Non Fiction

The Gillard Governments

Lyndon Megarrity
30 April 2014

The prime ministership of Julia Gillard attracted an immense amount of media attention, not least because of the novelty of a female leader aspiring to embody the values and dreams of the Australian people. As opposition to her policies and style grew, Gillard as the government figurehead was at times subjected to extremist protests that used her gender as a weapon. ...

The new biography of Jonathan Swift

Robert Phiddian
30 April 2014

Twelve years after Swift’s death, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu showed a visitor to her house in Venice a commode lined with books by Pope, Bolingbroke, and Swift. This, she explained, ‘gave her the satisfaction of shitting on them every day’. We still don’t know exactly what it was that caused her to fall out with Swift, Pope, and their friends in the 1720s, bu ...

Valuing the Humanities

Colin Steele
29 April 2014

Helen Small, Professor of English at Pembroke College, Oxford, adopts a pragmatic and non-polemical approach in addressing The Value of the Humanities. This topic has been much debated recently as political and economic pressures on universities and funding agencies have led to an alleged devaluation of the humanities.

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Iris Murdoch and Brian Medlin

Jane Sullivan
29 April 2014

If you’re a bookish type of a certain age, chances are you went through your Iris Murdoch period. You binged on novels such as The Black Prince (1973) and The Sea, The Sea (1978); you immersed yourself in her world of perplexed, agonised souls searching for meaning, falling disastrously in love with absurdly wrong people, consoling themselves with a ...

Well, it’s Moby-Dick, obviously. Except when it’s Huckleberry Finn or Absalom, Absalom! or Invisible Man or Gravity’s Rainbow. The Great Gatsby will often do, if one is pressed for time.

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Michael Ignatieff Learns from Defeat

Glyn Davis
29 April 2014

Knowledge gained through academic life is no preparation for political practice. So found Michael Ignatieff, the distinguished Canadian historian and public intellectual. In October 2004 he was teaching at Harvard University when approached by ‘three men in black’. These Liberal Party power brokers suggested Ignatieff leave the classroom and run for office. F ...

Some obsessions, present from the start, infiltrate a writer’s pages to the degree that they become synonymous with his body of work. This reaches beyond preoccupation and setting to include matters of style and sensibility. Such a combination allows the reader to discern, often in the space of a single sentence, one writer’s DNA from another’s. We return to c ...

Kevin Brophy's Walking

Peter Kenneally
29 April 2014

Melbourne often seems an indeterminate place, with one flat suburb leaching into another. Writers tend to use place as local colour, the places themselves having little to say, in most cases. Kevin Brophy is an exception, and, especially in this ‘new and selected’ collection, a revelatory one. John Leonard have done great work in putting so many of Brophy’s po ...

The love song of Henry and Olga

Ann-Marie Priest
28 April 2014

On an early spring evening in 1919, in a nearly empty cinema in the English seaside town of Lyme Regis, a slight, dark-haired figure slipped into a seat at the farthest edge of a row. From here, she would have a clear view of the profile of the youthful pianist who, sheltered behind a screen, accompanied the silent film. In white tie and tails, with her fair hair sl ...

Tasmania is a small place with a rich historiography. Two themes in particular have intrigued historians and novelists since the nineteenth century and have appealed to film-makers and artists in more recent times. The fate of the Aborigines and the convict system which dominated society from 1803 to 1853 ...

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