'Following is as excerpt from the proposal I made to this year's Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference.
'Years ago when I made a similar proposal for an ASAL conference, a colleague discouraged me by saying It sounds interesting but its not the convention for a writer to talk about himself or his own writings.
'I immediately sensed what was hidden behind the remark: A writer is better dead than talk about himself, about his own writings and about his own writings in one language, compared with his own writings in another.'' (Introduction)
'In 1982, Michael Symons published One Continuous Picnic: A History of Eating in Australia. The twenty-fifth-anniversary edition extended the subtitle with the addition of the "g" word as a sign of national progress and maturation, so that it read, A Gastronomic History of Australian Eating. The main title, while remaining the same, originally read ironically, like Donald Horne's title for The Lucky Country, suggesting a settler culture lacking in discipline, ambition, or taste—whereas by the time of the anniversary edition, "the continuous picnic" had become a full-blown paradox, conjuring simultaneously both progress and decline. It speaks now of nostalgia for a more innocent time, the naiveté (some would say the perversity) of which lay in its self-satisfaction. So what exactly does the picnic signify in Australian culture? What was its original conception, and how has it evolved as a representative image of the Australian way of life?' (Introduction)