Issue Details: First known date: 2012 2012
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'Thea Astley had a difficult relationship with critical responses to her work throughout her entire writing life. Success - early or late career (for she had both) - did little to diminish the wounds she felt were inflicted when a reviewer or critic got to work on her "style". By the mid-1980s there were even some Australian literary scholars who were beginning to endorse Astley's own sense of critical foul play. Elizabeth Perkins wrote of Astley's fiction being the kind of writing which not only "disconcerts enthusiastic readers" but seems to render it "beyond the reach of the more usual modes of criticism" (Perkins 11; 17). Yet until now little has been said about how this state of affairs developed or how Astley, over time, came to deal with it - despite the many re - marks she made in interviews which indicate just how strange her relationship with her public persona as a writer actually was. Astley, for her part, became adept at deflection: her teenage poetry was "a form of acne" (Smith 43); she was "incapable of playing the game of the writertaking- himself-seriously seriously" (Astley, Kunapipi 21); she was just a "bit of a misfit" (Astley, Australian Voices 37) and later, more defensively, "I've worked all my life and I haven't had to time to be in the ghetto de Balmain" (Astley, Sunday Herald 3). One person who had an impact on Astley's self-regard at an early stage in her writing life was Patrick White. The record of the friendship has thus far rested on the evidence of its beginning and ending, detailed in David Marr's biography Patrick White: A life (1991) yet a letter White wrote to Astley in 1961, and which Astley kept from view and from publication in Marr's subsequent collection of White's letters, is a critical new source from which we can interpret the influence of White's mentoring of Astley.' (Author's abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y Southerly Mid-Century Women Writers vol. 72 no. 1 2012 Z1896404 2012 periodical issue 2012 pg. 53-65
Last amended 24 Oct 2012 10:29:25
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