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Literary Sidelights on Wartime Brisbane single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2004... 2004 Literary Sidelights on Wartime Brisbane
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'There have been several anecdotal accounts of the literary scene in Brisbane during World War II and numerous references in more general works. In 2000, Queensland Review published some reminiscences of writers Estelle Runcie Pinney, Don Munro, Val Vallis and David Rowbotham, under the title ‘Writing in Brisbane during the Second World War’. Some of the more important general works include Judith Wright's ‘Brisbane in Wartime’, Lynne Strahan's history of Meanjin and Judith Armstrong's biographical work on the Christesens, The Christesen Romance. My interest in this subject arose from editing Judith Wright's autobiography, Half a Lifetime, published in 1999, and recently in editing, with her daughter, letters between Judith Wright and Jack McKinney which were mainly written in Brisbane in the later years of the war and the immediate postwar period. Initially my purpose was to gather information to elucidate people or events mentioned in these writings, but my interest widened to embrace more general information about the period. My research led me to the conclusion that Meanjin and its editor Clem Christesen were catalysts for many of the literary activities in Brisbane during World War II, not just among resident Australians, but among troops temporarily stationed in Brisbane — particularly Americans, whom Christesen cultivated and published. This article records a few glimpses of literary life in Brisbane, and incidentally in the rest of the country, during a period described by Patrick Buckridge as never having been researched ‘in enough detail’.' (Extract)

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  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Queensland Review vol. 11 no. 2 December 2004 Z1175338 2004 periodical issue

    'Thea Astley - the great Queensland novelist, who died in August 2004 at the age of 78 - famously expounded the notion that Queensland is quite unlike anywhere else. Even when familiar cultural elements are present, she argued, they are combined so incongruously here as to produce an utterly distinctive environment:

    It's all in the antitheses. The contrasts. The contradictions. Queensland means living in townships called Dingo and Banana and Gunpowder. Means country pubs with nvelve-foot ceilings and sagging floors, pub which, ,while bending gently and sadly sideways, still keep up the starched white table-cloths, the heavy duty silver, the typed menu. Means folk singers like Thel and Rick whom I once followed through to Clermont on that lecture-tour while they cleaned up culturally ahead of me; but it also meant listening to the now extinct State Queensland String Quartet playing the Nigger Quartet in my fourth-class room among the sticks of chalk, the tattered textbooks~ means pushing our way through some rainforest drive laced with wait-a-while to hear the Lark Ascending, or more suitably, the Symphonie Fantastique crashing through the last of the banana thickets.

    Many of Astley's novels and short stories explore the ways in which Queensland enters and shapes her characters' bodies and minds. Astley's biting humour, her vivid evocations of excess in the tropics, and her elusive search for spiritual . authenticity in a stolen land are - at least in part - products of the quirky, infuriating, but also deeply creative environment in which she grew up.' (Editorial) 

    pg. 41-57
Last amended 1 Aug 2019 12:25:31
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