Peter Craven

It’s a Proustian title, or at any rate a Powellian one, that Bernard Smith has produced for this memoir of his life in the long-ago 1940s, and, yes, there on the cover is Anthony Powell’s hero, Poussin. That’s doubly appropriate because one of the more vivid figures (though also one of the more saturnine ones) in this remembrance of things past is Anthony Blunt, great scholar of Poussin’s work, master spy, eminent director of the Courtauld and critical educator of the Young Bernard.

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Peter Craven reviews 'Corfu: A novel' by Robert Dessaix

Peter Craven
Wednesday, 14 August 2019

In the last however many years, we have seen the rise of a kind of faction in this country which has enabled people like Drusilla Modjeska and Brian Matthews to show what scintillation and what fireworks may follow when the life of the mind (with whatever attendant discursive zigzagging) allows itself to imagine a world ...

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Peter Craven reviews 'Eucalyptus: A novel' by Murray Bail

Peter Craven
Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Murray Bail has passed muster as an important Australian novelist for quite a while now.  His 1980 novel Homesickness, with its sustained parodic conceit of Australian tourists forever entering the prefab theme park, rather than its ‘real’ original, was an early national venture into what might have been postmodernism. Holden's Performance, a good time later ...

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Julius Caesar (Bell Shakespeare Company) ★★★

Peter Craven
Monday, 23 July 2018

Julius Caesar, first performed in 1599, dates from the period when Shakespeare was leading up to Hamlet, and its central figure Brutus, the conscientious assassin, is a bit of a rough draft for the introspective side of the Prince of Denmark, whereas Richard II, four years earlier ...

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Books of the Year 2016

Sheila Fitzpatrick et al.
Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia (Peter Lang), a fascinating compendium of Jewish musicians who found refuge in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, is now available in Australian Diana K. Weekes’s excellent translation ...

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Peter Craven reviews 'The Boy Behind the Curtain' by Tim Winton

Peter Craven
Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Everybody thinks they know about Tim Winton: the working-class hero from the West; the whale of a man who’s been writing since he was a boy; the master of one of ...

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Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the marvels of contemporary fiction. The Peruvian Nobel Prize winner not only bestrides it like a colossus, he is also a law unto himself. It is as if he takes the legacy of a realism that is only in his hands magical (because of the enchantment he creates from it) as a kind of blank cheque with which he can license any expense of narrat ...

Reading Australia: 'Lilian's Story' by Kate Grenville

Peter Craven
Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Kate Grenville’s Lilian’s Story is one of the great Australian novels of the last thirty years. When it was first published in 1985, it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. The original cover carried a recommendation by Patrick White, Nobel laureate and the greatest writer of any kind Australia has produced. White said ...

Last month in Melbourne, a group of book reviewers and literary editors took part in a conference organised by Monash University’s Centre for the Book. There were more than thirty short papers, or ‘provocations’, as they were styled. Our Editor lamented the low or non-payment of some reviewers (especially youn ...

The legend of Kenneth Mackenzie (1913–55) has always hovered around the corridors of Australian literature. From Western Australia, was he? Died young, didn’t he? Trouble with drink, wasn’t it? Or sexual identity, could it have been? They say he’s worth reading but nobody much has, have they?

Well, the republication of The Young ...

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