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y separately published work icon The Children's Bach single work   novella  
Issue Details: First known date: 1984... 1984 The Children's Bach
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Athena and Dexter lead an enclosed family life, innocent of fashion and bound towards a disturbed child. Their comfortable rut is disrupted by the arrival of Elizabeth, a tough nut from Dexter's past. With her three charming, chaotic hangers-on, she draws the couple out into a world whose casual egotism they had barely dreamed of. How can they get home again? (Source: publisher's website)

Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 11 (Literature Unit 2). Year 11 has been chosen as the focus for this unit because it deals with significant themes demanding some maturity with a strong focus on literary technique and analysis appropriate to Year 11.

Themes

aspirations, autism, disability, domesticity, family, infidelity, isolation, marriage, music, relationships

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Intercultural understanding, Literacy

Notes

  • Adapted for the 1998 audio cassette 'The Children's Bach' published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Narrated by Genevieve Picot. Also available in Braille.
  • Other formats: Also braille, sound recording.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: McPhee Gribble , 1984 .
      image of person or book cover 6849505702716625776.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 96p.
      Reprinted: 1989 0869140744 (pbk.)
      ISBN: 0869140299
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: McPhee Gribble , 1985 .
      Extent: 96p.
      ISBN: 014008715
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1996 .
      image of person or book cover 6913176690854875628.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 96p.
      Reprinted: 1999 0140286284
      ISBN: 0140259163 (pbk.)
    • Camberwell, Camberwell - Kew area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 2008 .
      image of person or book cover 3653583150136487786.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 163p.
      ISBN: 9780143180043 (pbk.)
      Series: Penguin Modern Classics series - publisher
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2018 .
      Extent: 176p.p.
      Edition info: Hardback ed.
      Note/s:
      • Published November 2018.

      ISBN: 9781925773040, 9781925626513
Alternative title: Podle Bacha
Language: Czech
    • Prague,
      c
      Czech Republic,
      c
      Eastern Europe, Europe,
      :
      Fraktaly ,
      2004 .
      image of person or book cover 5215730541610282991.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 108p.
      ISBN: 808662708X

Works about this Work

Ekphrastic Effects in Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach Kate Livett , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 77 no. 3 2017; (p. 66-82)

'Helen Garner's 1984 novella, The Children's Bach opens with a description and commentary on the famous photograph of Alfred Lord Tennyson and his family taken en pleine air at their house on the Isle of Wight in 1862:

'Dexter found, in a magazine. a photograph of the poet Tennyson, his wife and their two sons walking in the garden of their house on the Isle of Wight. To the modern eye it is a shocking picture: they are all, with the exception of the great man himself, bundled up in such enormous, incapacitating garments. Eye-line: Tennyson looks into the middle distance. His wife, holding his arm and standing very close to his side, gazes up into his face. One boy holds his father's hand and looks up at him. The other boy holds his mother's and looks into the camera with a weak, rueful expression. Behind them, out of focus, twinkles the windy foliage of a great garden. Their shadows fall across the lawn: they have just taken a step. Tennyson's hands are large square paws, held up awkwardly at stomach level. His wife's face is gaunt and her eyes are set in deep sockets. It is a photo of a family. The wind puffs out the huge stiff curved sleeve of the woman's dress, and brushes back off his forehead the long hair of the father's boy who is turned towards the drama of his parents' faces; though he is holding his father's hand, he is separate from the group, and light shows between his tightly buttoned torso and his father's leg.' (Introduction)

y separately published work icon The Sydney Morning Herald 10 November 2014 8056916 2014 newspaper issue
A Story in Clothes 2014 single work
— Appears in: Griffith Review , Winter no. 44 2014;
Reading Australia : Helen Garner's 'The Children's Bach' [Essay] : The Children’s Bach Bernadette Brennan , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Reading Australia 2013; Australian Book Review , May no. 371 2015; (p. 49-51)

'Houses, and their domestic spaces of intimacy and negotiation, sit at the core of Helen Garner’s early fiction. Most often they are large, communal houses in Melbourne’s Carlton or Fitzroy, places where a generation of youngish countercultural musicians, artists, and wounded souls challenge the accepted rules of sexual relationships and attempt to redefine what might constitute family. In the kitchens and bedrooms of Monkey Grip (1977), Honour and Other People’s Children (1980), and Cosmo Cosmolino (1992), Garner’s characters wrestle with their passions and ideals. The new patterns of living that they establish offer, particularly for the women, a sense of liberating possibility beyond marriage and childrearing, but that freedom is coupled with compromise and loss. In The Children’s Bach (1984), Garner shifts her focus to the suburban household of a married couple. In this novella, she both critiques and celebrates the burdens of responsibility and commitment.' (Publication summary)

‘Women’s Writing’ and ‘Feminism’ : A History of Intimacy and Estrangement Zora Simic , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Outskirts : Feminisms Along the Edge , May no. 28 2013;
'Women’s Liberation in Australia and elsewhere created feminist readers and writers. Consciousness-raising and reading and writing were intimately linked. Within the women’s movement, journals, magazines and newspapers were launched, small presses inaugurated and writing and reading groups formed. Subscription lists charted the explosion in new titles by, for and about women, and feminist bookshops stocked them. Women’s writers’ festivals, poetry readings and book launches were opportunities to find and promote new work, and to meet other feminists. Some women writers from the past were rediscovered and many contemporary female writers were championed. One of the most successful writers to emerge on the Australian literary scene in the 1970s – Helen Garner, whose debut novel Monkey Grip (1977) won the National Book Council’s Book of the Year award in 1978 – directly linked her ascendency to feminism. A specifically feminist literary criticism began to develop. More generally, feminism also helped to expand the market for women’s writing, so much so that by the 1980s major publishers were developing lists of women’s fiction and/ or subsuming feminist presses into their operations.' (Author's introduction)
[Review] The Children's Bach John Webb , 1985 single work review
— Appears in: Fremantle Arts Centre Broadsheet , May - June vol. 4 no. 3 1985; (p. 2)

— Review of The Children's Bach Helen Garner , 1984 single work novella
Garner's New Dimensions Adrian Mitchell , 1984 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 8-9 December 1984; (p. 16)

— Review of The Children's Bach Helen Garner , 1984 single work novella
Sound Advice From Helen Garner Peter Pierce , 1984 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 1 December 1984; (p. 18)

— Review of The Children's Bach Helen Garner , 1984 single work novella
Two Australian Novels... Bach , Like Life is Never Simple Katharine England , 1984 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 8 December 1984; (p. 9)

— Review of The Children's Bach Helen Garner , 1984 single work novella ; Shallows Tim Winton , 1984 single work novel
[Review] The Children's Bach R. Beeby , 1984 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 13 December 1984; (p. 14)

— Review of The Children's Bach Helen Garner , 1984 single work novella
Helen's Consolation Peter Wilmoth , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Sun-Herald , 15 June 2008; (p. 12)
Bach to the Future Peter Wilmoth , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 15 June 2008; (p. 19)
A Novel Approach to Modern Opera Robin Usher , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 17 June 2008; (p. 14)
Habe Dank! Chester Eagle , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Well in the Shadow : A Writer's Journey through Australian Literature 2010; (p. 30-43)
A survey of Helen Garner's 'first phase'.
Greek Olives and Italian Prosciutto on Crusty French Bread : Food in Contemporary Fiction by Australian Women Jennifer Mitchell , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Studies , vol. 2 no. 2010;
'Women have often had a troubled relationship with food, but in recent decades there has been a bit of a turn around - at least in fictional terms. In some earlier Australian feminist fiction from the 1970s and 1980s, women were often portrayed as oppressed by, or resistant to, food and eating. Here I explore food in Kate Grenville's Lilian's Story, Andrea Goldsmith's Gracious Living, and two works by Helen Garner - The Children's Bach and Cosmo Cosmolino. In these stories women refrain from eating, or over indulge, as forms of resistance to oppression. But times have changed. This essay examines the changing nature of how food is represented in fiction by Australian women. The later novels explored here - Drusilla Modjeska's The Orchard, Marion Halligan's The Fog Garden, Stephanie Dowrick Tasting Salt and Amanda Lohrey's Camille's Bread (1995) - significantly reframe food preparation and consumption as positive experiences that promote women's independence, and contribute to their creative lives and personal relationships. These later texts transcend the earlier view of domesticated women as anxious or resistant consumers of food. Instead, food is aesthetically rich and sensually rewarding; a controllable and pleasurable experience promoting health, wellbeing, and positive loving relationships. (Author's abstract)
Last amended 14 May 2018 13:55:56
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