Peter Craven

Peter Craven

Peter Craven is one of Australia's best-known literary and culture critics. He writes regularly for both the Fairfax and Murdoch press about literature, film, television, and theatre.

'The Well': A sensitive adaptation of Elizabeth Jolley's dramatic novel

September 1997, no. 194 01 September 1997
'The Well': A sensitive adaptation of Elizabeth Jolley's dramatic novel
The Australian film industry got going in the 1970s perhaps just a little before the resurgence of Australian publishing and perhaps for that reason there has been less interplay between Australian film and Australian writing than there might have been. Patrick White raged and roared about the prospect of Joseph Losey and Max Von Sydow making a film of Voss, but that was the tormenting hope of a m ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Last Letter to a Reader: Essays' by Gerald Murnane

December 2021, no. 438 24 November 2021
Peter Craven reviews 'Last Letter to a Reader: Essays' by Gerald Murnane
No contemporary Australian writer has higher claims to immortality than Gerald Murnane and none exhibits narrower tonal range. It’s a long time since we encountered the boy with his marbles and his liturgical colours in some Bendigo of the mind’s dreaming in Tamarisk Row (1974). There was the girl who was the embodiment of dreaming in A Lifetime on Clouds (1976). After The Plains (1982) c ... (read more)

'Highbrow and Lowbrow' by Peter Craven

October 1998, no. 205 01 October 1998
The last thing a highbrow hack needs is to find himself in a sustained bout of controversy with a blockbusting writer from the other side of the tracks. A few weeks ago at the Melbourne Writers Festival, I found myself a participant in a discussion about reviewing (and whether the critic was a friend or a foe) which rapidly turned into a sustained accusation on the part of the bestselling novelist ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Reading the Holocaust' by Inga Clendinnen

October 1998, no. 205 01 October 1998
Peter Craven reviews 'Reading the Holocaust' by Inga Clendinnen
The Holocaust is a subject which numbs the mind and petrifies the soul. This is the point at which Inga Clendinnen starts her remarkable set of essays about it. The Holocaust is a Gorgon and the only way to destroy it, Perseus-like, is to hold it’s image on the screen of the shield and stare back. The historian of The Aztecs, this remarkable woman who has always attended to the inflections of hu ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Murder in the Groove' by Dave Warner

May 1999, no. 210 01 May 1999
Peter Craven reviews 'Murder in the Groove' by Dave Warner
Dave Warner, one-time singer and satirist, has been at work as a detective story writer for a few years now, penning long excoriations of West Australia Inc. style shenanigans and, according to reports, working pretty much in the shadow of that L.A. master (with all his fizz and stammer and sparkle), the great James Ellroy. ... (read more)

National Library Australian Voices Essay | ‘The kingdom of correct usage is elsewhere’ by Peter Craven

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
Some years ago the poet John Forbes was addressing himself to that national monument, Les Murray, and he had occasion to remark, ‘The trouble with vernacular republics is that they presuppose that the kingdom of correct usage is elsewhere.’ It was, I suppose, designed to highlight the fact that the homespun qualities of the Bard from Bunyah were dependent on an awareness of the metropolitan st ... (read more)

'Shakespeare in Australia' by Peter Craven

September 2001, no. 234 01 September 2001
In James Joyce’s Ulysses, Shakespeare is referred to as the happy hunting ground of all minds which have lost their balance. He is also referred to by Buck Mulligan, even less reverently, though with a distinct nationalist tilt, as ‘Shakespeare. I seem to recall the name. Ah, to be sure, the fellow who writes like Synge.’ Well, there probably are analogies between the greatest of all dramati ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Collected Poems I 1961-1981' and 'Collected Poems II 1984-1999' by Peter Porter

July 1999, no. 212 01 July 1999
Peter Craven reviews 'Collected Poems I 1961-1981' and 'Collected Poems II 1984-1999' by Peter Porter
Peter Porter first came to prominence nearly forty years ago as an ironic, tough, rather dandyish poet who wore his Australian expatriatism with a flair and who kept his poetic distance on a London which enthralled and appalled him. He came out with striking lines like ‘I am only the image I can force upon the town’ – all glitter and brittleness – but he was also the kind of poet who could ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews the film of Oscar and Lucinda

February–March 1998, no. 198 01 February 1998
Peter Craven reviews the film of Oscar and Lucinda
Oscar and Lucinda is the next best thing we have to that gleaming oxymoron a contemporary Australian literary classic. It won a swag of prizes (not least the Booker); it is a long vibrant narrative, including history full of the rustle of Victorian costumes, but with a whisper of the horrors on which this country was founded with a brief ghastly moment representing the murder of Aborigines. Peter ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Apropos of Nothing' by Woody Allen

June–July 2020, no. 422 26 May 2020
Peter Craven reviews 'Apropos of Nothing' by Woody Allen
Whatever you think of Woody Allen, you will probably find his memoir, Apropos of Nothing, compelling. It’s likely to convince you that he didn’t molest his adoptive daughter Dylan all those years ago. The resurgence of this accusation, first aired in 1992, has caused such widespread concern that Hachette pulled this book because of vehement objections by Ronan Farrow, Allen’s biological son ... (read more)
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