Warrior For Peace: Dorothy Auchterlonie Green
Australian Scholarly Publishing, $44 pb, 247 pp
[I]magine that a dictator had decreed that all publications in the future must be signed ‘Anon’, on pain of imprisonment. This would clear the ground of all but the most dedicated and necessary authors, allow trees to breathe more freely, and diminish the carbon imbalance. It is worth thinking about.
Dorothy Green, ‘The Writer’
While preparing this review, I returned to Dorothy Green’s three lectures, published in Writer, Reader, Critic (1991), to savour their acerbically witty, sometimes provoking and surprisingly prescient arguments. One day I ran the above quotation, which ends ‘The Writer’ (1985), as my Facebook status update. Disappointingly, it attracted little comment. Then again, amid the virtual sound and fury of the Internet, this signified nothing much. It is not hard to imagine what Dorothy Auchterlonie Green (1915–91) might have said about Facebook and the drive to publish one’s thoughts, on a daily basis, for the edification of one’s networks – a drive that consumes precious resources, if not in trees then in carbon, and certainly in time and energy. Of course, even as I channel her likely views, I am conscious of their contradictions. Not only do we discern in the above epigraph a paradoxical blend of free-thought and authoritarianism, but in Green’s public address we can observe tensions arising between what she spurned – the narcissistic drive of more and more people to publish – and what she sought: the creation of literate, socially engaged communities.