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 b More
Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia More
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 ...More
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 ... More
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 ... More
Book reviewing and its provocateurs: 'What single development would most improve the Australian critical culture?'
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 ... More
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 ... More
Happy Valley is the first of Patrick White’s novels and it is a consistently compelling book, as well as the exhilarating performance of a great writer in the making. Everyone knows the legend, rooted in truth: that Patrick White finds his voice as a consequence of the war and after discovering the love of his life in Manoly Lascaris; and that the first i ... More
No statues for critics
I am sorry that Judith Armstrong should have such difficulty following my point that criticism is in some sense bound to fail because it is a secondary exercise (October 2010). It was Bartók, I think, who remarked that no one ever erected a statue in honour of ... More
It’s the voice, isn’t it, of a master, so unmistakably in command of a music that is inseparable from the personal modesty that is its signature, which belies all grandeur and refuses More