Literary Studies

Alexander Howard reviews 'English as a Vocation'

Alexander Howard
Thursday, 28 November 2013

Christopher Hilliard’s meticulously researched and richly detailed English as a Vocation: The Scrutiny Movement opens with a historical anecdote regarding an after-hours, postwar negotiation ‘between literary analysis and popular culture’ undertaken in that most evocative of English holiday destinations: Scarborough. In these opening lines, ...

Ian Donaldson reviews 'Shakespeare Beyond Doubt'

Ian Donaldson
Thursday, 28 November 2013

It was not until the middle years of the nineteenth century, so far as we can tell, that anyone seriously doubted that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon called William Shakespeare had written the plays that for the past two and a half centuries had passed without question under his name. In the early 1850s, however, a private scholar from Connecticut named Deli ...

Susan Lever reviews 'Telling Stories'

Susan Lever
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Telling Stories is a great brick of a book full of diverting bits and pieces about Australian culture over the past seventy-seven years. It is hugely entertaining – a sort of QIin book form, with seventy-nine authors offering their brief observations on aspects of Australian cultural life. No one will read it cover to ...

Steven Carroll on T.S Eliot in 'Tarantula's Web'

Steven Carroll
Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Private Eye said of Stephen Spender that he wasn’t so much famous as that he knew a lot of famous people. They might have said the same of John Hayward. His editorial and scholarly work notwithstanding, it’s doubtful that a biography of him would have been written had it not been for his close friendship with the premier poet of ...

Ian Donaldson reviews 'Shakespeare’s Restless World'

Ian Donaldson
Tuesday, 27 August 2013

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 Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945'

Alexander Howard
Thursday, 27 June 2013

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 ...

Christopher Allen on 'Confronting the Classics'

Christopher Allen
Monday, 27 May 2013

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 ...

Ros Pesman reviews 'From a Distant Shore'

Ros Pesman
Monday, 27 May 2013

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 ...

Paul Morgan reviews 'Shirley Hazzard'

Paul Morgan
Sunday, 26 May 2013

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 ...

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Desert Passions'

Alison Broinowski
Sunday, 28 April 2013

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 ...