This is how Claire Tomalin closes her Dickens biography: ‘He left a trail like a meteor, and everyone finds their own version of Charles Dickens’, followed by a long list of types. I consider Dickens the surrealist, or thesentimentalist, but then I pick Dickens the tireless walker. And I concede, with Tomalin, that regarding h ...
For long after World War II, particular opprobrium was reserved for the statesmen who failed to resist the belligerent dictators. Their failure was denounced in the popular tract Guilty Men, which appeared in 1940 soon after Hitler overran Western Europe, leaving Britain to fight on alone ...... (read more)
As of writing, Australia has six living ex-prime ministers – not quite a record. Of these, one, of course, is still in parliamentary harness, and may still aspire to the top job. Of the remaining five, all but one have provided us with voluminous accounts of their stewardship ...... (read more)
It is a brave undertaking to write a single-volume history of World War II. As Max Hastings notes, we already have many good books in this category: Weinberg, A World At Arms: A Global History of World War II (1994); Calvocoressi, Wint, and Pritchard, Total War: The Causes and Courses of the Second World War (1989); Millett and Murray, A War To ...
I first discovered Australian literature in Argentina. While I was there studying Argentinian literature at the University of Buenos Aires in 2009–10, I spent many nights hunched over the table in our dingy kitchen with one of my housemates, Teresa. We would pick over the politically infused vernacular of the short stories ...... (read more)
Simon Leys is the pen name of the distinguished academic Pierre Ryckmans, who came to notice, first as a sinologist, then as a critic and author. The essays in this collection, composed over more than three decades during which Ryckmans held appointments at the Australian National University and the University of Sydney, cover a wide range of subjects ...... (read more)
Henry Reynolds is the pre-eminent historian of Aboriginal–settler relations in Australia, and with this theme he begins his history of Tasmania. He eschews the obligatory set piece description of Aboriginal society before the Europeans arrived, with which so many books now awkwardly commence ...... (read more)
Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Premier and the Pastoralist: William Morgan and Peter Waite' by James Waite
Family histories have their limitations. One compensation is to discover famous or infamous ancestors. In most Australian states, disinterring a convict becomes a badge of honour. In South Australia, having a nineteenth-century premier and a noted pastoralist in one’s lineage advances a claim to fame ...... (read more)
As contemporary author fan bases go, Margaret Atwood’s must be among the broadest. She is read at crèches, on university campuses, and in nursing homes. Feminists, birders, and would-be writers jostle to see her perform at literary festivals. Yet despite an Arthur C. Clarke Award and, in her own words ...... (read more)
New Zealand coins often sneak into Australian purses. Both currencies bear the queen’s, and some coins have common colonial symbols on the front (Cook’s Endeavour on the Kiwi fifty cent, for example), but these coins only work by stealth. They have value if they can pass as Australian. Recognised for what they are – foreign objects – their currency evaporates ...... (read more)