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Heseltine discusses Kendall's attempts to create a "literary" personality. In his search for a literary self Kendall explored aboriginal, biblical and classical themes. Kendall's quest to mythologize an uncertain self into a sustaining identity, Heseltine argues, enabled similar searches by Australia's later poets.
Heseltine employs a musical metaphor to show that the integrity of Lawson's great tales of the 1890s "resides in his determination to hold the balance between the spiritual wasteland he perceived in his own and other lives and the tantalising but illusory promise of rebirth he could not help but entertain".
Heseltine explores Langley's fascination with Oscar Wilde, arguing that Langley's fiction represents an inevitable transformation into the Irish writer. The events that lead to this transformation are dramatized in The Pea-pickers and White Topee as Eve uses others to bring her closer to the pleasures of aesthetic creation. At the end of the Pea-pickers Eve stands alone with her troubled self, but at the end of White Topee she stands alone with Oscar Wilde, the alter ego which has taken possession of her being.