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Christopher Lee

Though he had already produced two volumes of poetry, Roger McDonald first came to popular attention with his spectacular début novel, 1915, published in 1979. A recreation of the Gallipoli Campaign from the points of view of two ...

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Seasons of War is a fictional firsthand account of the Allied invasion of Gallipoli. Opposite the title page, the blurb suggests that it offers ‘the kind of truth that only fiction can’: what it felt like to be there, and how being there transformed the Australian nation (a contention which belongs, truly, to fiction).


The title, cover and blurb of this collection of essays, articles and interviews promote it as a sequel to editor Paul Adams’s literary biography of Frank Hardy, The Stranger from Melbourne (2000). The invocation of the iconic writer, communist and media personality’s formidable reputation should ensure reasonable sales, but it is to the detriment of the book’s internal logic and thrust that Adams and his co-editor, Christopher Lee, underplay the contribution of other communist writers of his era. Several chapters in the book do focus on the work of Jean Devanny, Dorothy Hewett, Katharine Susannah Prichard and Ruth Park, but (in a manner similar to how their works were dismissed in their own time) the prioritisation of Hardy as the definitive communist writer ensures that they play second fiddle.

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Authority and Influence: Australian literary criticism, 1950–2000 edited by Delys Bird, Robert Dixon and Christopher Lee

May 2001, no. 230

The problems that have bedevilled Australian literary criticism and literary history over the last twenty years have been worldwide. Histories, even quite short ones, now have to be written polyphonically, by committees of dozens of contributors. It is taken for granted that no single person could cover the whole field and the variety of critical perspectives, movements, genres, institutions and ideologies involved. One of the recurrent phrases of recent years has been ‘pushing the boundaries’; but histories, surveys, theses, articles all depend on demarcation lines. That is why the notion of a ‘canon’ has been useful, though, of course, a canon needs to be constantly questioned and revised so as not to become stagnant and restrictive.

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