'Breaking their poses like trees snapping branches, the women urgently regarded each other, cleared away all signs of work in an instant, examined their souls for defects, in a sense crossed themselves, and waited.
'After Laura and Clare are abandoned by their mother, Felix is there to help, even to marry Laura if she will have him. Little by little the two sisters grow complicit with his obsessions, his cruelty, his need to control.
'Set in the leafy northern suburbs of Sydney during the 1940s, The Watch Tower is a novel of relentless and acute psychological power.' (Publication summary)
'The larger history of Australia's relationship with China over the past century includes a substantial story of cultural relations and understandings between the two countries. And central to this story is another, of scholarly exchange around literature, conducted through the medium of translation, with all the extentuation, complication and delay that attends the freighting of words, phrases and expressions across the bounds of different languages. This essay considers the development of Australian literary studies in China, as it grew from a condition of estrangement to one of comprehensive interconnectivity in this period, through the story of the translation of one book: Elizabeth Harrower's 'The Watch Tower' (1966). (Publication abstract)
'This is a piece of creative non-fiction merging art commentary, literary analysis, and a personal account of the writer’s research. Changes across time in the writer’s understanding of an Australian painting – Breakfast Piece (1936) by Herbert Badham – are examined, with the writer’s slowness to comprehend the painting’s overt allusion to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) highlighted. The writer’s discovery that Breakfast Piece was reproduced on the covers of a 1985 edition of Eleanor Dark’s 1945 novel The Little Company and a 1991 edition of Elizabeth Harrower’s 1966 novel The Watch Tower provokes an analysis of these authors’ treatment of international geopolitical affairs and local gender relations.' (Publication abstract)
Over the course of 1961, the New Yorker published Hannah Arendt’s reports on the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Her articles would give rise to a controversy in which Arendt would lose friends, as well as the support of many in the Jewish community. They also gave rise to one of the most significant philosophical concepts to emerge in the aftermath of the Holocaust: the idea of the banality of evil. Arendt painted a picture of Eichmann as a bureaucrat and a follower, who committed atrocities not out of ideology or hatred, but rather through a pronounced inability to think for himself. She writes,
[I]t would have been very comforting indeed to believe that Eichmann was a monster, even though if he had been Israel’s case against him would have collapsed or, at the very least, lost all interest. Surely, one can hardly call upon the whole world and gather correspondents from the four corners of the earth in order to display Bluebeard in the dock. The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.' (Introduction)
'The opening sentence of the first short story Elizabeth Harrower ever completed 3 plunges the reader into a dramatic meteorological event:
And then, as if the lightning that ripped the sky apart wasn’t enough, the lights round the edge of the swimming pool, and even the three big ones sunk into it on cement piles, went out. At once the solid blackness rang with shrieks and laughter; only Janet was struck dumb to find that she had been obliterated. It was like nothing so much as that astronomical darkness into which she had been plunged last year when they took out her tonsils. (Introduction)