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y separately published work icon Searching for the Secret River single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2006... 2006 Searching for the Secret River
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'Searching for the Secret River is the extraordinary story of how Kate Grenville came to write her award-winning novel, [The Secret River].

'It all begins with her ancestor Solomon Wiseman, transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life, who later became a wealthy man and built his colonial mansion on the Hawkesbury. Increasingly obsessed with his story, Grenville pursues him from Sydney to London and back, and then up the Hawkesbury itself. Slowly she begins to realise she must write about him, and begins to discover what kind of book she will write. Grenville opens the door and invites the reader into her writing room, and tells us about how this novel was formed, the research she did, the false starts she made and the frustrations she experienced.' (Publisher's blurb)



  • Dedication: For Nance Isobel Russell, 1912-2002, who gave me this journey.

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Cannibalism and Colonialism : Lilian's Story and (White) Women's Belonging Laura Deane , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;

'In 1985, when Kate Grenville’s novel about a fat, unlovely bag lady appeared on the Australian literary landscape, Lilian’s Story was celebrated as a feminist and postcolonial text. By locating Lilian as ex-centric to the nation, to inhabit the abjected zones of the colony—the bush, the asylum, the streets of post-Federation Sydney—Grenville is commonly read as a feminist writer intervening into the gender politics that shaped Australia. Feminists celebrate the ways in which she carves out discursive spaces for women who have existed largely in the interstices between public memory and official history. Postcolonial critical interpretations of Lilian being ‘colonised’ by her father, provoked by the rape narrative, have tended to reproduce the postcolonial trope of Australia’s shift from a colonial relationship to a national structure. Such readings largely neglect the colonial violence of Australian patriarchy, and the skewed gender norms that result when a host culture is transplanted to an imperial outpost. Taking up the colonial metaphor structuring the relationship between Lilian and her father, I read Lilian’s ‘madness’ as a response to discourses of ‘race’ and gender that circulate in the colonial Imaginary to position women as the site for racial anxiety about colonial ‘dirt’, contamination and disorder. While Lilian approaches the rebellious female grotesque celebrated in postcolonial feminist theorising, her obese body also signifies the devouring nature of colonialism. This paper engages with the white politics of women’s ‘belonging’ inscribed in Lilian’s Story to disinter the schizoid nature of white women’s relationship to colonial patriarchy.' (Publication abstract)

Tracking Our Country in Settler Literature Jeanine Leane , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;

'This is a narrative paper that tracks a story of Aboriginal representation and the concept of nation across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through some important Australian texts. I read this assemblage of settler literature through the cultural metaphor of tracking, because tracking is as much about anticipation as it is following. Tracking is about reading: reading land and people before and after whitefellas. It is about entering into the consciousness of the person or people of interest. Tracking is not just about reading the physical signs; it is about reading the mind. It is not just about seeing and hearing what is there; it is as much about what is not there. Tony Morrisson [sic] wrote of mapping ‘the critical geography’ (3) of the white literary imagination in her work on Africanist presence in American Literature, Playing in the Dark. This paper tracks the settler imagination on Aboriginal presence in Australian literature in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. ' (Author's introduction)

Discursive Manipulations of Names and Naming in Kate Grenville's 'The Secret River' Sheila Collingwood-Whittick , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Commonwealth Essays and Studies , Autumn vol. 36 no. 1 2013; (p. 21-32)
'This article stems from two observations arising from my reading of Kate Grenville's three-part exploration of Anglo-Australia's frontier history. The first is that, contrary to Grenville's averred commitment to telling the unvarnished truth about the modern nation's shameful origins, her recent historical fiction betrays a refractory tendency to portray Australia's past in a sentimental light. The second is that names and the act of naming constitute a dominant strand in the narrative weave of each of the novels. In the discussion that follows I seek to demonstrate the existence of a causal link between these two apparently unrelated observations by showing that a recurrent narratorial emphasis on the affective importance that names of places, people and things assume in the life of the colonial subject constitutes a vital element in the "empathetic history" (Gall 95) of Australia's frontier era that Grenville is intent on creating. Although this analysis can be applied to all three of Grenville's colonial novels, the present article will focus solely on the trilogy's opening volume, The Secret River - the work in which the author's discursive manipulation of names is most transparent and the ideological direction the rest of her frontier saga will follow is clearly signposted.' (Author's abstract)
Empathic Deterritorialisation : Re-Mapping the Postcolonial Novel in Creative Writing Classrooms A. Frances Johnson , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 12 no. 1 2012;
'Michael Dodson has commented that the 'repossession of our past is the repossession of ourselves' - yet since the 1980s, the translation of such imperatives within literary and historical colonial archival research has been tightly circumscribed by controversial, often agonistic identity debates. Reflection on the broad emotional imprimateurs guiding intellectual and creative research activity have been muted, variously repressed or backgrounded, voided by (white) shame or tact, and often deferred to Indigenous commentators for framing commentaries. Vehement stoushes between the disciplinary cousins of history and literature have also erupted as part of recent local history and culture wars debates. With hindsight, these seemingly 'emotional' yet supra-rational debates, focusing righteously on entitlement and access to colonial archives, seem to have lacked so-called emotional intelligence and (inter)disciplinary imagination. The arguments of the protagonists have now have been 'tidied away', leaving a subsidence of unscholarly embarrassment in their wake.

I aim to show that despite the problematic inheritance of these public debates, many historians, novelists and cultural critics (Elspeth Probyn, the late Greg Dening, Kate Grenville, Kim Scott and others) have managed to rigorously contest and (re)present colonial archival material without repudiating their own emotional involvement with 'the Australian past' in order to maintain scholarly distance. They have understood, in Marcia Langton's phrase, that 'some of us have lived through it, are living through it. This is not an exercise in historiography alone, and therefore presents problems beyond that of traditional historiography.' My analysis of these writer's commentaries will be contextualised against Langton's idea of intercultural subjectivity, which emphasises a discursive intextuality that can be engaged with equally by black and white artists, critics and writers across the genres. Langton, Dening, Grenville, Scott and others will be shown as thinkers who lead the way in suggesting and/or demonstrating how postcolonial novels can be taught and made.' (Author's abstract)
Sea-change or Atrophy? The Australian Convict Inheritance Cynthia Van Den Driesen , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Coolabah , no. 5 2011;
This paper is an offshoot of a larger project which explored the possibility for the erstwhile settler-colonizer undergoing the sea-change into settler-indigene emergent through a study of selected novels of Patrick White. It became apparent to me that the convict figure, who played an ancillary role in these works, could lay claim to the status of white indigene well ahead of the main protagonist. Robert Hughes (in The Fatal Shore) discredits the idea of any bonding between the convict and the Aborigine but acknowledges examples of "white blackfellas"—white men who had successfully been adopted into Aboriginal societies. Martin Tucker's nineteenth century work, Ralph Rashleigh, offers surprising testimony of a creative work which bears this out in a context where Australian literature generally reflected the national amnesia with regard to the Aborigine and barely accorded them human status. Grenville's The Secret River (2005), based broadly on the history of her own ancestor, appears to support Hughes' original contention but is also replete with ambivalences that work against a simple resolution. This paper will explore some of the ambivalences, the 'food for thought' on aspects of the Australian experience highlighted by these literary texts, and glances briefly also at variations on the theme in Carey's Jack Maggs and the The True Story of the Kelly Gang. (Author's abstract)
At the Birth of a Tour de Force Delia Falconer , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 2-3 September 2006; (p. 32-33)

— Review of Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work criticism
The Getting of Wiseman Delia Falconer , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 2 September 2006; (p. 21)

— Review of Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work criticism
Wading Into the Deep Waters of History Stella Clarke , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 7-8 October 2006; (p. 12-13)

— Review of Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work criticism
[Review] Searching for the Secret River Phillip Edmonds , 2007 single work review
— Appears in: Wet Ink , Autumn no. 6 2007; (p. 58-59)

— Review of Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work criticism
Journey Through Murky Water Shannon Breen , 2007 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Women's Book Review , vol. 19 no. 1 2007;

— Review of Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work criticism
Much Ado About Nothing? Stephanie Bunbury , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 2 December 2006; (p. 3)
Undercover Susan Wyndham , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 20-21 January 2007; (p. 30)
A column canvassing current literary news including a brief report on book sales for The Secret River and Searching for the Secret River.
When Secrets Succumb to Serendipity Jane Sullivan , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 13 October 2007; (p. 28)
Taking / Taking Up: Recognition and the Frontier in Grenville's The Secret River Adam Gall , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue 2008; (p. 94-104)
'This article examines some aspects of the cultural politics of Kate Grenville's novel, The Secret River (2005), especially with respect to the problematic of Aboriginal and settler possession. Beginning with Grenville's own account, put forward in her writing memoir Searching for The Secret River (2006), and proceeding via the criticisms offered by historian Inga Clendinnen, the article is concerned with the position and operation of the frontier in contemporary settler-colonial culture in Australia. From this perspective, Grenville's novel is read critically as a literary reflection of that culture.' (Author's abstract)
y separately published work icon The God-Shaped Hole : Responding to the Good News in Australia Veronica Brady , Adelaide : ATF Press , 2008 Z1533434 2008 selected work criticism This book brings together a selection of Veronica Brady's critical addresses arguing that there are novels and poems that bear witness to the mystery of 'God' or an 'Other' who speaks through others.
Last amended 1 Oct 2020 13:36:13
  • Sydney, New South Wales,
  • London,
    United Kingdom (UK),
    Western Europe, Europe,
  • Hawkesbury area, Northwest Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,
  • Wisemans Ferry area, Hawkesbury area, Northwest Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,
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