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A collection of essays and poems offering the responses of writers and artists to London in its role as 'imperial centre'. These range from 'colonial' impressions - Henry Lawson, Catherine Helen Spence - to contemporary postcolonial reactions, and from the negative to the bemused to the amused and amusing. The book derives from papers given in connection with Lee Kok Liang's London Does Not Belong to Me and conferences organised by the Centre for New Literatures in English at Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.
Contents indexed selectively.
* Contents derived from the Adelaide,South Australia,:Lythrum Press,2006 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The author explores 'possibilities of positive and benign influence whereby British literature has stimulated post-colonial literatures to independence: to adapt and transform influence', seeing it as 'an ongoing and unpredictable process shaped by changing historical circumstances.' In relation to Marcus Clarke, A. D. Hope and Christopher Koch, the author suggests 'continuities and changes' and a diversity that 'resists generalisation, except of a facile kind.'
Approaches to the history of Australian literary production have focused principally on London as the epicentre of Australian literary aspiration - the Mecca for colonial writers and the hub of their publishing world. London is the 'Crowned ogress' of Victor Daley's poem 'When London Calls', first published in the Bulletin in 1900, luring the innocent colonial writer with a siren-song of promises, only to corrupt, distort and ultimately discard. This London is seen as providing the necessary environment for the civilised and creative spirit as well as being the essential conferrer of literary success, indeed legitimacy. The phenomenon has been well documented, from Lawson's savage criticisms of the 'Paternoster Row Machine' through more recent accounts such as Stephen Alomes's book (using Daley's title) detailing the history of Australian expatriate writers. Also well documented has been the revival and expansion of Australian publishing in the 1970s. However, the emphasis on colonial fight-back has obscured a shift in literary engagement exemplified by the 1955 publication of White's The Tree of Man but which may have started many years before - a conversation with America that began almost unnoticed and whose roots and origins need exploration. This article demonstrates how pursuing a bibliographic paper-trail, following places of publication of Australian literary works, casts new light on the extent and nature of the publishing and reception of Australian works overseas and the reasons for that interest in and encouragement of Australian literature.