''The thing I am trying to get at is what made Jack different from me. Different all through our lives, I mean, and in a special sense, not just older or nobler or braver or less clever.'
'David and Jack Meredith grow up in a patriotic suburban Melbourne household during the First World War, and go on to lead lives that could not be more different. Through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece. ' (Publication summary)
An historical drama series set largely in the suburbs of Melbourne between the 1920s and World War II, much of the film's action centres on the lives of young Davey, his older brother Jack, and their family.
'In August 1964 Martin Johnston boarded the Ellinis in the port of Piraeus, destined for Sydney, Australia, bringing to an end his 14-year estrangement from the land of his birth. Johnston, who had lived abroad most of his life in England and Greece, would return as a literal migrant to his own country. It was a theme that would prove fecund and deeply allegorical for the then 17-year-old son of authors George Johnston and Charmian Clift, later manifesting in his poetic works such as In Transit: a sprawling 14-part paean to Johnston’s immutable sense of displacement.
'A little over a decade before, in 1952, Greek poet Dimitris Tsaloumas would complete the same metamorphic journey, fleeing his Dodecanese homeland and arriving in Melbourne, Australia where he would take up the uneasy mantle of Australia’s Hellenic poet in exile. Despite parabolic overtures of assimilation, paradoxical themes of longing and dislocation pockmark Tsaloumas’s vast canon, tethering an uneasy union between his two divergent worlds both ancient and contemporary; familiar and profoundly alien.
'This essay explores the lives and comparative themes of exile in the works of both Johnston and Tsaloumas—writers who both identified as Xenos, a Greek word that translates as both ‘guest’ and ‘stranger’—and investigates the often incorporeal, irredeemable and contradictory natures of nostalgia and belonging.' (Publication abstract)
'They were writers, dreamers and free spirits. In the 1950s, Australian authors Charmian Clift and George Johnston fled halfway across the world to the idyllic Greek island of Hydra, determined to carve out a bohemian living as artists.
'As they revel in their picturesque community, far off the world’s literary map, inspiration for the great Australian work strikes. But a many-headed monster of jealousy, infidelity, illness and alcoholism also rises from the crystal blue waters of their sun-kissed island home.
'Award-winning Sue Smith weaves the original writings of two of Australia’s literary icons into a moving relationship drama. She conjures the passion and intensity of the near mythical ‘King and Queen of Hydra’ as they follow their dream, only to end up in a Greek tragedy of their own making.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
Richard Flanagan’s novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North represents yet another addition to the catalogue of Australian war experience literature. The awards and accompanying praise the novel has earned since its release in 2013 reflects a widespread appreciation of its ability to reimagine Australia in a saturated terrain. Flanagan’s novel can be read as a critique of the rise of militant nationalism emerging in the wake of Australia’s backing of Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and the idea that the arrival of boat refugees requires a military and militant response. This article discusses how the novel’s shift from battle heroics to the ordeal of POWs in the Thai jungle represents a reimagining – away from the preoccupation with epic battles – but not necessarily a challenge to the overriding emphasis on baptism of fire narratives as the only truly national narratives.
'A discussion of George Johnston's My Brother Jack in the light of two interviews with Jack and Pat Johnston on 29/7/1980 and 20/8/1980.' (Author's note.)