'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.
Launched in Sydney, New South Wales by Quentin Bryce, 30 July 2009. Followed by a celebratory event at Gleebooks, Glebe, New South Wales, 31 July 2009 and a one-day symposium, 'Australian Literary Futures', Dixson Room, State Library of NSW, 1 August 2009.
A letter written by Bennelong in 1796.
This essay 'seeks to find new ways to address Australian poetry, through the example of Michael Dransfield, a controversially significant poet.' (139)
'During the nineteenth century, history and the higher forms of art were seen as going hand in hand. The 'history picture,' involving a large-scale depiction of a well-known historical event, was regarded as much more prestigious than a portrait or landscape; tragedies were always set in the past and Sir Walter Scott, it was claimed, made the novel respectable by making it historical. Poets were not immune from this contagion, especially as writing a long poem was still believed to be the way in which a poet could truly prove his worth (gender not really coming into it then). Nineteenth-century Australian poets naturally went along with these notions, producing tragedies set in ancient Rome or, at the latest, Elizabeth England. Charles Harpur, as the self-proclaimed first national Australian poet, initially tried to break with tradition, writing a tragedy about a bushranger and an epic about exploration. Successive revisions of The Creek of the Four Graves, however, show him introducing increasingly archaic language in an effort to provide historical distance. And even Harpur later chose non-Australian topics for his long poem Genius Lost, about Thomas Chatterton, and The Witch of Hebron : a Rabbinical Legend.' (p. 13)
'Numerous commentators have noted affinities between Australia and America. These observations differ in tone and focus but they are all strongly indicative of a perceived connection between two countries in the 'new' world, former colonies of an imperial power. They are suggestive of literary connections that have never been fully documented or analysed. Studies of links between Australia and England exist, pitched at both the academic and the general audience. But apart from several articles by Laurie Hergenhan, and his 1995 biography of Clinton Hartley Grattan, Australian and American literary connections have been, until recently, largely unexplored.
The first large-scale, systematic examination of the area is currently in progress through David Carter's 2006 ARC-funded research project 'America Publishes Australia: Australian Books and American Publishers, 1890-2005'. If there is a commonality to be found in the history of publishing and reception of Australian literature in America it should emerge from David Carter's study, but I suspect that there will also be evidence of a significant number of unique situations and circumstances which defy generalisation. In this paper I will examine some individual cases of Americans whose connections with Australian literary culture have been of significant and lasting importance, in particular Clinton Hartley Grattan and William Warder Norton' (Author's abstract).