Essays and Commentary

The appearance in 2014 of In Certain Circles, a new novel from Elizabeth Harrower, was an important literary event. The author, who still lives in Sydney, had published nothing since 1966 and had repeatedly maintained that she had nothing more to say. In Certain Circles had been ready for publication in 1971 ...

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It takes only five months for a newt to regrow a lost limb. Skittles and Tic Tacs both made public statements denouncing Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential race. Psychologists have learned that whenever we believe that a problem – like addiction, domestic abuse, or climate change – is intractable, our brains appear ...

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'Picnic at Hanging Rock fifty years on' by Marguerite Johnson

Marguerite Johnson
Friday, 24 November 2017

Far from being a flimsy, frilly story for women full of antique charm and middle-class manners, Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is a novel of sharp social observations and nuanced critique; subtle and sometimes latent sensuality; and layered, intricate allegory. The ‘shimmering summer morning warm and still’ brings the opposite to what it promises ...

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ABR RAFT Fellowship: 'If This Is a Jew' by Elisabeth Holdsworth

Elisabeth Holdsworth
Friday, 27 October 2017

For most of my life I have thought of myself as a secular Jew; fascinated by the turbulent history of the Jews, not part of synagogue life. All that changed in 2012. We were living in Goulburn, New South Wales, at the time. My husband was on the point of retirement and we were about to move back to Victoria. During winter ...

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Like Wonder Woman loping across a battlefield, arms raised, bracelets repelling bullets, Laurie Penny charges boldly into the culture wars. In Bitch Doctrine, we traverse trigger warnings, misogynistic trolls, sex work, commodity feminism, gender identity, transphobia, free speech, nerd entitlement, left-wing rape apologists ...

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Ashleigh Young is one of a number of writers currently distinguishing themselves as the latest generation to emerge from the creative writing program at Victoria University in Wellington. The course, founded by Bill Manhire in 1975, maintains the supply of excellence that attracted so much resentment as its ‘spectacular babies’ – from Barbara Anderson to Elean ...

'Beyond Songlines' by Philip Jones

Philip Jones
Thursday, 24 August 2017

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines, one of the most influential books about Australia to reach an international audience. It appeared just months after ...

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While it is true that the essay as a genre has a long and continuous history, it is not always an easy form to categorise or define. J.M. Coetzee has himself contrasted the ‘rather tight discourse’ of criticism with the relative freedom of writing fiction. Indeed, essays – like those collected in this volume – require ‘slow reading’, a term derived from ...

In reviewing this broad retrospective of George Monbiot’s Guardian columns, How Did We Get Into This Mess?, it is difficult to focus solely on the actual content of those commentaries. Yes, we need to understand the problems that illustrate that central question – the clear mess we’re in. From Monbiot’s position, the symptoms range, impressively, from individual loneliness to the ecological disaster of sheep, from drone killings

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Traditional academic festschrifts often lack coherence and consistency, especially when the honorand’s former students and colleagues, as more or less duty-bound contributors, share little in common beyond that association ...

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