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Lee conducts a semiotic analysis of the reception of Henry Lawson and his works, revealing the connections critics made between the work, the hand of the author and truth. Lee finds that the work of a colonial realist like Lawson was subordinated to a European aesthetic in the "shifting discursive territories which characterise culture", subsequently excluding it from the validating process of the dominant culture.
'In the post-war period, the dichotomy between Realism and Modernism seemed to summarise all the important rivalries in Australian fiction -nationalist enthusiasm and political responsibility lined up against cosmopolitan sophistication and formalist experimentation. Given the approximate and tendentious nature of the terms of this dichotomy, it was inevitable that writing that could not fall easily into one or other of its broad categories would be met with some uncertainty and perhaps eventually ignored. The aim of this article is to show how a novel which met such a fate, Elizabeth Harrower's The Watch Tower, both discusses and defies the simple dichotomy that Australian literary critics in the 1960s were so keen to maintain as their paradigm. Harrower's novel, like the work of Christina Stead before her and Helen Garner after her, attempted to subject the techniques and concerns of the traditional social novel -- especially the question of the nature and function of domestic power -- to the self-consciousness that modernism demanded, without giving in to the temptations of either formalist machismo or realist belligerence.' (Introduction)
Presents a case for this poem being the first publication by 'Tasma' (Jessie Couvreur) whose maiden name was Jessie Katherine Huybers. In two other sources (Winifred Birkett,1938, and Patricia Clarke, Pen Portraits, 1988), the poem is referred to as 'Lines Addressed by a Mother to Her Idiot Son').