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Australian Literature (LIT302)
Semester 2 / 2016

Texts

y separately published work icon My Brother Jack : A Novel George Johnston , London Sydney : Collins , 1964 Z824887 1964 single work novel (taught in 13 units)

''The thing I am trying to get at is what made Jack different from me. Different all through our lives, I mean, and in a special sense, not just older or nobler or braver or less clever.'

'David and Jack Meredith grow up in a patriotic suburban Melbourne household during the First World War, and go on to lead lives that could not be more different. Through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece. ' (Publication summary)

y separately published work icon The Doubleman Christopher Koch , London : Chatto and Windus , 1985 Z388681 1985 single work novel (taught in 8 units)

'Clive Broderick, guitar-teacher and occultist - the Doubleman of the title of this acclaimed novel - is speaking of power, and of a realm beyond reality. This is a fable of the sixties, when shared belief-systems crumbled, and the spiritual bazaars of today opened up. Christopher Koch's theme is illusion; and all his characters are bound by it. The Rymers are an electric folk group enjoying mounting success in Sydney. Their producer, Richard Miller, came under Broderick's spell during his youth in Tasmania; so did the guitarists Brady and Burr. Now, years after his death, Broderick's presence remains with all three. Through his disciple, Burr, it will lead to nightmare.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (HarperCollins, 2013 ed.)

y separately published work icon Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler , 1955 London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1957 Z522838 1955 single work drama (taught in 56 units)

'The most famous Australian play and one of the best loved, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a tragicomic story of Roo and Barney, two Queensland sugar-cane cutters who go to Melbourne every year during the 'layoff' to live it up with their barmaid girl friends. The title refers to kewpie dolls, tawdry fairground souvenirs, that they brings as gifts and come, in some readings of the play, to represent adolescent dreams in which the characters seem to be permanently trapped. The play tells the story in traditional well-made, realistic form, with effective curtains and an obligatory scene. Its principal appeal – and that of two later plays with which it forms The Doll Trilogy – is the freshness and emotional warmth, even sentimentality, with which it deals with simple virtues of innocence and youthful energy that lie at the heart of the Australian bush legend.

'Ray Lawler’s play confronts that legend with the harsh new reality of modern urban Australia. The 17th year of the canecutters’ arrangement is different. There has been a fight on the canefields and Roo, the tough, heroic, bushman, has arrived with his ego battered and without money. Barney’s girl friend Nancy has left to get married and is replaced by Pearl, who is suspicious of the whole set-up and hopes to trap Barney into marriage. The play charts the inevitable failure of the dream of the layoff, the end of the men’s supremacy as bush heroes and, most poignantly, the betrayal of the idealistic self-sacrifice made by Roo’s girl friend Olive – the most interesting character – to keep the whole thing going. The city emerges victorious, but the emotional tone of the play vindicates the fallen bushman.'

Source: McCallum, John. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.' Companion to Theatre in Australia. Ed. Philip Parson and Victoria Chance. Sydney: Currency Press , 1997: 564-656.

y separately published work icon The Getting of Wisdom Henry Handel Richardson , London : Heinemann , 1910 Z901329 1910 single work novel (taught in 25 units)

'A coming-of-age story of a spontaneous heroine who finds herself ensconced in the rigidity of a turn-of-the-century boarding school. The clever and highly imaginative Laura has difficulty fitting in with her wealthy classmates and begins to compromise her ideals in her search for popularity and acceptance.' (From the publisher's website.)

y separately published work icon Voss : A Novel Patrick White , London : Eyre and Spottiswoode , 1957 Z872480 1957 single work novel (taught in 33 units)

'Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naïve young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent. As hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his power to endure and to lead, his attachment to Laura gradually increases. Laura, waiting in Sydney, moves through the months of separation as if they were a dream and Voss the only reality.

'From the careful delineation of Victorian society to the sensitive rendering of hidden love to the stark narrative of adventure in the Australian desert, Patrick White's novel is a work of extraordinary power and virtuosity.'

Source: Random House Books (Sighted 21/09/2012)

y separately published work icon The Club David Williamson , 1976 (Manuscript version)x402003 Z1506538 1976 single work drama (taught in 14 units)

Description

This subject presents a study of the distinctive works of the Australian literary imagination. It focuses on the characteristic features of Australian literature and the question of how to define it (and how it defines us). We shall observe the struggles and concerns that have helped shape Australian culture, particularly in the light of a spiritual sensibility at grips with a secularist society. Works studied may include the short stories of Henry Lawson, fiction by major novelists such as Patrick White, and selected poems from a range of authors.

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