Bernadette Brennan reviews 'The Burning Library: Great Novelists Lost and Found' by Geordie Williamson

An anxious look at Australian literary studies

Bernadette Brennan reviews 'The Burning Library: Great Novelists Lost and Found' by Geordie Williamson

The Burning Library: Great Novelists Lost and Found

by Geordie Williamson

Text Publishing, $32.99 pb, 224 pp, 9781921922985

As a reader, teacher, and scholar of Australian literature, I applaud any initiative directed towards increasing readers’ understanding of, and engagement with, Australian writing. Geordie Williamson’s The Burning Library sets out to achieve that goal. Through a mix of biography and literary review, Williamson seeks to recuperate the work and reputation of fifteen Australian writers whom he judges to have been underappreciated or sidelined by academics, publishers, and, consequently, the reading public. His stable of writers includes Marjorie Barnard, Flora Eldershaw, Xavier Herbert, Christina Stead, Dal Stivens, Patrick White, Jessica Anderson, Sumner Locke Elliott, Amy Witting, Olga Masters, David Ireland, Elizabeth Harrower, Thomas Keneally, Randolph Stow, and Gerald Murnane.

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Published in February 2013, no. 348
Bernadette Brennan

Bernadette Brennan

Bernadette Brennan is a former Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sydney, and a former President of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL). Dr Brennan has published widely on various aspects of Australian literature. She is currently working on a critical biography of Helen Garner.