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John McLaren

John McLaren was founding editor of the second series of ABR (1978–1986).

Bookends | October 1978

October 1978, no. 5 01 October 1978
Beverley Kingston’s review in this issue draws attention to the effect the Women’s Liberation Movement has had on our understanding of our past. By asking the questions insistently imposed by the present, the historians of women’s affairs have not only forced us to see a segment of our history which had been hidden, but have made us realise that this omission was just part of a total distort ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 4 books of literary criticism

February–March 1980, no. 18 01 February 1980
While the reading of a book has become a solitary matter, its interpretation remains a convivial task which must be performed anew for each new reader, new age, and new country. The business of criticism is to help us in this task, and from a multitude of judgements to further our understanding of an author’s words for our time. The critic is therefore involved not only with books, but through t ... (read more)

Bookends | April 1980

April 1980, no. 19 01 April 1980
It may seem callous at a time when so much human life is being wasted to spare any concern for the destruction and dissipation of the archaeological collection in the National Museum at Kabul. Yet the loss in both cases is irreplaceable, and it may even be that the loss of the artefacts is, in the long run, qualitatively more important than the loss of individual human lives. This is a claim that ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'Play Little Victims' by Kenneth Cook

September 1978, no. 4 01 September 1978
Kenneth Cook’s latest book is a parable for adults. At the end of the second millennium A.D., God remembers the duty he has overlooked at the end of the first, destroys life on earth. However, no doubt due to his advanced age, he is a little careless, and in a valley in the in the middle of the United States, two mice survive. They and their rapidly multiplying descendants inherit man’s civili ... (read more)

Bookends | August 1980

August 1980, no. 23 01 January 1980
Marxists have always been concerned about the relationships of intellectuals to the rest of society, and particularly to change in society. The intellectual, being able to stand aside from immediate social pressures, is able to see the truth of what is happening, and so to correct the false consciousness of those who are involved in the everyday business of production. ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'Barbara Baynton (Portable Australian Authors)' edited by Sally Krimmer and Alan Lawson

August 1980, no. 23 01 August 1980
None of the writers who emerged from the Australian bush has dealt as powerfully with its horror as Barbara Baynton, yet she is probably mainly known only for the two anthologised short stories, ‘Scrammy ’And’ and ‘Squeaker’s Mate’, the latter of which has been made into an excellent short film by David Baker. The six tales in Bush Studies were reissued in paperback by Angus and Rober ... (read more)

Bookends | September 1978

September 1978, no. 4 16 September 2022
During next month – October – we celebrate Australian Book Week, and during this week the winners of the National Book Council 1978 Australian Literature Awards will be announced. As one of the judges, I have been forced by this contest to think not only about the value of competitions in the arts, but also about what we might mean by giving any book an award for ‘best of its kind’. Certai ... (read more)

John McLaren on the 1980 federal election

October 1980, no. 25 16 September 2022
The most imaginative, although in all probability the least politically effective, of the campaign badges produced for the current Australian elections is the ALP Badge, ‘the light on the hill’. The badge, a simple cloisonne in blue and red with gold wire, symbolises the hopes of that great Australian, J.B. Chifley. It is accompanied by a card with his words: We do say that it is the duty a ... (read more)

John McLaren reviews 'Toil and Spin' by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

April 1980, no. 19 01 April 1980
In a world which has lost its faith and its standards, the situation of the creative artist is both central and precarious. As Wallace­Crabbe sees it, he must stand inside and outside society at once, be both totally involved with himself and totally responsive to his society. While doing this, he must create not only his own audience but even his own language. In this series of essays, Walla ... (read more)

Bookends | June 1980

June 1980, no. 21 08 August 2022
The federal government’s proposal for a multicultural television network has sparked off once more a row about the nature of the Australian national identity. The opponents of the network seem to fear that it will cause all kinds of divisions in our community by emphasising the different places and cultures to which we owe our origins. They would like to restore the myth of a single nation, bou ... (read more)
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