Literary Studies

Outwardly safe, aristocratic, and uncontroversial, the English country house seems suitably benign coffee-table material to leaf through on a drowsy Sunday afternoon. However, while the story of the English country house is certainly steeped in nostalgia and privilege, it is also a narrative of exclusion, exploitation, and decline. Geoffrey G. Hiller engages with ea ...

John Arnold reviews 'Blockbuster' by Lucy Sussex

John Arnold
Wednesday, 26 August 2015

In Blockbuster! Lucy Sussex deftly relates the story of Fergus Hume and his great Melbourne detective novel, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. First published in 1886, it has never been out of print and has been translated into many languages and a ...

Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003) is the most widely celebrated proponent of a post-boom form of literature from the Southern Cone region of Latin America (Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay), which is characterised by cohesive yet complex narrative worlds. Hailing from a country that endured repressive and vi ...

Colin Steele reviews 'Where I'm Reading From' by Tim Parks

Colin Steele
Wednesday, 26 August 2015

British novelist, translator, and critic, Tim Parks, based in Italy since 1981, is well credentialled to examine the changing world of books. Parks says, however, that while he wanted to comment on ‘writing itself, and reading, and books’, he didn’t want to do it ‘in a precious way’.

In Where I’m Reading From, Parks is ...

Few, if any, contemporary authors have attracted the level of critical attention that is lavished upon J.M. Coetzee. No doubt there are many reasons for this, but a good part of the fascination with his fiction is a result of the evident rigour with which it is conceived. To read a Coetzee novel is to encounter a work that seems to have ...

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'Curiosity' by Alberto Manguel

Andrea Goldsmith
Wednesday, 26 August 2015

There are two broad approaches to reading Alberto Manguel’s Curiosity. The first type of reader will study the book – or rather, the text – assiduously connecting the personal narratives that introduce each chapter with the books Manguel references in the more theoretical and discursive aspects that follow. Dante’ ...

My copy of The Suburbs of Hell (1984) is a handsome Heinemann first edition salvaged, like so many treasures, from a remainder tray. The dust jacket features a golden hourglass and type on a sky-blue ground: the colours Fra Angelico favoured for the vaults of heaven. A travel card that served as my bookmark is still tucked away in its pages; the date-punch ...

James McNamara reviews 'Penguin and the Lane Brothers'

James McNamara
Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Penguin is synonymous with publishing: a firm of vast influence and market share, whose ‘Classics’ imprint essentially arbitrates the modern canon. The founding myth goes something like this: Allen Lane, eccentric genius and publisher, was standing on a railway platform after a weekend with his chum, Agatha Christie. In want of a decent, cheap read, he visited a ...

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Thea Astley' by Karen Lamb

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Monday, 24 August 2015

‘If there are going to be any more of her novels, perhaps we should come right out and promote her as an utter bitch?’

So wrote Alec Bolton, the London manager of Angus & Robertson, to his senior editor John Abernethy in Sydney. The novelist in question was Thea Astley, and the book was A Boat Load of Home Folk (1968). Bol ...

The missing novels: our critics nominate some overlooked classics

Debra Adelaide et al.
Monday, 24 August 2015

Early success is no guarantee of a book’s continued availability or circulation. Some major and/or once-fashionable authors recede from public consciousness, and in some cases go out of print. We invited some writers and critics to identity novelists who they feel should be better known.