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y separately published work icon Poor Fellow My Country single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1975... 1975 Poor Fellow My Country
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  • Available in braille and as a sound recording.

Affiliation Notes

  • Associated with the AustLit subset Australian Literary Responses to 'Asia' as the work contains Chinese characters.


* Contents derived from the Sydney South, South Sydney area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,:HarperCollins Australia , 2014 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction, Russell McDougall , single work essay (p. xi-xvii)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Fontana , 1975 .
      Extent: 1463p.
      Limited edition info: First printed in September 1975 in an edition of 14,000 copies of which 150 numbered and signed copies were bound in leather.
      Reprinted: 1975 , 1983 , 1976 , 1977 , 1985
      ISBN: 0006160298
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Collins , 1975 .
      Extent: 1463p.
      ISBN: 0006144705 (pbk), 0002115888
    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Pan ,
      1977 .
      Extent: 1463p.
      ISBN: 033025233X
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Collins , 1980 .
      Extent: 1463p.
      ISBN: 0002222183 (dustjacket)
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Collins , 1988 .
      Extent: 1463p.
      ISBN: 0732200350
Alternative title: Kawaiso Na Watakushi No Kuni
Language: Japanese

Works about this Work

Australian Literature’s Legacies of Cultural Appropriation Michael R. Griffiths , 2018 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 23 October 2018;

'Non-Indigenous Australian writers face a dilemma. On the one hand, they can risk writing about Aboriginal people and culture and getting it wrong. On the other, they can avoid writing about Aboriginal culture and characters, but by doing so, erase Aboriginality from the story they tell.' (Introduction)

Xavier Herbert. Requiem for Genius Russell McDougall , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cultural Studies Review , vol. 23 no. 2 2017; (p. 106-125)

'In today’s global celebrity culture it’s hard to imagine a word more over-used and abused than ‘genius’. It is a slippery word with a long and contradictory conceptual history. Yet, in the Land of the Tall Poppy, self-confessions of genius invariably have paved a broad road to public ridicule and denigration. Xavier Herbert’s notion of genius was not static. It changed throughout his life and it evolved through his writing. He agreed with Carlyle that the first condition of genius must always be a ‘transcendent capacity of taking trouble’ and on this foundation he built his own concept of genius, as the unending ‘capacity for loving’. This article explores what genius meant to Xavier Herbert and how it translated into his fiction, before considering how our sense of genius today influences the way we respond to his most challenging fictions of love and hate, 'Capricornia' and 'Poor Fellow My Country'.'  (Publication abstract)

‘Little Gunshots, but with the Blaze of Lightning’ : Xavier Herbert, Visuality and Human Rights Jane Lydon , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cultural Studies Review , vol. 23 no. 2 2017; (p. 87-105)

'Xavier Herbert published his bestseller Capricornia in 1938, following two periods spent in the Northern Territory. His next major work, Poor Fellow My Country (1975), was not published until thirty-seven years later, but was also set in the north during the 1930s. One significant difference between the two novels is that by 1975 photo-journalism had become a significant force for influencing public opinion and reforming Aboriginal policy. Herbert’s novel, centring upon Prindy as vulnerable Aboriginal child, marks a sea change in perceptions of Aboriginal people and their place in Australian society, and a radical shift toward use of photography as a means of revealing the violation of human rights after World War II. In this article I review Herbert’s visual narrative strategies in the context of debates about this key historical shift and the growing impact of photography in human rights campaigns. I argue that Poor Fellow My Country should be seen as a textual re-enactment, set in Herbert’s and the nation’s past, yet coloured by more recent social changes that were facilitated and communicated through the camera’s lens. Like all re-enactments, it is written in the past conditional: it asks, what if things had been different? It poses a profound challenge to the state project of scientific modernity that was the Northern Territory over the first decades of the twentieth century.'  (Publication abstract)

Blood Call and ‘Natural Flutters’ : Xavier Herbert’s Racialised Quartet of Heteronormativity Liz Conor , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cultural Studies Review , vol. 23 no. 2 2017; (p. 70-86)

'National belonging for Xavier Herbert was intimately tied to interracial sexuality. ‘Euraustralians’ (‘half-castes’) were for Herbert a redemptive motif that could assuage the ‘awful loneliness of the colonial born’ by which he hinted at the land claim of settler-colonials as spurious. Herbert’s exposure of the spectrum of interracial sex—from companionate marriage to casual prostitution to endemic sexual assault—in his novels Capricornia (1938) and Poor Fellow My Country (1975) was unprecedented and potentially game-changing in the administration of Aboriginal women’s sexuality under the assimilation era. But his deeply fraught masculinity was expressed through a picaresque frontier manhood that expressed itself through this spectrum of relations with Aboriginal women. For all his radical assertions of a ‘Euraustralian’ or hybrid nation, Herbert was myopic and dismissive of the women attached to the ‘lean loins’ he hoped it would spring from. He was also vitriolic about the white women, including wives, who interfered with white men’s access to Aboriginal women’s bodies. In this article I examine how Herbert’s utopian racial destinies depended on the unexamined sexual contract of monogamy and the asymmetrical pact to which it consigned white men and white women, and the class of sexually available Indigenous women, or ‘black velvet’, it rested on in colonial scenarios of sex.'  (Publication abstract)

Xavier Herbert : Forgotten or Repressed? Liz Conor , Ann McGrath , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cultural Studies Review , vol. 23 no. 2 2017; (p. 62-69)

'Xavier Herbert is one of Australia’s outstanding novelists and one of the more controversial. In his time, he was also an outspoken public figure. Yet many young Australians today have not heard of the man or his novels. His key works Capricornia(1938) and Poor Fellow My Country (1975) won major awards and were judged as highly significant on publication, yet there has been relatively little analysis of their impact. Although providing much material for Baz Luhrmann’s blockbuster film Australia (2008), his works are rarely recommended as texts in school curricula or in universities. Gough Whitlam took a particular interest in the final draft of Poor Fellow My Country, describing it as a work of ‘national significance’ and ensuring the manuscript was sponsored to final publication. In 1976 Randolph Stow described it as ‘THE Australian classic’. Yet, a search of the Australian Literature database will show that it is one of the most under-read and least taught works in the Australian literary canon. In our view, an examination of his legacy is long overdue. This collection brings together new scholarship that explores the possible reasons for Herbert’s eclipse within public recognition, from his exposure of unpalatable truths such as interracial intimacy, to his relationship with fame. This reevaluation gives new readings of the works of this important if not troublesome public intellectual and author.' (Publication abstract)

Defeated by Verbosity Ross Campbell , 1975 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 4 October vol. 97 no. 4977 1975; (p. 46-47)

— Review of Poor Fellow My Country Xavier Herbert , 1975 single work novel
Untitled Brian Elliott , 1975 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 13 September 1975; (p. 20)

— Review of Poor Fellow My Country Xavier Herbert , 1975 single work novel
Untitled T. Hepworth , 1975 single work review
— Appears in: Nation Review , 17-23 October 1975; (p. 23)

— Review of Poor Fellow My Country Xavier Herbert , 1975 single work novel
Untitled Harry Payne Heseltine , 1975 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 13 September 1975; (p. 41)

— Review of Poor Fellow My Country Xavier Herbert , 1975 single work novel
Xavier Herbert's Magnum Opus Harry Payne Heseltine , 1975 single work review
— Appears in: Meanjin Quarterly , Winter vol. 34 no. 2 1975; (p. 133-136)

— Review of Poor Fellow My Country Xavier Herbert , 1975 single work novel
y separately published work icon A Long and Winding Road : Xavier Herbert's Literary Journey Sean Monahan , Nedlands : UWA Publishing , 2003 Z1041133 2003 single work criticism
y separately published work icon The Novels of Xavier Herbert Sean Monahan , Nedlands : University of Western Australia , 2001 Z1048898 2001 single work thesis
Politics and Xavier Herbert's Women Kevin Green , 1983 single work criticism
— Appears in: Kunapipi , vol. 5 no. 1 1983; (p. 51-62)
Tale End 5.8.03 Stewart Rose , 2003 single work correspondence
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 12 August vol. 121 no. 6385 2003; (p. 6)
An Evening with Xavier Herbert Xavier Herbert , 1976 single work autobiography
— Appears in: LiNQ , vol. 5 no. 1 1976; (p. 1-6)
Last amended 12 Jul 2019 14:07:33