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Christina Hill

This novel is about the redemption of a man believed to have committed murder. E. Annie Proulx, in her discontinuous novel Postcards (1993), sympathetically traces the tragic life of a protagonist who raped and accidentally killed his lover. Heather Rose poses a similar ethical question about a protagonist who was a real person; she imagines a post-murder existence for the infamous Lord Lucan, who in 1974 was accused of murdering his children’s nanny and of violently attacking his estranged wife.

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In reading a biography of Frank Hardy, it is almost impossible to separate the man, as subject, from the work for which he is famous, the novel Power Without Glory (1950) based on the life of John Wren. If I did not want to reach for my gun every time I hear the word ‘icon’ these days, I would say that this novel still has iconic status in Australian culture. The title is a pithy reworking of Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory (1940), about the ethics of a Catholic priest in southern Mexico. Like Greene, Hardy was driven by a quasi-religious commitment, but for him it was a lifelong commitment to the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) rather than to Catholicism.

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Beyond The Legend by Noni Durack & Out Of The Silence by Wendy James

November 2005, no. 276

These two first novels are based upon events and people from Australian history. Noni Durack recasts the story of the pastoralists of the north-west of Australia in terms of an enlightened awareness of land degradation, but the narrative remains oddly captive to the legend of heroic conquest that she is trying to critique. Wendy James, on the other hand, has written an elegant feminist account of the lives of women in Melbourne at the time of the struggle for women’s suffrage.

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