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Literary Studies

The humanities are currently experiencing what’s been called a ‘material turn’ that is in some ways comparable to the linguistic turn that animated the academy half a century ago. Then it was language that commanded attention, and appeared to constitute a primary ‘reality’; now the focus is on physical objects, and what they can tell us about the wor ...

The scene: a cold, bright January day in the snow-covered capital of the United States. The occasion: the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Up to the podium steps America’s unofficial poet laureate, eighty-six-year-old Robert Frost. Temporarily blinded by the glare of brilliant sunshine and freshly fallen snow, Frost sets aside the handwritten te ...

When Confucius was asked by his disciples how they should become wise, he would enjoin them to study the classics; over two millennia later and much closer to home, Winckelmann declared that it was only by imitating the supreme masterpieces of the Greeks that we too might one day become inimitable – putting his finger on the paradox that the greatest originality a ...

From the earliest days of white settlement, Australians have made the voyage to Britain. Many stayed for long periods and some forever. Prominent among the more permanent residents were writers, prominent not only in terms of numbers but also because it was they who in large part created the stories and legends of Australians abroad. Some left without regret, lambas ...

The cover of Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire shows a vast and terrible conflagration. Flames reach high into the sky, devouring the air and seeming to set the wide river alight. In the distance, an eerily familiar pair of ghostly towers rises above the smoke. In the foreground, tiny human figures move around as a boat sets off towards the fire, perhaps in ...

I once fell out with an intelligent, well-read woman who refused to believe me when I said I had never read a Mills & Boon book. I should perhaps have admitted that the job I had as a student, proofreading stacks of popular novels for an Adelaide publisher, put me off them for life. Now I am grateful to Hsu-Ming Teo for educating me so thoroughly on romantic fic ...

An unsuspecting reader might guess that this book belongs to the disreputable genre of psychobiography. Beginning with Sigmund Freud’s analysis of Leonardo da Vinci (1910), which explored themes of unconscious homosexuality and maternal attachment, biographers have attempted to make sense of individual lives with the aid of psychological theory, most often of a ps ...

As a reader, teacher, and scholar of Australian literature, I applaud any initiative directed towards increasing readers’ understanding of, and engagement with, Australian writing. Geordie Williamson’s The Burning Library sets out to achieve that goal. Through a mix of biography and literary review, Williamson seeks to recuperate the work and reputation o ...

I nitially banned in Australia, Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) is Philip Roth’s early, bestselling, satirical tour de force. Alexander Portnoy addresses a long monologue to his analyst, Dr Spielvogel. Among other things, the monologue tackles Portnoy’s erotic and ethical shortcomings, lingering in particular over his father’s familial and economic emascul ...

Victorian Bloomsbury by Rosemary Ashton

by
November 2012, no. 346

‘Victorian Bloomsbury’ appears to be a contradiction in terms. ‘Bloomsbury’, as in ‘the Bloomsbury Group’, is shorthand for the group of writers, artists, and thinkers including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Maynard Keynes, who gathered in the area of central London between Euston Road and Holborn in the early deca ...