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On the publication of Cecil Mann's edition of Lawson's collected prose, Phillips assesses the best of Lawson's stories and attempts to come to terms with their melancholy tone. He concludes that Lawson combined "his sense of the insecurely triumphant survival of tenderness through endurance" with the rigour of naturalism to produce great works of art. This was achieved because the stories were "formed within the matrix of a defeated man's dark melancholy".
Moore argues that the concept of Australian mateship has been treated uncritically by both its advocates and its detractors. He offers a taxonomy of mateship, dividing it between the exclusive type practiced by four groups - convicts, larrikins, trade unionists, and Marxists - and the inclusive type practiced by bushmen, gold-diggers and miners, idealists, fighting servicemen, contemporary city dwellers, and the Australian people in general. Moore argues that the exclusive type of mateship is characterised by opposition to another group in the social structure, and therefore consists of bitterness, narrowness, and intolerance, alongside the more positive attribute of loyalty. In contrast, the inclusive type of mateship is directed, not against other groups, but against the hazards of the environment, loneliness, danger and death, or towards an ideal.