Essays and Commentary

Now They've Gone

Colin Nettelbeck
24 October 2012
An imperfectly remembered life is a useless treachery.
Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna

When my American mother-in-law died, the world financial markets went into a tail-spin. Melba was her name; her own mother, who migrated from Italy to New England in the late nineteenth century, was an oper ... More

Kerry Kilner on AustLit resource

Kerry Kilner
24 October 2012

After twelve years of building a vast online database of information about Australian literary culture, the consortium of universities responsible for the AustLit resource has decided that it is time for a major makeover. By the end of the year, AustLit will have a new look and will offer new ways of interacting with audience ... More

Jennifer Lindsay's essay: 'Man on the Margins'

Jennifer Lindsay
26 September 2012

‘If Indonesia were a person,’ a good friend in Jakarta said to me, ‘it would be Goenawan.’ I know what she means. There is nothing black and white about him. He is a complex man, multi-faceted, charming and exasperating, full of conviction and contradiction, at once deeply patriotic and critical of his nation (which was born just five years after he was), so ... More

Jane Goodall: Remembering Robert Hughes (1938–2012)

Jane Goodall
30 August 2012

When Gore Vidal died a few weeks ago, his publisher issued a statement calling him the last survivor of a postwar crop of American literary giants. ‘It is hard to think of another … who cut as dashing and visible a figure in various public realms,’ said Vidal’s Doubleday editor, Gerald Howard. Less than a week later the obituary columns were taken over by ju ... More

Patrick White in Adelaide

David Marr
24 April 2012

By the time I found him twenty-five years ago in the Adelaide Hills, Glen McBride was old, tiny, spry, and ready to boast about his career. I doubt many readers have heard of this little man or know of his pivotal role in the literature of this country. That’s what had me knocking at his door. And though he disowned none of it in the hours we spent ranging over hi ... More

Robert Dessaix's Seymour Lecture: Pushing against the dark

Robert Dessaix
20 March 2012

If you’re a theatregoer, then somewhere along the line you’re bound to have seen The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol’s comedy about a rapacious nobody being mistaken for a government official by the citizens of a nameless provincial backwater. (They too are nobodies, greedy to be somebodies.) You might remember (since it’s a line that will ... More

Sonya Hartnett revisits 'A Difficult Young Man' by Martin Boyd

Sonya Hartnett
27 February 2012

Few writers, it could be argued, have ever cannibalised life for their art as ruthlessly and consistently as did Martin Boyd; and few are born into situations which lend themselves so readily to art. Boyd’s working life – indeed, much of his entire existence – was spent trying to unite the past with the present, the old world with the new, himself with the man ... More

Morag Fraser: 'Fear and loathing in American politics'

Morag Fraser
23 January 2012

The Princeton Post Office, as befits this famed university town, has a certain grandeur. It is small – Princeton is a village after all – and modest in its proportions, but grand in aspiration. As you step through its panelled doors your gaze is drawn by the long parade of milk-glass and bronze lights towards the mural that adorns the far wall. Like the White Ho ... 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

Christina Stead: The Man Who Loved Children; and Christina Stead: Letty Fox

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

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