Essays and Commentary

'‘A new garment throughout’: The future of dictionaries in the digital age' by Sarah Ogilvie

Sarah Ogilvie
21 January 2012
We are on the verge of another revolution in dictionary-making. Since the seventeenth century there have been three major revolutions in lexicographic practice. In 1604 Robert Cawdrey produced the first monolingual English dictionary, which was – radically – arranged alphabetically. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson employed literary citations to illus ... More

'Alpha and Omega' Nathan Hollier on the establishment of Monash University Publishing

Nathan Hollier
23 December 2011

 On 8 September 2010, in the foyer of the Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University, beneath the beautiful ‘Alpha and Omega’ stained-glass window created by Leonard French and connoting humankind’s endless striving for achievement, Monash University ePress became Monash University Publishing. It was very appropriate that the press should be launched by B ... More

Margaret Harris and Fiona Morrison on 'The Man Who Loved Children' and 'Letty Fox' by Christina Stead

Margaret Harris and Fiona Morrison
27 September 2011

Christina Stead is an author perennially ripe for rediscovery. Her acknowledged masterpiece, The Man Who Loved Children, came out originally in 1940; in 2005, it figured in Time’s list of the 100 best novels published since 1923. But in his introduction to the Miegunyah Modern Library edition of the novel, American novelist Jonathan Franzen cites ... More

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 reviews 'Sempre Susan' by Sigrid Nunez and 'Swimming in a Sea of Death' by David Rieff

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

'Hautes Fenêtres: Thoughts on the place of translation in recent Australian poetry' by Simon West

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

'The divine stenographer: Victor Hugo and the glory of narrative' by Brian Nelson

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

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