- Australian literature
Australian literature began soon after the settlement of the country by
Europeans. Common themes include indigenous and settler identity, alienation, exile and relationship to place - but it is a varied and contested area.
Early popular works tended to be of the 'ripping yarn' variety, telling tales of derring-do against the new
frontierof the Australian outback. Writers such as Rolf Boldrewood, Marcus Clarkeand Joseph Furphyembodied these stirring ideals in their tales and, particularly the latter, tried to accurately record the vernacularlanguage of the common Australian. These novelists also gave valuable insights into the penal colonies which helped form the country and also the early rural settlements.
Australia’s first novel, "Quintus Servinton: A Tale founded upon Incidents of Real Occurrence" was written and published in Tasmania in 1831. It was written by the convicted English forger
Henry Saveryand published anonymously though the authorship became a public secret. It is regarded as a thinly disguised autobiography designed to demonstrate how his fictional equivalent was different from the general convict population.cite web | last = Turcotte | first = G. | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1998 | url = http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1060&context=artspapers | title = Australian Gothic | format = pdf - 12 pages | work = Faculty of Arts - Papers | publisher = University of Wollongong | accessdate = 2008-01-09]
In 1838 "The Guardian: a tale" by
Anna Maria Bunnwas published in Sydney. It was the first Australian novel printed and published in mainland Australia and the first Australian novel written by a woman. It is a Gothic romance.
Poetryplayed an important part in the founding of Australian literature. Two poets who are amongst the great Australian poets are Christopher Brennanand Adam Lindsay Gordon; Gordon was once referred to as the " national poetof Australia" and is the only Australian with a monument in Poets' Cornerof Westminster Abbeyin England.
Both Gordon’s and Brennan's (but particularly Brennan’s) works conformed to traditional styles of poetry, with many classical allusions, and therefore fell within the domain of high culture. However, at the same time Australia was blessed with a competing, vibrant tradition of
folk songs and ballads. Henry Lawsonand Banjo Patersonwere two of the chief exponents of these popular ballads, and ‘Banjo’ himself was responsible for creating what is probably the most famous Australian verse, " Waltzing Matilda". Romanticised views of the outbackand the rugged characters that inhabited it played an important part in shaping the Australian nation’s psyche, just as the cowboysof the American Old Westand the gauchosof the Argentine pampabecame part of the self-image of those nations.
Prominent Australian poets of the
twentieth centuryinclude A. D. Hope, Judith Wright, Gwen Harwood, Kenneth Slessor, Les Murray and more recently John Forbes and John Tranter. More recent and emerging Australian poets include Judith Beveridgeand Andrew Slattery.
Contemporary Australian poetry is mostly published by small and independent book publishers. However, other kinds of publication, including new media and online journals, spoken word and live events, and public poetry projects are gaining an increasingly vibrant and popular presence.
The Red Room Company, based in Sydney, is one of the most active and innovative companies in this field.
Writing and Identity
A complicated, multi-faceted relationship to Australia is displayed in much Australian writing, often through writing about landscape.
Barbara Baynton's short stories from the late 1800s/early 1900s convey people living in the bush, a landscape that is alive but also threatening and alienating. Kenneth Cook's "Wake in Fright" (1961) portrayed the outback as a nightmare with a blazing sun, from which there is no escape. Colin Thiele's novels reflected the life and times of rural and regional Australians in the 20th century, showing aspects of Australian life unknown to many city dwellers.
What it means to be Australian is another issue that Australian literature explores.
Miles Franklinstruggled to find a place for herself as a female writer in Australia, fictionalising this experience in "My Brilliant Career" (1901). Marie Bjelke Petersen's popular romance novels, published between 1917 and 1937, offered a fresh upbeat interpretation of the Australian bush. The central character in Patrick White's "The Twyborn Affair" tries to conform to expectations of pre-WWII Australian masculinity but cannot, and instead, post-war, tries out another identity - and gender - overseas. Peter Carey has toyed with the idea of a national Australian identity as a series of 'beautiful lies', and this is a recurrent theme in his novels. Andrew McGahan's "Praise" (1992) and Christos Tsiolkas's "Loaded" (1995) introduced a 'gritty realism' take on questions of Australian identity in the 1990s, though an important precursor to such work was Helen Garner's "Monkey Grip" (1977).
Australian literature has had several scandals surrounding the identity of writers. The 1944
Ern Malleyaffair led to an obscenity trial and is often blamed for the lack of modernistpoetry in Australia. In the 1990s, Helen Darvilleused the pen-name “Helen Demidenko” and won major literary prizes for her "Hand that Signed the Paper" before being discovered, sparking a controversy over the content of her novel, a fictionalised and highly tendentious account of the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine. Mudrooroo- previously known as Colin Johnson - was acclaimed as an Aboriginal writer until his Aboriginality came under question (his mother was Irish/English and his father was Irish/African-American, however he has strong connections with Aboriginal tribes); he now avoids adopting a specific ethnic identity and his works deconstruct such notions.
Other writers have felt that, whatever Australia was, it needed to be escaped.
Clive James, Robert Hughes, Barry Humphriesand Germaine Greerare all Australian writers who left Australia in the 1960s for England and America. Greer, author of The Female Eunuch, has spent much of her career in England and has been a fierce critic of her native land, and she does not return there often.
Australian literature can be thought of as coming of age in
1973when Patrick Whitebecame the first (and so far only) Australian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. (2003 laureate John M. Coetzeelives in Adelaide, South Australia, but was born in South Africa and is not widely regarded as Australian.) Other notable writers to have emerged since the 1970s include Peter Carey, Kate Grenville, David Malouf, Janette Turner Hospitaland Tim Winton. James Clavellin The Asian Sagadiscusses an important feature of Australian literature: its portrayal of far eastern culture, from the admittedly even further east, but nevertheless western cultural viewpoint, as Nevil Shutedid. Clavell was also a successful screenwriterand along with such writers as Thomas Keneally, who won the Booker Prize for " Schindler's Ark" (the book " Schindler's List" is based on), has expanded the topics of Australian literature far beyond that one country. Other novelists to use international themes are Gerald Murnaneand Brenda Walker.
The voices of indigenous Australians have begun to be noticed and include the
playwrightJack Davis, Kevin Gilbert, and poet and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Sally Morgan's "My Place" was considered a breakthrough memoir in terms of bringing indigenous stories to wider notice.
The allegedly indigenous writer
Mudrooroowas later shown not to be indigenous, but of Irish, English, and African-American descent. [ [http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=3241 The Literary Encyclopedia] ]
Writers coming to prominence in the 21st century include
Alexis Wrightand Tara June Winch.
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Crime fictiongenre is currently thriving in Australia, most notably through books written by Kerry Greenwood, Shane Maloney, Peter Temple, Barry Maitlandand Peter Corris, among others.
History has been an important discipline in the development of Australian writing. A significant milestone was the
historian Manning Clark's six volume "History of Australia", which is regarded by some as the definitive account of the nation. Also important was art critic Robert Hughes' much-debated history "The Fatal Shore".
Most recent Australian literary journals have originated from universities - and specifically English or Communications departments. They include:
Other journals include:
* " [http://www.sleeperspublishing.com/ Sleepers Almanac] "
* " [http://www.goingdownswinging.org.au/ Going Down Swinging] "
Australian Book Review"
* " [http://www.pageseventeen.com.au Page Seventeen] "
A number of newspapers also carry literary review supplements:
* " [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/index/0,,25132,00.html Australian Literary Review]
Established online journals include:
* " [http://www.cordite.org.au/ Cordite Poetry Review] "
* " [http://jacketmagazine.com/00/home.shtml Jacket Magazine] "
Current literary awards in Australia include:
Anne Elder Award
The Australian/Vogel Literary Award
Children's Book Council of Australia
Ditmar AwardScience Fiction (includes Fantasy & Horror)
Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry
Mary Gilmore Prizefor a first book of poetry
Miles Franklin Award
New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards
Patrick White Award
Queensland Premier's Literary Awards
Victorian Premier's Literary Award
Western Australian Premier's Book Awards
Australian authors are also eligible for a number of other significant awards such as:
Commonwealth Writers Prize
Man Booker Prize
Orange Prize for Fiction
List of Australian literary awardsfor a more comprehensive listing of Australian literary awards.
List of Australian novelists
List of Australian poets
Australian performance poetry
List of Australian literary awards
New South Wales Premier's History Awards
Australian History Awards
* [http://www.abpa.org.au Australian Bush Poets Association]
* [http://www.bushpoetry.org.au Australian Bush Poetry]
* *The [http://gutenberg.net.au/pgaus.html Library of Australiana] page at [http://gutenberg.net.au Project Gutenberg of Australia]
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