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Issue Details: First known date: 1929... 1929 Desiderata
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Desiderata appeared quarterly between August 1929 and August 1939. It was produced from Preece's Bookshop in Adelaide's King William Street by John Preece and his brother Edgar, who split their time between their responsibilities as bookshop managers and magazine editors. The bookshop had been founded in 1907 by their father, F. W. Preece, who died in 1928 just before the magazine was launched. According to Geoffrey Dutton, the bookshop, which also ran a circulating library, was 'a centre of literary and artistic culture in Adelaide'.

John Preece took an active part in literary life, in Adelaide and beyond. By the time he started editing the magazine, he was already in contact with the Lindsays, who contributed to the first issue of Desiderata. The front cover of the magazine's first issue featured a woodcut by Lionel Lindsay of a white cockatoo devouring a book. In that same issue Norman Lindsay reviewed M. Barnard Eldershaw's A House is Built. Jack Lindsay further contributed to the project in his role as an agent of the Preeces in London.

According to David Carter, 'Desiderata was intensely interested in the state of contemporary modern arts and letters. While anything but revolutionary in its aims, Desiderata constantly sought to know what the present looked like, to assess the 'spirit of the times', and, increasingly, to judge just where Australian literature might sit on the scale of modernity.' The magazine mainly published reviews of 'current literature,' both Australian and British, with an emphasis on the latter: the first issue reviewed the work of authors such as T. F. Powys, Eugene O'Neill, and Virginia Woolf's Orlando, which had been published the previous year.

Carter notes that 'even though the magazine did not take an openly nationalist stance, it was always well-disposed towards new developments in Australian writing', discussing Australian literature from the start: Coonardo was reviewed shortly after its release, for example. Reviews were supplemented by occasional essays, and by February 1932 Desiderata had a regular section entitled 'The Australian Contribution.' Subsequent numbers had a dedicated section where new and forthcoming Australian publications were discussed.

Contributors to Desiderata included D. P. McGuire, an innovative poet, successful crime novelist, and later Australia's Ambassador to Italy, and I. M Foster, 'a woman who deserves to be remembered', as Dutton writes, 'as she wrote enlightened reviews, especially of Australian books, in Adelaide for more than thirty years'. In its final years, Desiderata began to notice new poets, reviewing Douglas Stewart and R. D. Fitzgerald. In 1938, Rex Ingamells's Conditional Culture and the Jindyworobak Anthology appeared under the F. W. Preece imprint, which also published the Jindy magazine Venture in 1939-40.

David Carter compares the editorial line of Desiderata to publications such as All About Books and Art in Australia. These publications' 'modest goals can be fairly aligned with those of "middlebrow" culture understood in its historically specific form; to the "and important books" among current literature, although it would also distinguish its own tastes from those it considered "highbrow" or "ultra-modernist."'

(The source for this abstract is a yet unpublished article by David Carter called 'Modernising Anglocentrism: Desiderata and Literary Time' [January 2012].

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1929

Works about this Work

Modernising Anglocentrism : Desiderata and Literary Time David Carter , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Republics of Letters : Literary Communities in Australia 2012; (p. 85-98)
'In his case study of Desiderata, a literary journal published in Adelaide from 1929 to 1939, David Carter studies the cross currents of literary modernism's reception among elite and middlebrow circles in this provincial city. On the basis of fresh archival research, he proposes an elegant model of the relations between local and international literary space, extending from Anglocentrism at one end to provincialism at the other, reflecting Casanova's distinction between national and international orientations. But in an innovative turn that resists and complicates her often hard binaries, he suggests that we can we can distinguish provincial and modernising forms of cultural identification at both ends of the spectrum...' (From Introduction p. xv)
New Australian Literary Paper Views, News and Reviews 1929 single work column
— Appears in: All About Books , 20 August vol. 1 no. 9 1929; (p. 284)
Brief announcement of the new literary quarterly.
New Australian Literary Paper Views, News and Reviews 1929 single work column
— Appears in: All About Books , 20 August vol. 1 no. 9 1929; (p. 284)
Brief announcement of the new literary quarterly.
Modernising Anglocentrism : Desiderata and Literary Time David Carter , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Republics of Letters : Literary Communities in Australia 2012; (p. 85-98)
'In his case study of Desiderata, a literary journal published in Adelaide from 1929 to 1939, David Carter studies the cross currents of literary modernism's reception among elite and middlebrow circles in this provincial city. On the basis of fresh archival research, he proposes an elegant model of the relations between local and international literary space, extending from Anglocentrism at one end to provincialism at the other, reflecting Casanova's distinction between national and international orientations. But in an innovative turn that resists and complicates her often hard binaries, he suggests that we can we can distinguish provincial and modernising forms of cultural identification at both ends of the spectrum...' (From Introduction p. xv)

PeriodicalNewspaper Details

Subtitle:
A Guide to Good Books
Range:
No. 1 (August 1929) - No. 41 (August 1939)
Last amended 17 Jan 2012 16:54:08
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