Issue Details: First known date: 2006 2006
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

In this essay Inga Clendinnen looks at how Australia should record and regard its past while asking the question - what kind of history do Australians want and need? She discusses the Stolen Generations and the role of morality in history-writing and provides a critique of Kate Grenville's Secret River.

Notes

  • Correspondence relating to Clendinnen's essay is included in Quarterly Essay no. 24.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

The Frontier Wars : History and Fiction in Journey to the Stone Country and Landscape of Farewell Shirley Walker , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 156-169)
'There are some stories that must be told lest 'none be left to think of them and shed a tear' (Miller, Landscape, 12). The stories Alex Miller is concerned with in Journey to the Stone Country (2002) and Landscape of Farewell (2007) are those of the Aboriginal massacres which accompanied the invasion of Australia. But he also remind us, in Landscape of Farewell, of all such episodes of mass murder, including the Holocaust, but going back through history to the Trojan Wars and beyond. (Author's introduction 156)
Writing White, Writing Black, and Events at Canoe Rivulet Catherine McKinnon , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Courses , October vol. 16 no. 2 2012;
'How a community imagines the past contributes to the shaping of its present culture; influences that community's vision for the future. Yet much about the past can be difficult to access, as it can be lost or hidden. Therefore, when retelling first contact stories, especially when the documentary information is limited to a colonial perspective, how might a writer approach fictionalizing historical Indigenous figures? 'Will Martin' (2011), a tale written as part of my practice-led PhD, is a fictional retelling of the eighteenth century sailing trip, taken along the New South Wales coast, by explorers Matthew Flinders, George Bass, and Bass's servant, William Martin. This paper traces my attempts to discover how to approach fictionalizing the historical Indigenous figures that Flinders met. Examining how some non-Indigenous writers have appropriated Indigenous culture and investigating what some writers have said about non-Indigenous writers creating Indigenous characters, provided me with some guidelines. Interviews with Indigenous elders, and other members of the Illawarra community, helped me imagine the gaps in knowledge. In the fictional retelling, using unreliable narration to suggest there may be multiple stories around a single historical event, some of which we may never get to hear, became a useful narrative strategy.' (Author's abstract)
Bodies of Knowledge : History, Memory, Selves in Tiger's Eye Bernadette Brennan , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 26 no. 2 2012; (p. 209-214)
Archival Salvage : History’s Reef and the Wreck of the Historical Novel A. Frances Johnson , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue vol. 11 no. 1 2011; (p. 1-21)
'In recent years debates about the ethics of portraying Indigenous subjects and subject matter have almost been superseded by circular debates about 'true' Australian history and who has the right to tell it. This has been disappointing in a context of the morally and formally imaginative speculations of historians such as Tom Griffiths, Fiona Paisley, Stephen Kinnane and Greg Dening, and also in a context of Indigenous studies Professor Marcia Langton's evidently too-hopeful calls for the activation of a shared cultural space. But as this local debate has become more heated, more public, the oddest spectacle of all in recent years was the recent lambasting of historical novelists.

Novelist Kate Grenville was a particular target of attack. Notable historians such as Mark McKenna, John Hirst and Inga Clendinnen vociferously condemned dramatic accounts of the past as anachronistic, unethical and, most curious of all in relation to the fictioneer's job description, untrue. I revisit the 'history wars' stoush to argue that these historians overlooked the suasion of broader, local political battles to determine and culturally enshrine particular narratives of Australian pasts; I argue that they also eschewed the linguistic turn of postmodernism and the contributions made therein by prominent historical scholars in their own field such as Hayden White and Dominic LaCapra. The paper finally shows how Grenville, Kim Scott and other novelists have engaged with colonial archival materials, deploying particular narrative techniques that enable them to generate compelling postcolonial dramatisations of colonial pasts. (Author's abstract)
Taking / Taking Up: Recognition and the Frontier in Grenville's The Secret River Adam Gall , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue 2008; (p. 94-104)
'This article examines some aspects of the cultural politics of Kate Grenville's novel, The Secret River (2005), especially with respect to the problematic of Aboriginal and settler possession. Beginning with Grenville's own account, put forward in her writing memoir Searching for The Secret River (2006), and proceeding via the criticisms offered by historian Inga Clendinnen, the article is concerned with the position and operation of the frontier in contemporary settler-colonial culture in Australia. From this perspective, Grenville's novel is read critically as a literary reflection of that culture.' (Author's abstract)
When 'History Changes Who We Were' Alice Healy , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , vol. 23 no. 4 2008; (p. 481-488)

— Review of Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville 2006 single work criticism ; The History Question : Who Owns the Past? Inga Clendinnen 2006 single work essay ; Agamemnon's Kiss : Selected Essays Inga Clendinnen 2006 selected work essay ; Is History Fiction? Ann Curthoys John Docker 2005 single work criticism
Making a Fiction of History Jane Sullivan , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 21 October 2006; (p. 12-13)
'Novelist Kate Grenville has upset historians by claiming her Booker-shortlisted The Secret River is a new form of history writing.'
To Recover Our Past By Method, Not Make-Believe Tom Griffiths , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 21-22 October 2006; (p. 32-33)

— Review of The History Question : Who Owns the Past? Inga Clendinnen 2006 single work essay
Imaginative History Has a Fraction Too Much Fiction Inga Clendinnen , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian Magazine , 14-15 October 2006; (p. 62)
Who Owns the Past? Firing Shots in the Battle of the History Wars Thomas R. Frame , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 28 October 2006; (p. 14-15, 17)

— Review of The History Question : Who Owns the Past? Inga Clendinnen 2006 single work essay
To Recover Our Past By Method, Not Make-Believe Tom Griffiths , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 21-22 October 2006; (p. 32-33)

— Review of The History Question : Who Owns the Past? Inga Clendinnen 2006 single work essay
When 'History Changes Who We Were' Alice Healy , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , vol. 23 no. 4 2008; (p. 481-488)

— Review of Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville 2006 single work criticism ; The History Question : Who Owns the Past? Inga Clendinnen 2006 single work essay ; Agamemnon's Kiss : Selected Essays Inga Clendinnen 2006 selected work essay ; Is History Fiction? Ann Curthoys John Docker 2005 single work criticism
Who Owns the Past? Firing Shots in the Battle of the History Wars Thomas R. Frame , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 28 October 2006; (p. 14-15, 17)

— Review of The History Question : Who Owns the Past? Inga Clendinnen 2006 single work essay
Making a Fiction of History Jane Sullivan , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 21 October 2006; (p. 12-13)
'Novelist Kate Grenville has upset historians by claiming her Booker-shortlisted The Secret River is a new form of history writing.'
Taking / Taking Up: Recognition and the Frontier in Grenville's The Secret River Adam Gall , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue 2008; (p. 94-104)
'This article examines some aspects of the cultural politics of Kate Grenville's novel, The Secret River (2005), especially with respect to the problematic of Aboriginal and settler possession. Beginning with Grenville's own account, put forward in her writing memoir Searching for The Secret River (2006), and proceeding via the criticisms offered by historian Inga Clendinnen, the article is concerned with the position and operation of the frontier in contemporary settler-colonial culture in Australia. From this perspective, Grenville's novel is read critically as a literary reflection of that culture.' (Author's abstract)
Imaginative History Has a Fraction Too Much Fiction Inga Clendinnen , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian Magazine , 14-15 October 2006; (p. 62)
Archival Salvage : History’s Reef and the Wreck of the Historical Novel A. Frances Johnson , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue vol. 11 no. 1 2011; (p. 1-21)
'In recent years debates about the ethics of portraying Indigenous subjects and subject matter have almost been superseded by circular debates about 'true' Australian history and who has the right to tell it. This has been disappointing in a context of the morally and formally imaginative speculations of historians such as Tom Griffiths, Fiona Paisley, Stephen Kinnane and Greg Dening, and also in a context of Indigenous studies Professor Marcia Langton's evidently too-hopeful calls for the activation of a shared cultural space. But as this local debate has become more heated, more public, the oddest spectacle of all in recent years was the recent lambasting of historical novelists.

Novelist Kate Grenville was a particular target of attack. Notable historians such as Mark McKenna, John Hirst and Inga Clendinnen vociferously condemned dramatic accounts of the past as anachronistic, unethical and, most curious of all in relation to the fictioneer's job description, untrue. I revisit the 'history wars' stoush to argue that these historians overlooked the suasion of broader, local political battles to determine and culturally enshrine particular narratives of Australian pasts; I argue that they also eschewed the linguistic turn of postmodernism and the contributions made therein by prominent historical scholars in their own field such as Hayden White and Dominic LaCapra. The paper finally shows how Grenville, Kim Scott and other novelists have engaged with colonial archival materials, deploying particular narrative techniques that enable them to generate compelling postcolonial dramatisations of colonial pasts. (Author's abstract)
The Frontier Wars : History and Fiction in Journey to the Stone Country and Landscape of Farewell Shirley Walker , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 156-169)
'There are some stories that must be told lest 'none be left to think of them and shed a tear' (Miller, Landscape, 12). The stories Alex Miller is concerned with in Journey to the Stone Country (2002) and Landscape of Farewell (2007) are those of the Aboriginal massacres which accompanied the invasion of Australia. But he also remind us, in Landscape of Farewell, of all such episodes of mass murder, including the Holocaust, but going back through history to the Trojan Wars and beyond. (Author's introduction 156)
Writing White, Writing Black, and Events at Canoe Rivulet Catherine McKinnon , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Courses , October vol. 16 no. 2 2012;
'How a community imagines the past contributes to the shaping of its present culture; influences that community's vision for the future. Yet much about the past can be difficult to access, as it can be lost or hidden. Therefore, when retelling first contact stories, especially when the documentary information is limited to a colonial perspective, how might a writer approach fictionalizing historical Indigenous figures? 'Will Martin' (2011), a tale written as part of my practice-led PhD, is a fictional retelling of the eighteenth century sailing trip, taken along the New South Wales coast, by explorers Matthew Flinders, George Bass, and Bass's servant, William Martin. This paper traces my attempts to discover how to approach fictionalizing the historical Indigenous figures that Flinders met. Examining how some non-Indigenous writers have appropriated Indigenous culture and investigating what some writers have said about non-Indigenous writers creating Indigenous characters, provided me with some guidelines. Interviews with Indigenous elders, and other members of the Illawarra community, helped me imagine the gaps in knowledge. In the fictional retelling, using unreliable narration to suggest there may be multiple stories around a single historical event, some of which we may never get to hear, became a useful narrative strategy.' (Author's abstract)
Bodies of Knowledge : History, Memory, Selves in Tiger's Eye Bernadette Brennan , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 26 no. 2 2012; (p. 209-214)
Last amended 7 Apr 2011 11:50:50
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