It is not often that a truly ground-breaking work appears, publishers’ hype notwithstanding. Paul Eggert has produced two such works in the one year, which must be a record. Both relate to Henry Lawson (1867–1922), arguably the most famous Australian writer of all time.
Material culture is everywhere. We hoard it, we gift it, we visit it, we label it and we read it. There is little doubt that the production, preservation, use and re-use of material culture is a key means by which cultural identity is retained, protected and made available across generations. Understanding how a society inherits its cultural identity tells us a lot about that society and what it values. The danger is that this inheritance may be degraded and disenfranchised as time and fashion alter both the meaning, and materiality, of the object. If we are concerned about the stories that objects tell, we must also be concerned about possibilities for misunderstandings and mistranslations. Enter Paul Eggert and his new book, Securing the Past: Conservation in Art, Architecture and Literature.
Rolf Boldrewood’s Robbery Under Arms is the ninth volume to be published by the Academy Editions of Australian Literature project. Edited by Paul Eggert and Elizabeth Webby, the handsome volume is a major addition to this growing library of classics of Australian writing. It will undoubtedly become the definitive critical edition of Robbery Under Arms; the comprehensive scholarship that accompanies this book will illuminate our teaching and thinking about Boldrewood’s classic in the twenty-first century.
First published in 1951 and again in 1959, Dal Stivens’s novel, Jimmy Brockett, is now republished as one of Penguin’s ‘Australian Selection’. Reading it, you find yourself being drawn into admiration of a man who is undeniably obnoxious.