The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet
HarperCollins, $49.99 hb, 470 pp, 9780732287221
It is quite extraordinary how often in this country we resort to caricature in our cultural expression. Think of the hammy acting in Australian films and television, the switches in levels of reality in Patrick White’s novels and plays, the new lead William Dobell gave to modern Australian painting or Keith Looby designs for Wagner. Peter Carey has made his fortune from it; Bill Leak has made it his trademark. And no, we won’t start on the politicians, thank you.
We happily mingle different kinds of representation, as though there are no categories worth acknowledging. Why should that not be the case, when you consider our native species, botanical and zoographical? The natural order of things is upset here. Ours is a country to break all illusions; only mirages are real. We have our own inherent transgressive reality (to use the idiom of today’s students) and aesthetic.