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Modernism in Australia (6AAEC054)
Semester 2 / 2014


The Drover's Wife Henry Lawson , 1892 single work short story (taught in 3 units)
— Appears in: Aus einer neuen Literatur : Australische Erzählungen und Plaudereien 1906; The Drover's Wife : A Celebration of a Great Australian Love Affair 2017; (p. 3-14)

— Appears in: The Bulletin , 23 July vol. 12 no. 649 1892; (p. 21-22) Short Stories in Prose and Verse 1894; (p. 26-39) While the Billy Boils 1896; (p. 127-138) The Bulletin Story Book : A Selection of Stories and Literary Sketches from 'The Bulletin' [1881-1901] 1901; (p. 75-83) The Observer , 17 April vol. 72 no. 5537 1915; (p. 4) Australian Short Stories 1928; (p. 176-185)

— Appears in: The School Paper for Classes V and VI , August no. 143 1911; (p. 106-109) The School Paper for Grades VII and VIII , March no. 299 1925; (p. 18-21) The School Paper : Grades VII and VIII , February no. 309 1926; (p. 2-5) The School Paper : Grades VII and VIII , September no. 349 1929; (p. 122-125) Victorian Readers : Fifth Book 1930; (p. 24-29) Victorian Readers : Fifth Book 1940; (p. 22-27)

— Appears in: Cerita Dari Australia 1974; (p. 4-31)

— Appears in: Australische Erzähler von Marcus Clarke bis Patrick White 1984; (p. 36-44)

— Appears in: Crocevia : Scritture Straniere, Migranti e di Viaggio , Estate vol. 5/6 no. 2005; (p. 69-75)

First appearing in The Bulletin in 1892, Henry Lawson's short story 'The Drovers Wife' is today regarded as a seminal work in the Australian literary tradition. Noted for it's depiction of the bush as harsh, potentially threatening and both isolated and isolating, the story opens with a simple enough premise: an aggressive--and presumably deadly--snake disrupts the working life of a bushwoman and her young children. Brave but cautious, the woman resolves to protect her children since her husband is, characteristically, away from home and of no help. 

As time passes within the story, tension builds, and the snake's symbolic threat takes on layers of meaning as the sleepless heroine recalls previous challenges she faced while her husband was away. A series of flashbacks and recollections propel the story through the single night over which it takes place, and by the time the climax arrives--the confrontation with the snake--readers have learned much about the heroine's strengths and fears, most of the latter involving the loss of children and dark figures who encroach upon her small, vulnerable homestead. To be sure, this "darkness" is highly symbolic, and Lawson's use of imagery invokes Western notions of good and evil as well as gendered and racial stereotypes. 

The Bush Undertaker A Christmas in the Far West, Or, the Bush Undertaker Henry Lawson , 1892 single work short story (taught in 1 units)
— Appears in: The Antipodean 1892; (p. 95-102) The Herald , 7 April no. 17751 1934; (p. 38) While the Billy Boils : The Original Newspaper Versions 2013; (p. 74-89)

— Appears in: (p. 229-239) Short Stories in Prose and Verse 1894; (p. [55]-71) While the Billy Boils 1896; (p. 229-239) Short Stories of Australia : The Lawson Tradition 1967; (p. 14-21) The Bush Undertaker and Other Stories 1970; (p. 11-17) While the Billy Boils : 87 Stories from the Prose Works of Henry Lawson 1970; (p. 139 - 146)
An old shepherd discovers his mate, Brummy, dead and mummified in the bush. Saddened, he feels compelled to bury him.
y separately published work icon All That Swagger Miles Franklin , Sydney : Bulletin , 1936 Z451516 1936 single work novel (taught in 2 units)
y separately published work icon The Getting of Wisdom Henry Handel Richardson , London : Heinemann , 1910 Z901329 1910 single work novel (taught in 25 units)

'A coming-of-age story of a spontaneous heroine who finds herself ensconced in the rigidity of a turn-of-the-century boarding school. The clever and highly imaginative Laura has difficulty fitting in with her wealthy classmates and begins to compromise her ideals in her search for popularity and acceptance.' (From the publisher's website.)

Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics
y separately published work icon Kangaroo D. H. Lawrence , 1923 New York (City) : Thomas Seltzer , 1923 Z120344 1923 single work novel (taught in 2 units)

Kangaroo, set in Australia, is D. H. Lawrence's eighth novel. He wrote the first draft in just forty-five days while living south of Sydney, in 1922, and revised it three months later in New Mexico. The descriptions of the country are among the most vivid and sympathetic ever penned, and the book fuses lightly disguised autobiography with an exploration of political ideas at an immensely personal level. His anxiety about the future of democracy, caught as it was in the turbulent cross currents of fascism and socialism, is only partly appeased by his vision of a new bond of comradeship between men based on their unique separateness. Lawrence's alter ego Richard Somers departs for America to continue his search.

Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (D. H. Lawrence)
y separately published work icon Brumby Innes : A Play in Three Acts Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1927 (Manuscript version)8304401 8304396 1927 single work drama (taught in 4 units)

Brumby Innes 'begins with a corroboree and, like Coonardoo, attempts to engage with a portrayal of Aboriginal life. Its central character, Brumby Innes, is a swaggering drunk who exploits the black workers on his station and abuses the women; he bears a close resemblance to Sam Geary in Coonardoo. Yet, Brumby Innes provides the central energy of the drama, and the celebration of that energy in the play conflicts with the dramatic critique of his sexism and racism. Brumby Innes's character exemplifies the ambivalent attitude in Prichard's work toward this type of male hero. Portrayed as stereotypically masculine, such characters are admired for their energetic, vital sexuality; yet, the extreme limitations of such maleness are also acknowledged.'

Source: Bird, Delys. 'Katharine Susannah Prichard.' Australian Writers, 1915-1950. Ed. Selina Samuels. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 260.

y separately published work icon The Darkening Ecliptic 'Ern Malley' , Melbourne : Reed and Harris , 1944 Z339108 1944 collected work poetry (taught in 4 units)
Poetry by AD Hope, James McAuley, Harold Stewart and Kenneth Slessor
y separately published work icon The Man Who Loved Children Christina Stead , New York (City) : Simon and Schuster , 1940 Z462160 1940 single work novel (taught in 19 units)

'Set in Washington during the 1930s, Sam and Henny Pollit are a warring husband and wife. Their tempestuous marriage, aggravated by too little money, lies at the centre of Stead's satirical and brilliantly observed novel about the relations between husbands and wives, and parents and children.

'Sam, a scientist, uses words as weapons of attack and control on his children and is prone to illusions of power and influence that fail to extend beyond his family. His wife Henny, who hails from a wealthy Baltimore family, is disastrously impractical and enmeshed in her own fantasies of romance and vengeance. Much of the care of their six children is left to Louisa, Sam's 14-year-old daughter from his first marriage. Within this psychological battleground, Louisa must attempt to make a life of her own.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (MUP).

The Ham Funeral Patrick White , 1947 single work drama (taught in 7 units)
— Appears in: Four Plays 1965; (p. 11-74) Collected Plays : Volume I 1985; (p. 11-74)
y separately published work icon The Aunt's Story Patrick White , London : Routledge , 1948 Z470389 1948 single work novel (taught in 27 units)

'With the death of her mother, middle-aged Theodora Goodman contemplates the desert of her life. Freed from the trammels of convention, she leaves Australia for a European tour and becomes involved with the residents of a small French hotel. But creating other people's lives, even in love and pity, can lead to madness. Her ability to reconcile joy and sorrow is an unbearable torture to her. On the journey home, Theodora finds there is little to choose between the reality of illusion and the illusion of reality. She looks for peace, even if it is beyond the borders of insanity.' (From the publisher's website.)

y separately published work icon Voss : A Novel Patrick White , London : Eyre and Spottiswoode , 1957 Z872480 1957 single work novel (taught in 33 units)

'Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naïve young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent. As hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his power to endure and to lead, his attachment to Laura gradually increases. Laura, waiting in Sydney, moves through the months of separation as if they were a dream and Voss the only reality.

'From the careful delineation of Victorian society to the sensitive rendering of hidden love to the stark narrative of adventure in the Australian desert, Patrick White's novel is a work of extraordinary power and virtuosity.'

Source: Random House Books (Sighted 21/09/2012)


This module introduces key works of modernist literature written in Australia, including novels and plays by the country’s most internationally acclaimed writers Christina Stead and Patrick White.