Non Fiction

This fascinating, complex book relies for its success on the simplest of ideas and methodologies. Its publication was the necessary and inevitable follow-on from the hugely successful BBC Radio 4 series, when, over twenty weeks, British Museum (BM) director Neil MacGregor presented short, daily radio commentaries ...

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As people around the world watch events in the United States, many will agree that it is indeed an exceptional, if conflicted, nation. The sole superpower, with the world’s largest economy and the most powerful military ever known, is hugely in debt, and struggles agonisingly just to produce a federal budget ...

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The title of this new book on the Vietnam War comes from the final verse cycle of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (1869). As Arthur lies dying, he reflects ‘that we / Shall never more ... Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds’. This Arthurian borrowing for the title of a book about an obscure battle fought by Australians in Vietnam during the 19 ...

Nicholas Thomas’s principal purposes in this study are to show, first, that the peoples of the Pacific were neither incurious about the world beyond their islands, nor lacking in the emotional or imaginative means to apprehend cultures different from their own. Even before the coming of European maritime discoverers ...

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Shirley Walker reviews 'Nine Lives'

Shirley Walker
Wednesday, 04 May 2011

Susan Sheridan’s Nine Lives, a ‘group biography’, analyses the life stories and literary achievements of nine Australian women writers. The purpose, according to Sheridan, is not only to rediscover the life story of each, but also, by exploring their publishing and aesthetic context, to create a ‘fresh configuration’ of our literary history.

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One of Angelina Jolie’s first starring roles was as Shakespeare’s Juliet in Love Is All There Is (1996). Or rather, she plays Gina Malacici, a Bronx schoolgirl fiercely protected from life by her wealthy, restaurant-owning Italian parents, recruited to play Juliet in the school play when the leading actress injures herself falling off the balcony. Faced ...

David Throsby reviews 'Piracy'

David Throsby
Wednesday, 04 May 2011

When members of the rock band Men at Work recorded their legendary hit ‘Down Under’ in the early 1980s, they wanted to inject a stronger sense of Australianness into the song, so they included a flute riff of a few bars echoing the classic Australian children’s chorus ‘Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree’, just as one might, in a different geographical con ...

Roy Porter wrote that ‘the portrait (above all the self-portrait), the diary and the biography (especially the autobiography) – reveal heightened perceptions of individuality, the proud ego vaunting and flaunting his own being’. This may be so, but self-portraiture is a genre that crosses many secret thresholds ...

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It’s the voice, isn’t it, of a master, so unmistakably in command of a music that is inseparable from the personal modesty that is its signature, which belies all grandeur and refuses to take credit for the gift but has it nonetheless in abundance. When Craig Sherborne read the last poem in this Selected Poems ...

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Lacking a titled aristocracy and the leisured class that went with it, Australian colonial society encouraged an egalitarianism of manners. This, however, did not reflect the absence of social stratification: rather, as it has been argued, it was a means of being reconciled to it in a new setting ...

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