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Judith Armstrong

Judith Armstrong

Judith Armstrong’s most recent book, War & Peace and Sonya, has just been republished in London by the Unicorn Press.

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Confessions of a Clay Man' by Igor Gelbach

November 2001, no. 236 01 November 2001
The Russian theorist Yuri Lotman said: ‘Plot is a way of understanding the world.’ On this basis, texts with plots – novels, for example – do more for us than texts without plots. The telephone book, for example, a plotless text par excellence, may promote aspects of communication, but adds little to our attempt to make sense of life. However, Igor Gelbach, a Georgian Russian now living in ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'The Nether Regions' by Sue Gough

April 2001, no. 229 01 April 2001
Poisonous, profiteering physiotherapist Sue Mindberry is making a packet by charging seven gullible, fifty plus women $1000 per head for thirteen three-hour sessions of hydrotherapy. They are variously brain-damaged, hugely obese, psychically astray and arthritic. Sue Gough believes with Germaine that even such as these do not deserve the invisibility that age is supposed to confer. She gives them ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'The President's Wife' by Thea Welsh

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
It is surprising how many people seem to think that reviewers read only the first and last chapters of books to which they will devote several hundred words of critique. They look sceptical when informed that critics read every word of, and often go beyond, the featured book, searching out earlier works by the same author or books on the same subject by other writers. Thea Welsh being previously u ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'The Mysterious Tales of Ivan Turgenev' edited and translated by Robert Dessaix

February–March 1980, no. 18 01 September 1978
This volume of stories adds to the spate of books by or about Turgenev that have appeared recently yet it cannot be said to be redundant, as it provides an English version of five novellas not readily available in a collected form. Since the translator’s argument rests on the importance of the frequently neglected later part of Turgenev’s oeuvre (i.e. the shorter works appearing after the majo ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Turgenev: The Quest for Faith' by Robert Dessaix

October 1980, no. 25 10 December 2021
While there are several biographies of Ivan Turgenev, and one or two specialised studies of his works available in English, there is only one comprehensive attempt at interpretation and criticism –Richard Freeborn’s Turgenev: The novelist’s novelist. The A.N.U. Press’s publication of Robert Dessaix’s doctoral dissertation is a valuable addition to a scanty field, especially as there is v ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'To the death, Amic' by John Bryson

August 1994, no. 163 01 August 1994
The trial of Lindy Chamberlain drew the fascinated attention of most Australians when it was reported day and night in every media outlet. It moved into a different but equally popular mode with the publication of John Bryson’s documentary novel Evil Angels and the screening of Fred Schepisi’s film of the same name. The novel not only won a clutch of awards but was translated into nine languag ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'The Snow Queen' by Mardi McConnochie

May 2003, no. 251 01 May 2003
When I was about ten, I used to devour the books of an English children’s author named Noel Streatfield. The most famous was called Ballet Shoes, which took young antipodeans onto the stage and into the wings of another world, the London theatre scene. Galina Koslova, a Russian-born émigrée to South Australia and the heroine of The Snow Queen, gives Ballet Shoes to a step-granddaughter, correc ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Orpheus Lost' by Janette Turner Hospital

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
If the role of myth is to elaborate an unbearable truth so frequently and variously that its burden is made bearable, it is no wonder that the story of Orpheus and Eurydice exists in a multitude of retellings and a plethora of different versions on canvas, screen, stage and disc. Most of these remain faithful to its romantic-tragic paradigm: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy does not get her bac ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'The Fern Tattoo' by David Brooks

November 2007, no. 296 01 December 2007
In these litigious days, should I declare a tenuous bias in favour of David Brooks (whom I know not at all)? According to an extensive list of previous publications, which includes poetry, short fiction, essays and one earlier novel, he has devoted several editorial enterprises to the poet A.D. Hope. I too admired Hope, for his passionate admiration for Russian literature, which he sometimes lectu ... (read more)
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