'Kenneth Slessor (1901-71) is one of Australia's finest poets and this is the definitive collection of 103 poems; all he had ever published. This is the author's selection of his work from 1919 to 1939, first published as One Hundred Poems in 1944 (with the addition of three further poems in 1957). It draws from his acclaimed books, Earth Visitors (1926), Cuckooz Contrey (1932) and Five Bells (1939). Introduced by Dennis Haskell, this selection includes Slessor's own piece about his work, 'Some Notes on the Poems'. From his historical series, 'Five Visions of Captain Cook', to his memorial to the loss of a friend, 'Five Bells', from the tragic landscape of El Alamein, made famous in 'Beach Burial', to the meditation 'Out of Time', Slessor's poetry continues to dazzle contemporary audiences.' (Publication summary)
My Brilliant Career was written by Stella Franklin (1879-1954) when she was just nineteen years old. The novel struggled to find an Australian publisher, but was published in London and Edinburgh in 1901 after receiving an endorsement from Henry Lawson. Although Franklin wrote under the pseudonym 'Miles Franklin', Lawson’s preface makes it clear that Franklin is, as Lawson puts it 'a girl.'
The novel relates the story of Sybylla Melvyn, a strong-willed young woman of the 1890s growing up in the Goulburn area of New South Wales and longing to be a writer.
Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.
'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.
'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (From the publisher's website.)
'Patrick White's brilliant 1961 novel, set in an Australian suburb, intertwines four deeply different lives. An Aborigine artist, a Holocaust survivor, a beatific washerwoman, and a childlike heiress are each blessed—and stricken—with visionary experiences that may or may not allow them to transcend the machinations of their fellow men. Tender and lacerating, pure and profane, subtle and sweeping, Riders in the Chariot is one of the Nobel Prize winner's boldest books. (Publication summary)
'A passionate and controversial novel set in turn-of-the-century Europe
'Henry Handel Richardson’s debut, published in London in 1908, is set in the music scene of Leipzig, a cosmopolitan centre for the arts drawing students from around the world—among them Maurice Guest, a young Englishman, who falls helplessly in love with an Australian woman, Louise Dufrayer. Maurice Guest is the story of this overwhelming passion.
'The novel was deemed too controversial to be published as Richardson intended, and she was forced to cut twenty thousand words from the original manuscript and tone down its language.' (Publication summary)
'Should a woman bear a child knowing that there are traces of insanity in her family? Linda Hainlin, niece of a famous biologist, was aware of the danger when she married Dr. Nigel Hendon, a practical idealist, whose creed was normality and the rational ordering of the world. This book tells how, years later, while temporarily deprived of her husband's sane companionship, Linda feels the oncoming of those homicidal impulses which presage madness. On this tragic theme, 'Prelude to Christopher' is written with strong literary art as a narrative of four days of crisis. The story goes back in memory to the happiness of Linda's love for Nigel, and forward in her frightened imagination to a future from which the strongest must flinch. Christopher, the unborn child, dominates terrific events in which he has no living part to play. The prelude to his birth is told with emotional power.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'Bush Studies is famous for its stark realism—for not romanticising bush life, instead showing all its bleakness and harshness.
'Economic of style, influenced by the great nineteenth-century Russian novelists, Barbara Baynton’s short-story collection presents the Australian bush as dangerous and isolating for the women who inhabit it.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
'Fifty-two of Henry Lawson's stories and sketches that he had first published in newspapers and magazines from 1888 onwards were gathered in his collection While the Billy Boils (Angus & Robertson, 1896). Lawson was not responsible for their ordering and he had to give ground on their texts, especially on his idiosyncratic presentation of wordings that helped to breathe life into his characters and situations. The present edition dismantles the fait accompli of 1896 by presenting the individual items in the chronological order of their first publication and with their original newspaper texts. This will allow a new appreciation of Lawson's writing, one that is attentive to his developing powers.
'The edition also facilitates a close study of Lawson's collaboration with the producers of the collection in 1896, in particular with his copy-editor Arthur W. Jose and publisher George Robertson. Facsimile images (available online) of the printer's copy that they prepared for While the Billy Boils supplement the edition's listing of the alterations that each of them made, revealing the textual history of each story or sketch.' (Publisher's blurb)
'Set in the charming and deadly streets of Melbourne, this vivid and brilliantly plotted murder thriller tells the story of a crime committed by an unknown assassin. With its panoramic depiction of a bustling yet uneasy city, Hansom Cab has a central place in Australian literary history and, more importantly, it remains highly readable. ' (Publication summary)
This unit examines a selection of Australian works that have - or have not - achieved the status of 'classics'. It will explore both theoretically and historically the processes of literary canon formation and the economy of literary prestige, developing techniques of close reading while also attending to the wider social contexts of reception and reputation-making both nationally and internationally.
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