'Some of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres - from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches - the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.
'The writing reflects the diverse experiences of Australians in their encounter with their extraordinary environment and with themselves. This is literature of struggle, conflict and creative survival. It is literature of lives lived at the extremes, of frontiers between cultures, of new dimensions of experience, where imagination expands.
'This rich, informative and entertaining collection charts the formation of an Australian voice that draws inventively on Indigenous words, migrant speech and slang, with a cheeky, subversive humour always to the fore. For the first time, Aboriginal writings are interleaved with other English-language writings throughout - from Bennelong's 1796 letter to the contemporary flowering of Indigenous fiction and poetry - setting up an exchange that reveals Australian history in stark new ways.
'From vivid settler accounts to haunting gothic tales, from raw protest to feisty urban satire and playful literary experiment, from passionate love poetry to moving memoir, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature reflects the creative eloquence of a society.
'Chosen by a team of expert editors, who have provided illuminating essays about their selections, and with more than 500 works from over 300 authors, it is an authoritative survey and a rich world of reading to be enjoyed.' (Publisher's blurb)
Allen and Unwin have a YouTube channel with a number of useful videos on the Anthology.
Patrick White, Composer Manqué : The Centrality of Music in White's Artistic AspirationJohn Carmody,
2015single work criticism — Appears in:
12015;(p. 153-161)'Australian writer Patrick White was burdened with the reputation of a misanthrope. This was, perhaps, self-inflicted but it allowed many to disregard the sensitivity and insights of his writing. It is nevertheless surprising that most critics and readers seem unaware of his deep engagement with music. Certainly, few (if any) literary critics appear to recognize the significance of music in his output. Here, Carmody contends that not only was music profoundly important to White as a human being, but that it fundamentally drove his work. Without a recognition of this crucial importance of music, it is impossible to understand adequately White's aesthetic aspiration.' (Publication abstract)
Cultural CreepNick Bryant,
2012single work criticism — Appears in:
362012;(p. 118-131)'TODAY it would be called a reality show, but in the early 1950s the Australian Broadcasting Commission's Incognito was billed as light entertainment. Alas, no recording of the radio program survives in the corporation's vast audio archive. Nor does it earn a mention in Ken Inglis's two-volume authorised history of the ABC. Yet Incognito is one of the most influential programs the national broadcaster has ever put to air, if only because it caught the ear of the Melbourne-based critic AA Phillips. The idea, thought Phillips, was quaint enough: to pit a local artist against a foreign guest, with the audience asked to adjudicate. Occasionally, listeners would favour the home-grown performer, thus producing 'a nice glow of patriotic satisfaction'. The program, however, was founded on the belittling premise that 'the domestic product will be worse than the imported article.' Phillips coined a neat description for this 'disease of the Australian mind' and immediately his aphorism, described in a 1950 Meanjin essay of the same name, took hold: 'the cultural cringe'.' (Author's introduction)
Reconfiguring Australia's Literary Canon : Antipodean Cultural TectonicsSalhia Ben-Messahel,
2011single work criticism — Appears in:
12011;(p. 77-91)'This paper shows how an Australian community imagined by the European continent has evolved to become more inclusive of otherness, be it in the form of non-Anglo-Australian cultures, Australian regional cultures, or a significant Indigenous culture intimately linked to the land. In this process, which is comparable to tectonic shifts, some Australian authors have attempted, within a 21st-century global village, to map intercultural spaces that reveal a pervasive sense of emptiness and the uncanny.' (Author's abstract)
‘A Heart That Could be Strong and True’ : Kenneth Cook’s Wake in Fright as Queer InteriorMonique Rooney,
2011single work criticism — Appears in:
12011;(p. 1-15)'In ' "A heart that could be strong and true": Kenneth Cook's Wake in Fright as queer
interior' Monique Rooney presents a compelling reading of the complicated relations
between self and other, interior and exterior, in the iconic, troubling text of Wake in
Fright. Her discussion focuses on the play of aurality and lyricism in the novel's
account of outsider relations, and proposes a reading that draws on Michael
Snediker's 'emphasis on a potentially joyful Freud' in classic accounts of queer
melancholy in order to attend to what she determines is a 'critique of processes of
masculinist dis-identification' in the novel. This important discussion works to
reanimate critical consideration not only of a significant and neglected text, but also
of broader debates around the reach and nature of metropolitan subjectivities in post-
WWII literature in Australia.' (Source: Introduction : Archive Madness, p. 3)