Essays and Commentary

Chris Flynn and Peter Carey on the challenging times for mid-list authors

Chris Flynn
26 September 2011

British author Glen Duncan released his eighth novel this year, the title of which, The Last Werewolf, is fairly self-explanatory. Although a much more philosophical (and entertaining) read than one might imagine in our current supernaturally-dominated ‘box-office’ novel landscape, Duncan’s book was a marked departure from an author better known for h ... More

Peter Rose: 'In the ring with Susan Sontag'

Peter Rose
23 August 2011

In her short memoir of Susan Sontag, novelist Sigrid Nunez claims that she did not read the obituaries and commentaries after her death in 2004, and that she was never much interested in what other people said about Sontag. If it’s true, she is indeed a rara avis. Susan Sontag, in death as in life, generates enormous interest and a growing literature, one that pro ... More

Thoughts on the place of translation in recent Australian poetry

Simon West
29 June 2011

In a 1995 interview for the Paris Review, Ted Hughes was asked if the 1960s boom in translated poetry, particularly with series such as the Penguin Modern European Poets, had influenced poetry written in England. ‘Has it modified the British tradition!’ he replied. ‘Everything is now completely open, every approach, with infinite possibilities. Obviou ... More

Victor Hugo and the glory of narrative

Brian Nelson
29 June 2011

For many of his contemporaries, Victor Hugo (1802–85) was the most important literary figure of the nineteenth century. He was considered the greatest French poet; he became the leader of the Romantic movement with the staging of his anti-classical play Hernani (1830); and he wrote monumental, hugely popular novels. He was also an iconic political figure. ... More

2011 Calibre Prize (winner): 'Who Killed Matilda?'

Moira McKinnon
28 June 2011

I am a doctor. Once I was a doctor of individuals, now I am a ‘doctor of populations’. Population health is about actions to improve the health of communities, nations, and the world. Challenges are many: the mobility and density of populations, contemporary desires and pressures, the safety of food in complex systems, poverty, the immense power of big businesse ... More

Patrick Allington questions ‘What is Australia, anyway?’

Patrick Allington
24 May 2011
‘Arran Avenue, Hamilton, Brisbane, Australia ... Why Australia? What is Australia, anyway?’ 
(Dante, in David Malouf’s Johnno)

Some footy talk before the book chat: I saw Wayne Carey play once, in Adelaide. He was a puppeteer that day. You would have needed a panoramic view – television doesn’t capture ... More

The biographer’s contract

Frances Spalding
06 May 2011

The business of authoring another person’s life is problematic and potentially dangerous. You need to be brave to write biography. It is not just the labour involved, or the obsessive research involving more travel and hours of work than can be deemed cost-effective; it also requires a self-exposing judiciousness. At every stage in the procedure decisions are made ... More

Joel Deane: Julian Assange against the world

Joel Deane
27 April 2011

On 30 July 2010, WikiLeaks uploaded a file named ‘insurance.aes256’ to the Internet. The file was 1.4 gigabytes in size – large enough to hold a mountain of leaked documents – and encrypted with a 256-character key strong enough to have the US National Security Agency’s approval for use to secure classified documents. It was also copied to dozens of USB st ... More

Colin Golvan: The new electronic order

Colin Golvan
21 April 2011

If developments in relation to music and the Internet are any guide, writers and publishers will increasingly be addressing the opportunities for self-management on the Internet. For writers, there is a well-established path for sharing copyright works without charge. This is known as the Creative Commons, which publishes ... More

2011 Calibre Prize (Winner): The Death of the Writer

Dean Biron
20 April 2011

In February 1878 in Marseilles, France, Józef Teodor Konrad Nałęcz Korzeniowski, a twenty-year-old Polish seafarer tormented by depression, lifted a revolver to his chest and pulled the trigger. The suicide attempt failed: the bullet, whether by chance or design, penetrated the young man’s body without disrupting any vital organ. Korzeniowski recovered quickly ... More

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