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The modern Australian novel : a study of theme, characterisation and background.

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Horner, JC (1952) The modern Australian novel : a study of theme, characterisation and background. Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Between nineteen-twenty and the present day Australian novelists have, in the settings of their works, ranged widely over the Australian continent, and have peopled their creations with characters representative of very many aspects of our complex national life. Geographically this section of our literature moves from the western forests of K.S. Prichard's "Working Bullocks" to the eastern seaports of Vance Palmer's "Cyclone", from the extreme north of Xavier Herbert's "Capricornia", southward to the Van Diemen's Land of G.B. Lancaster's "Pageant". The setting is now the great and crowded city of Christina Stead's "Seven
Poor Men of Sydney", now the great loneliness of Brian Pentons "Landtakers"; now the burning desert of Idriess's "Lasseteres Last Ride", now the luxuriant sub-tropics of Vance Palmer's "The Passage". Heroes and heroines are usually white, but sometimes black, as in "Coonardoo", sometimes half-caste, as in "Capricornia", sometimes even animal, as in "Manshy". The characters include the-very-rich of "A House is Built" and
the very poor of "Foveaux", the job-hunting nomads of "The Battlers" and the deeply-rooted timber-workers of "Working Bullocks", the coal-miners of "The Earth Cries Out" and the wool-growers of "Southern Saga", the pioneers of "All That Swagger" and the idle rich of "Come in Spinner". Nor, in the presentation of Australian life, are our novels less comprehensive in time than in space. We may travel down the years from the earliest settlement of Eleanor Dark's "The Timeless Land", through the extension of settlement, the opening up of the inland, the gold rushes, the First World War, the depression years, the Second World War, to the present post-war age of Dymphna Cusack's "Say No to Death".
H.M. Green says of the Australian literature of this half-century that " with all its defects and limitations it represents an extraordinary achievement for fifty years." It is a remarkable achievement for a country as young as Australia to have produced, in so short a time, a literature which can be regarded as "national", and, of course; such a literature could not have come into existence except as a continuation of, and, at the same time, a divergence from, a parent literature. It is a continuation of English literature in that it uses the English language and inherits, along with other English literatures, a literary tradition extending over many centuries. It is divergent in that it is the literature of a somewhat isolated people, having their own peculiar social conditions and social outlook; a literature produced
in an environment physically and socially different from that which produced the parent literature, exploiting its own native themes and gradually developing a language of its own. But, for a people or an environment to be different is not, in itself, any guarantee of the production of a national literature. On the contrary, it is very improbable that any national literature will be produced in a new country which provides interest or inspiration only because of its differences from a mother country. There will be no distinctive national outlook, and consequently, no distinctive national literature, till these new conditions come to be regarded as normal conditions, till the new way of life is accepted as the normal way of life. Thus, for a period of over a hundred years from the first settlement at Port Jackson, very little literature of any note was produced in Australia. Yet this was one of the great ages of English literature, particularly of the English novel. It was the age of Dickens, of Thackeray, Jane Austin, Meredith, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, of Mrs. Gaskell, George Eliot and a host of minor writers.

Item Type: Thesis (Unspecified)
Keywords: Australian fiction
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1952 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1953

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:29
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2017 05:25
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