In for “Higher Art” I’d Go’' At the National Portrait Gallery' by Humphrey McQueen

May 2009, no. 311 01 May 2009
When the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) opened in Canberra last December, more thoughtfulness was evident in its bookshop than the hang. The volumes are arranged by subject and in alphabetical order: the images accord to no principle beyond décor. Here are five writers; there, four scientists. The randomness of the whole embodies a culture of distraction. The root of this muddle is an evasion of ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen Column

December 1992, no. 147 18 July 2022
Ten years ago, as I prepared to leave for three months in New York, an Australian friend resident in the USA sent a brochure about a new kind of portable typewriter which she said might be worth my buying. The machine could memorise a whole line of type which could be corrected by being viewed in sections through a panel capable of displaying sixteen letters or spaces. When I reached New York, she ... (read more)

Rolling Column | Humphrey McQueen

February–March 1991, no. 128 01 February 1991
Rudyard Kipling could not understand why his cheque account was so much in credit. The answer was that the tradespeople in his village were selling his signature to autograph collectors for more than they would have received by presenting Kipling’s cheques to the bank. Marcel Duchamp sent a cheque, drawn on an imaginary bank, to his dentist who did not accept that a work of art by Duchamp would ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen remembers Manning Clark

July 1991, no. 132 01 July 1991
Dear Manning, I’m writing you this letter for want of better ways of continuing the conversation we’ve been having for the past eight years, sustained by weekly letters while I was in Japan. We began to walk and talk in 1983 as you were preparing for heart surgery and I wasn’t coping with a broken heart. You wanted someone to walk with, and I needed company. When you died at 4pm on a Thurs ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen reviews 'Kenneth Slessor: A biography' by Geoffrey Dutton

February–March 1991, no. 128 01 February 1991
Geoffrey Dutton will not concentrate. Information relevant to his subject reminds him of other titbits, as in this cascade of irrelevancies: McKee Wright deserves the credit for having first published Slessor, and he published a remarkable number of women poets. However, some of his favourites amongst the latter might have been better left in obscurity. Marie E.J. Pitt, for example, in the issu ... (read more)

'What’s in a Name' by Humphrey McQueen

December 1988, no. 107 01 December 1988
First up, best dressed is a warning for flatmates where the laggard must take comfort from the prospect that ‘An overcoat covers a multitude of sins’.  Like the overcoat, research can include a richness of distractions. Asked by her professor what she was doing, one graduate student answered ‘Research’. ‘That’s good’, returned the professor. ‘These days most people seem to be ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen reviews 'A Radical Life: The autobiography of Russel Ward' by Russel Ward

December 1988, no. 107 01 December 1988
What would you like to know? Doc Evatt’s on-the­-spot explanation of why he wrote to Molotov? Archbishop Mannix’s response to Cardinal Spellman’s claim on the papacy? The particular pleasure derived from small boys by the headmaster of Geelong Grammar Junior School? How a knowledge of Urdu maintained the Hands off Indonesia blockade? What Malcolm Ellis said to Charles Currey when the lif ... (read more)

'Packaging White' by Humphrey McQueen

August 1991, no. 133 01 August 1991
The way that books are presented has changed from the time when Patrick White’s Happy Valley first appeared in 1939. Humphrey McQueen charts the progress. If before the 1890s, books had been judged by their dust jackets, most would have been considered uniformly dull, or indecently attired. Dust jackets appeared first in 1833 to protect the recently introduced cloth casings as they made thei ... (read more)
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