Australia Literature

Australia Literature

In a long television overview of the Australia two hundred years after the first European settlement, broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on 1 January 1988, the year in which the bicentenary of the arrival of the First Fleet, the first contingent of British deportees, was celebrated in the penal colony of Botany Bay (Sydney), the only writers interviewed were P. White, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973, and C. McCullogh, author of The Thorn Birds (1977), best-selling international: both world-renowned writers – albeit for very different merits – but nevertheless unsuitable for representing the extreme vivacity and heterogeneity of the Australian literary world of the 1980s. Indeed, it is difficult to draw a coherent diagram of the literary and cultural development that occurred in Australia over the last thirty years.

On the other hand, it is relatively simpler to follow its development from the First World War to the 1950s, until the literary scene was dominated by the culture of Great Britain, the homeland of the majority of Australians. The characteristic features of Australian literature had arisen precisely from the particular experience that these white English emigrants had faced on Australian soil: the arid land, the sunny landscape, the enormous extensions difficult to dominate, very different from the green and familiar English countryside, provoked a sense of nostalgia and melancholy; the contrast between the relatively few human settlements all along the coast and the almost depopulated interior, the bush or outback, gave a feeling of uprooting and isolation tinged with profound pessimism, redeemed only by that special English-style humor that he had assumed in Australia more light-hearted and mocking tones. The bush was also felt, however, as a privileged place where that camaraderie, that mateship, that democratic egalitarianism that had been created and institutionalized as a typically Australian trait could be established first among the deportees at the beginning of the nineteenth century and then among the seekers of gold from 1850 onwards.

The English lyric tradition (Kipling, Eliot, Yeats, Auden) and, in the last three decades, the American (in particular Lowell, Duncan and Oppen) could not fail to exert a decisive influence on Australian poetry; but the caution with which these models have been used testifies to the fragility of the poetic tradition in Australia, and at the same time the need to find an autonomous path that possessed its own identity in the context of poetry in the English language. The need to group around magazines, influential figures, literary movements was significant.

Vision magazine appeared in 1923, spokesperson for the writer N. Lindsay (1879-1969) who had already exposed his ideas about poetry in A in Creative efforts (1920): while accepting some aspects of modernism, he did not approve of writers like J Joyce or DH Lawrence and suggested instead to go back to the great tradition of Latin poets like Catullus or English like Marlowe. Although Vision was short-lived (it only came out for two years), it provoked different and opposing reactions. According to R. Ingamells (1912-1955), founder of the Jindyworobak movement(in the aboriginal language “to unite”, “to connect”), the poem, while remaining faithful to the European heritage, had to reflect the environment from which it sprang. The movement continued and developed some trends already present in Australian culture, such as the contrast between city and bush, between the irrelevance of man and the grandeur of nature, which will lead to the rich flowering of poetry on nature of the 1940s, with writers such as D. Stewart, D. Campbell and J. Wright.

Precisely to oppose the insularity of the Jindyworobak, M. Harris founded the Angry Penguins, who advocated internationalism, surrealism and modernism in all its facets. To reduce the excessive modernism of the Angry Penguins, two poets, J. McAuley and H. Stewart, released a series of poems composed in the space of an afternoon in 1944 in the Angry Penguins magazine by putting together quotes from the most varied poems: they titled this sort of zibaldone The darkening eclipticand published it under the false name of Ern Malley. The joke, known in the history of Australian literature as The Ern Malley Hoax, served to draw the public’s attention to what was happening in Australian poetry and sparked a long and long-standing series of debates between proponents of a more traditional way of making poetry and proponents of experimentalism.

If these schematizations serve to understand the evolution of poetry in Australia, they are of little help when one intends to frame the best poets. Although indebted to Eliot, Pound and the Imagists, K. Slessor (1901-1971), the most important poet between the two wars, succeeded both in content and form in opening new avenues in Australian poetry. And if Slessor’s poetry communicates the sense of the flow of life and human transience, the verses of RD FitzGerald (1902-1987), together with Slessor the most important writer of this period, explore the need to explain, justify and understand meanings and reasons of reality, the connections between past and present.

Poet, critic, fine essayist, AD Hope – whose debut dates back to the late thirties, but who only in 1955 published his first, significant collection, The wandering islands – is considered the great patriarch of Australian poetry: born in 1907, is still active today. Measured, ironic, full of literary, biblical and mythological allusions dropped into traditional rhythms and forms, Hope’s poetry has been defined as classical, academic, intellectual. Also J. McAuley (1917-1976) in his best works (Under Aldebaran, 1946; A vision of ceremony, 1956; Captain Quiros, 1964) uses Greek mythology or attempts at exploration of the southern hemisphere to criticize modern civilization and affirm traditional moral and spiritual values. On the other hand, the poetry of J. Wright (b. 1915), poetess, essayist, novelist and tenacious environmentalist, is firmly linked to the Australian environment. After the first collection of poems, The moving image (1946), which was greeted with great enthusiasm by critics, Wright in subsequent syllogs (Woman to man, 1949; Birds, 1962; The other half, 1966) deals with the relationship between the European image of the Australia and the Australian reality, the aborigines, the suffering of alienated and lonely people, the natural and animal world constantly threatened by human greed. The Australian environment is also the subject of the poems of D. Stewart (1913-1985), poet, critic, curator of Red Page from 1940 to 1961 – the literary page of the Bulletin -, editorial consultant of the publishing house Angus & Robertson, tireless discoverer of new talents.

The love for the generalizations typical of FitzGerald and McCauley poetry is gradually giving way to a type of poetry characterized by precise annotations, by the emphasis on details and concrete observations, by the effort to be simply and entirely oneself. In recent decades, poets have shown themselves to be more integrated into the world around them, and increasingly rarely express the sense of alienation and exile that had been one of the recurring themes in previous poetry. This new existential attitude has produced a crop of autobiographical poems both from active poets such as J. McAuley, D. Campbell, R. Dobson, John Blight, and from writers starting to publish in the 1960s, such as V. Buckley, L. Murray, B. Beaver, D. Malouf, R. Stow, G. Hardwood, P. Porter. L’ absence of a historical past, so acutely felt by previous generations, gives way to a new attitude towards the past and a new faith in the continuity of the Australian poetic tradition. If previous writers were concerned with describing, defining, narrating their country, now poets establish a dialogue with the past, close relationships with previous poets and their cultural heritage. Some, such as L. Murray and G. Lehman, create their own personal mythology based on family history; the Australian tradition is no longer rejected in favor of other older traditions. As N. Palmer had argued, Australian literature had to develop taking into account its past, its problems and its resources, and also the external influences that could enrich it. This seems to be the path that poetry has taken in recent years, also enriched by the experiences of particular groups. Aboriginal poets such as K. Walker and K. Gilbert, ethnic poets such as Australia Kefala, the large number of poetesses, which materialized with the publication of The Penguin Book of Australian women poets, are a tangible testimony of the vivacity and at the same time of the ” Australianness ” that is characterizing poetry in the New Continent.

If the best nineteenth-century novels such as The recollections of Geof fry Hamlyn (1859) by H. Kingsley, For the term of his natural life (1874) by M. Clarke, Robbery under arms (1888) by R. Boldrewood, Jonah (1911) by L. Stone, Such is life (1903) by J. Furphy, and the stories of H. Lawson (1867-1922) and B. Baynton (1857-1929) had shown the conditions of the Australian reality, the narrative of the Novecento seeks to transform the events and experiences of the previous century by providing an image of the Australian past and present in which the nation can recognize itself.

The novels take the form of picaresque sagas or tales, always interwoven with historical data and national events. Together with A house is built (1929) by M. Barnard Eldershaw (pseud. By F. Eldershaw and M. Barnard) and Landtakers (1934) by B. Penton, they occupy a place of honor in this tradition All that swagger (1936 ) by M. Franklin (1879-1954) and the cycle of stories dedicated to different families of pioneers, which the author herself signs under the pseudonym of Brent of Bin Bin. Franklin had achieved success with My brilliant career (1901), a pleasant semi- autobiographical bildungsroman, which preceded a novel of the same type, The getting of wisdom, by a decade.(1910) by HH Richardson (pseud. Of EF Robertson, 1870-1946), the best writer of this period. Richardson in her trilogy The fortunes of Richard Mahony (Australia Felix, 1917; The way home, 1925; Ultima Thule, 1929) also traces the Australian past from the gold rush to Ballarat in 1850 to 1930, to tell the psychological tragedy of his father, an emigrated English doctor, who by now uprooted from his native England is unable to fit into the social and environmental reality of the acquired residence.

The complicated relations with the motherland were more topical than ever after the First World War: for the first time in fact the Australian people were participating in an armed conflict and confronting each other internationally. The war did not only provide the theme for some novels (V. Palmer’s Daybreak, 1932; Intimate strangers by KS Prichard, 1937), but in addition to arousing horror at the inhuman European violence, it strengthened a national awareness. In all the works of the writers of these years there is a deep bond with their own country and a notable literary commitment: the most valid testimony of this is the works of two writers who can be defined as the dominant figures of the period between the two wars, the already mentioned V. Palmer (1885-1959), narrator, essayist, publisher, poet and playwright, and, with his wife Nettie, generous and zealous advocate of an Australian literature as autonomous as possible, author of the novels The Passage (1930), Legend for Sanderson (1937) and the Golconda trilogy(1948, 1957, 1959); and KS Prichard (1883-1969), storyteller and playwright, founding member of the Communist Party of Australia; in Black opal (1921), in Working bullocks (1926), in the stories and comedies he analyzes the various social categories of his time, and in Coonardoo (1929) he probes the relationships between the aborigines and the white man in a prose with rhythms slow and ancestral, typical of Aboriginal culture. The treatment of Chinese aborigines and immigrants and the social conditions of the Northern Territory are also the themes of Capricornia (1934), a novel by X. Herbert (1901-1984).

In the forties, together with authors such as Franklin and Herbert, such as S. Mackenzie, E. Dark, D. Cusack, who continue to publish novels, small masterpieces of short fiction come out, among which the It’s harder for girls (1942) and Birds of a feather (1943) by G. Casey, The persimmon tree (1943) by M. Bernard, Drift (1944) by P. Cowan. Within the realist tradition typical of novels and short fiction of this period, novels such as Seven poor men of Sydney (1934), The man who loved children (1940) and For love alone emerge.(1944) by C. Stead (1902-1983), the latter writer who, despite living in Europe and the United States, constantly returns to the Australian past by recreating social environments in which the characters’ feelings, sensations and psychological conflicts are probed. Also M. Boyd (1893-1972), another expatriate writer, in Lucinda Brayford (1946) and in the tetralogy on the Langton family analyzes the events of the protagonists divided between Europe and Australia in search of moral and spiritual values ​​threatened by modern materialism.

A new phase in Australian literature opens with The aunt’s story (1948) by P. White, an indefatigable writer of novels, short stories and comedies, and undoubtedly the most notable personality on the literary scene of the last three decades (see App. IV, iii, p. 854). “True knowledge comes only from death by torture in the domain of the mind,” says Voss, protagonist of White’s novel of the same name (1957); and To the islands (1958) by R. Stow is one of the first novels to retrace Voss’s excursion into the realm of the spirit, into the strange land of the soul: realism, symbolism, myth, allegory mix and combine to create narrative techniques the sense of isolation from which man suffers,

From the seventies onwards, aborigines, new immigrants, feminists, social groups previously considered marginal have assumed an ever greater importance in the Australian cultural panorama, resizing the white Anglo-Saxon tradition. The Australia, felt and presented as a depopulated and hostile land in the 1950s, is now perceived as a symbolic place that reflects the condition of modern man. It is no longer up to writers alone to develop this new image of the country: historians, sociologists, artists, filmmakers, environmentalists are redefining Australia’s geographical and cultural coordinates. THERE. it has always been defined, argues G. Blaney in The tyranny of distance (1966), in terms of distances both external to other continents and internal to the country itself; now that ties with England have loosened, the nation is in danger of drifting away or, as demonstrated in the next book All for Australia (1986), will align with neighboring Asia from which nearly all new immigrants come. In A short history of Australia (1963, 1986) M. Clark has an even more pessimistic view of his country, marred first by English philistinism and later by American and Japanese materialism. Ironic is the position of D. Horne, who in his hugely popular book The lucky country (1964) defines the to. “a fortunate country ruled by second-rate people” living in the most blissful isolationism. The growing desire to understand the Australian role on the international scene, and in particular relations with Asia, is testified by novels such as The year of living dangerously (1978) by C. Koch, A cry in the Jungle Bar (1979) by R. Drewe, Visitants (1979) by R. Stow, Monkeys in the dark (1980) and Turtle Beach (1981) by B. d’Alpuget, The children must dance (1984) by T. Maniaty. Set in East Asian countries, these novels often feature journalists who, while aware of the geographical proximity of their country, realize their inability to understand the events and culture in which they operate.

On the other hand, relations with countries that are geographically more distant, but closer culturally, are the theme of many works by ” expatriates ”, writers suspended between two cultures but for this very reason capable of filtering through memory the truest and most poetic aspects of the motherland.: in addition to Stow’s The merry-go-round in the sea (1965), we can cite The transit of Venus (1980) by S. Hazzard, Johnno (1975) and An imaginary life (1978) by D. Malouf.

The new immigrants, on the other hand, no longer linked to their culture of origin and not yet happily integrated into the Australian context, question the traditional image of an Australia democratic, egalitarian, dominated by male and nationalist values. Thus arises such satires as They ‘re a weird mob (1957) by N. Culotta (pseud. By J. O’Grady); or, in the seventies, writers such as J. Waten, Australia Kefala, R. Cappiello, D. Tsaloumas, Ee Tiang Hong, who are also encouraged to publish by the multicultural policy pursued by the government. Special programs have also boosted Aboriginal art and culture. Autobiographies, novels, short stories have come out in both Aboriginal language and English. In addition to the already affirmed C. Johnson, My place by S. Morgan, recently published, has become a bestseller.

In the Australian literature of the Eighties, the city has assumed an increasingly important importance. The Sydney that White in the novels of the seventies had replaced the village of Sarsaparilla of the previous works, is a fascinating but at the same time unpleasant place; the Sydney of the stories of F. Moorhouse, who arrived from a provincial city, and M. Wilding, an English immigrant, or D. Hewett, who grew up in the more traditionalist society of Australia western, becomes the crossroads of a thousand experiences, a liberating place. The dilapidated neighborhoods of central Melbourne are the privileged place of H. Gardner’s novels (Monkey Grip, 1977).

Life in the bush continues to provide the material for family sagas, a literary genre still very much in vogue: O. Master in A long time dying (1985) explores the lives of numerous families in an inland town; the most famous Australian saga, Thornbirds (1977; trans. it., Uccelli di rovo, 1978) by C. McCullogh, focuses on the history of a Catholic family; in Illywacher (1985) P. Carey, winner in 1988 of the prestigious Booker Prize for Oscar and Lucinda, uses the saga in a completely original way. In recent years there are more and more novels and short stories that analyze the problems and the position of women in Australian society. Such and such is the importance in Australian culture of writers such as E. Jolley, E. Harrower, J. Anderson, S. Dowse, K. Grenville, B. Hanrahan, G. Tomasetti, N. Gere, that it is now widespread opinion that in Australia you have to be a woman to be able to publish a book.

Despite the success of R. Lawler ‘s Summer of the seventeenth doll (1955) and Australia Seymour ‘s The one day of the year (1969), theater entrepreneurs were reluctant to stage Australian plays until the 1960s. preferring the already tried and tested classical English repertoire. And it was not the state funding and the support of the theaters, only later fundamental, that caused the explosion of theatrical works of the late 1960s that has been called ” new wave ”. Norm and Ahmed (1969) by Australia Buzo, The legend of King O. Malley (1970) by M. Boddy and B. Ellis, Marvelous Melbourne (1970) by J. Hibbert and J. Romeril, The feet of Daniel Mannix (1971) by B. Oakley, The Removalists by D. Williams have as a common feature the colorful Australian vernacular which serves to proclaim independence and difference from English theater. The importance of language is also demonstrated by the large amount of monologues written in recent years, the most famous of which is A stretch of the imagination (1971) by J. Hibbert.

According to LOCALBUSINESSEXPLORER, the protagonist of these comedies is generally the ocker, the young Austrian coarse, boorish, uncultivated, great talker, heavy drinker and good sexual performance, violator of any respectability by choice, not by necessity or nature.

From the recurring themes of these comedies – concern to define one’s own identity through language, circular structure, emphasis on the masculinity of Australian society – P. White stands out, who (as already in The ham funeral and The season at Sarsaparilla) in Big toys (1977) and Signal driver (1982) explores the loneliness, alienation and problematic nature of contemporary Australian society through realism, symbolism, fantasy, and D. Hewett, who in his comedies (The chapel perilous, 1972; Bob -bons and roses for Dolly, 1972; The tatty hollow story, 1974; The man from Makinupin, 1979) mixes different styles and uses different verbal, visual and musical effects to explore the romantic, imaginative, sexual and sometimes brutal life of her heroines.

In the late 1970s, Australian theater seemed to have fallen prey to a crisis: coupled with an ongoing shortage of funds was a notable decline in the effort to define one’s identity through the language of the average Australian. But L. Nowra, S. Sewell and R. Elisha, the second generation playwrights, began to set their plays outside of the A .; their looking outside their country was actually the most effective way to examine the inside of their own culture, as their subsequent works have demonstrated: Inside the island (1980), Spellbound (1982) and Sunrise (1983) by Nowra; The blind giant is dancing (1983), Dreams in an empty city (1986) by Sewell. If the works of the preceding period were concerned with representing the ways in which Australians perceive their culture, the more recent works by Nowra, Sewell, Hewett and Williams reflect a search for the myths that can help understand the forces that produced that culture..

Literary magazines have played a very important role: MeanjinSoutherly and Overland place the accent on the social, political, psychoanalytical aspects of literature; Westerly and Island Magazine tend to examine aspects of the regional literature respectively to the. Western and Tasmanian; Australian Literary Studies welcomes critical studies of different approaches, semiotic, structural, deconstructionist analyzes; The Age Monthly Review he often publishes critical theory debates. The often too specialized language of the essays has aroused protests in the name of that typically Australian democratic egalitarianism, and has given rise to disputes that testify to the liveliness and interest of the literary world on the purpose and role of criticism in national life.

Australia Literature