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The Miegunyah Press

With My Grandfather’s Clock: Four centuries of a British-Australian family, historian Graeme Davison has offered his readers and bequeathed to his grandchildren a very special book, at once genealogy, travelogue, memoir, broad social history, and a meditation on the sources of personal identity. It is a book to be treasured. 

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Lohrey by Julieanne Lamond

September 2022, no. 446

The Labyrinth begins with a woman walking through her childhood home – a decommissioned asylum. In middle age she moves to a run-down house by a wild and dangerous sea, where she notes her vivid and prophetic dreams. The house is convenient because she needs to be close to her son, an imprisoned artist. She befriends a stonemason who offers to carve her a gargoyle (which she refuses). Together they design and build her version of a labyrinth, a prayer or meditation path most famously realised in the great medieval cathedral of Chartres, although Lohrey’s antipodean labyrinth is not a homage to the Chartres labyrinth, or an imitation.

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The name of Yorta Yorta elder William Cooper shines bright in the history of Aboriginal activism in Australia between the two world wars. It is linked with the formation of the Australian Aborigines’ League, of which he was the founding secretary; the Day of Mourning on the anniversary of white settlement in 1938; and a petition intended for George V, signed by almost 2,000 Aboriginal people and demanding Aboriginal representation in parliament. This last was perhaps Cooper’s most cherished project. He spent years gathering signatures and waiting for the most opportune moment to present it; his disappointment at the indifferent response of the Australian government darkened his final years.

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Though a generation has grown up with online technology, we are only just starting to grasp what it means for our understanding of humanity. As a historian, I’m surprised to find that I can now trace the emotional and intellectual experience of individuals, through long periods of their lives, with a new kind of completeness. Fragments of detail from all over the place, gathered with ease, can be used to build up inter-connected portraits of real depth. A new inwardness, a richer kind of subjectivity, takes shape as a result.

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With Tim Burstall’s death in 2004, Australia lost a key figure in the rebirth of a distinctive and energetic national film industry. While critics disdained his rough ocker populism, Burstall’s Stork (1971), Alvin Purple (1973), and Petersen (1974) were significant commercial successes and demonstrated the viability of a product willing to show Australians to themselves. Burstall argued that a film industry without artistic standards was undesirable, but that so too was an industry cut off from market considerations.

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