Literary Studies

Reading Australia: 'Journey to the Stone Country' by Alex Miller

Morag Fraser
20 May 2015

There is no recommended apprenticeship for writers. Nor are there any prescribed personal or professional qualifications. Hermits, obsessives, insurance clerks, customs officers, women who embroider, men who write letters, public servants, soldiers, drunks, provincial doctors and gulag inmates have all become great writers. How? A mystery. But avidity – about the ... More

Penny Gay reviews 'The Hidden Jane Austen' by John Wiltshire

Penny Gay
30 April 2015

John Wiltshire, the distinguished Austen scholar based at La Trobe University, has produced his fourth book on Jane Austen since 1992. Here, in a return to the critical bedrock of close reading, he invites us to share his pursuit of the ‘hidden’ Jane Austen ... More

Book reviewing and its provocateurs: 'What single development would most improve the Australian critical culture?'

Patrick Allington et al.
27 April 2015

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

Brenda Walker reviews 'Shirley Hazzard' edited by Brigitta Olubas

Brenda Walker
26 March 2015

Shirley Hazzard is probably the most elegantly polished writer in the Australian canon: her novels and stories use traditional structures with great assurance, she writes from a thoughtful moral position, she is outspokenly engaged with the fine and the less fine elements of the Australia she once lived in, and she can be dry and funny. She spent most of her life in ... More

Mark Byron reviews 'The Most Dangerous Book' by Kevin Birmingham

Mark Byron
02 March 2015

Ulysses was the first novel to become a celebrity in the mass media age. Its reputation was ‘enhanced’ by its alleged scurrility, its banning in the Anglophone world in both serial and book form, its having engendered legal proceedings centred on obscenity and copyright, and its notoriety as a wilfully difficult text. James Joyce wrote a novel that aspire ... More

Ian Donaldson reviews 'William Shakespeare and Others' edited by Jonathan Bate et al.

Ian Donaldson
16 December 2014

Shakespeare was commonly regarded by his Romantic admirers as a solitary figure, whose prodigious talents were linked in some mysterious fashion to his isolation from society and from his fellow writers. ‘Shakespeare,’ wrote Coleridge in 1834, ‘is of no age – nor, I might add, of any religion, or party, or profession. The body and substance of his works came ... More

James McNamara reviews 'Political Animal: Gore Vidal on Power' by Heather Neilson

James McNamara
26 November 2014

American writer Gore Vidal was an intimate of political power. His grandfather was a US senator; his father served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Director of Air Commerce. When his mother re More

Ian Dickson reviews 'Tennessee Williams' bu John Lahr

Ian Dickson
25 November 2014

For a man who has repeatedly been described as America’s greatest playwright, Tennessee Williams’s reputation has fluctuated as wildly as his notorious mood swings. In the decade after the war he was celebrated. ‘Mr. Williams is the man of our time who comes closest to hurling the actual blood and bone of life onto the stage,’ wrote Walter Kerr of the first ... More

Brenda Walker reviews 'Alex Miller' by Robert Dixon

Brenda Walker
24 November 2014

We do nothing alone,’ writes Alex Miller, in his brief memoir ‘The Mask of Fiction’, where he gives an account of the generative processes of his writing. Art, according to Miller, comes from the capacity of the writer to ‘see ourselves as the other’. Early in his career, Miller’s friend Max Blatt woke him, in his farmhouse at Araluen, in order to dismis ... More

Dennis Haskell reviews 'An Unsentimental Bloke'

Dennis Haskell
24 September 2014

Now and again it is good to remind ourselves that literary history (and I think the history of the other arts) is strewn with the names of those who had great stature in their own time and are now largely forgotten, and with the names of others for whom the reverse is true. William Blake, short of money, went to work for the much more admired poet William Hayley. Th ... More

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