Australian Literature

By | October 21, 2021

Australian literature, term for the literature of Australia from the 19th to the middle of the 20th century.

The history of Australian literature is the history of the colonial past, the gradual break away from the model of British literature and adaptation to the realities of the new country. See for the worlds 8 most beautiful state flags.

Since its inception, Australian literature has been characterized by four thematic focuses:

  1. dealing with the culture of the indigenous people (Aborigines),
  2. the endeavor to adequately reflect the scenic features of the country and the relationship of the people to them,
  3. the struggle for a historical and cultural identity,
  4. the almost ubiquitous dream of a paradise on Australian soil (»Australian dream«).

Colonial phase (1788–1890)

The colonial phase (1788–1890) is characterized by the continued effect of the forms and styles brought with them from the mother country. The earliest literary form was the diary, the prose of which emulated the style ideal of the 18th century. The beginnings of the novel lay in convict narratives and regional histories, in which the English reading public – rarely authentic, more often fictitious – lived in the colony (convict system, indigenous people, fauna and flora, the bush) with the conventions of the neoclassical, later Victorian narrative prose (Henry Savery, * 1791, † 1842; R. Boldrewood ; H. Kingsley; M. Clarke ). The early one Lyric style and form followed the poetry of the Augustan period. Ode, pastoral, elegy, satire and epigram were among the preferred genres. With C. Harpur , H. Kendall and AL Gordon , the influence of English romanticism gained influence, through whose eyes the Australian landscape and the role of the poet were seen.

National phase (1890-1920)

The national phase (1890–1920) was characterized by efforts to fill imported literary techniques and forms, which were perceived as inadequate, with supposedly genuine Australian content. The magazine “The Bulletin”, which has been published since 1880, became a major contributor to the literary independence movement in the 1890s under the editorship of J. F. Archibald and A. G. Stephens . In the field of short stories, H. Lawson and B. Baynton created simple, unromantic protagonists in their daily struggle against an overpowering nature and, with their subliminal, gloomy humor, shaped the basic tone of Australian storytelling that has become known as “sardonic humor”. in the Roman succeeded J. Furphy with “Such is life” (1903) the first great novel of the epoch, in which he consciously rejected the Victorian conventions cultivated by the Anglo-Australian writers of the colonial phase by drawing on the great tradition of Greco-Roman antiquity as well developed an original and complex technique of linking episodes to Shakespeare and enriched it with the decidedly Australian ethos of the nationalist phase. The projection of the values ​​perceived as typically Australian concentrated on the rural life of simple, sometimes classically educated workers. Louis Stone (* 1871, † 1935) on the other hand, was the only one who chose life in the city as a literary subject. His novel »Jonah« (1911) addressed the youthful street gangs of Sydney for the first time. In poetry , the bush ballad dominated. A. Barton (“Banjo”) Paterson collected the songs brought by convicts and gold prospectors from Ireland, Great Britain and the USA; he wrote ballads in which he propagated the myth of the anti-authority, freedom-loving and nature-loving Australian.

The peculiarities of Australian literature, which ran apart from the supposed mainstream, would prove to be just as important for later developments. They showed that the literary disengagement from the motherland either only succeeded to a limited extent or was perceived as not necessarily desirable. With his poems, V. Daley was as close to the English (late) Romanticism as Hugh McCrae (* 1876, † 1958) and John Shaw Neilson (* 1872, † 1942). B. O’Dowd with his social protest and utopian-visionary ethos is a legacy of W. Blake, F. Nietzsche and W. Whitman. C. Brennans The search for paradise lost was fed by German Romanticism, English Late Victorianism and French Symbolism. In her novel, H. Richardson (that is Ethel Florence Robertson) merged naturalistic and psychoanalytic techniques with the theme of the search for cultural identity.

Modern (1920–80) and Postmodern (since around 1980)

Modernism (1920–80) and postmodernism (since around 1980) are characterized by a multitude of different attempts to cope with the intellectual identity problem through literary means. In the novel between the world wars, this effort was shown either in the creation of historical material in the tension between nationalism and internationalism (M. Barnard Eldershaw, that is F. Eldershaw and M. Barnard; E. Dark; K. Tennant ; M. Franklin ; Eve Langley, * 1904, † 1974) or in the polarization of the country’s social contrasts and problems (K. Prichard ; Vance Palmer, * 1885, † 1959; X. Herbert). The short story of those years is also documentary-realistic (Gavin Casey, * 1907, † 1964; Frank Davison, * 1893, † 1970; John Morrison, * 1904, † 1998; P. Cowan).

The novel after 1945 fans out in different directions. A partially socially critical, more realistic tendency (M. Boyd ; George Johnston, * 1912, † 1970; Frank Hardy, * 1917, † 1994; D. Cusack ; Judah Waten, * 1911, † 1991) is opposed by a tendency that Modern techniques no longer only use external levels of reality in describing them; Among them are the only internationally known authors until the mid-1970s, P. White and C. Stead , as well as H. Porter , David Martin (* 1915, † 1997), Jessica Anderson (* 1916, † 2010), T. Astley , R. Stow , Peter Mathers (* 1931, † 2004), Elizabeth Harrower (* 1928, † 2020), Shirley Hazzard (* 1931, † 2016), D. Malouf and D. Ireland . T. Keneally developed a new interest in the early history of Australia, who later became world famous as the author of the novel “Schindler’s ark” (1982; German “Schindler’s List”; template for the film of the same name, 1993). While P. White had already introduced postmodernism in his more mature novels, it came with D. Malouf, P. Carey and T. Winton breakthrough in a variety of ways, with an increasing reference to the works of international authors in English. The extraordinarily lively short prose (H. Porter; F. Moorhouse ; B. Oakley; Murray Bail, * 1941; Morris Lurie, * 1938, † 2014; M. Wilding ; E. Jolley) follows international trends.

In the early 1920s, the magazine “Vision” propagated vitality, youth and the cult of the beautiful as a program of poetry. H. R. McCrae, N. Lindsay and K. Slessor realized this with recourse to the Greco-Roman classical period and contemporary Anglo-American literature. At the end of the 1930s, R. Ingamells and Ian Mudie (* 1911, † 1976) in the Jindyworobak movement attempted to amalgamate Anglo-Saxon traditions and Australian indigenous mythology. R. D. FitzGerald enlivened historical poetry with his seafaring poems. The notorious Ern Malley hoax had no serious consequences for Australian poetry. In D. Stewart , J. Wright , A. D. Hope , R. Dobson , D. Campbell , J. McAuley , B. Beaver , F. Webb , G. Harwood , Vincent Buckley (* 1925, † 1988), B. Dawe , Geoffrey Lehmann (* 1934), Les A. Murray , R. Hall , T. Shapcott , Vivian Smith (* 1933) Australia has poets of international stature .

Although there was already a pronounced theatrical life in the 19th century, Australian drama only took off with the founding of the Pioneer Players and the Melbourne Repertory Company (1911) in the 1920s and 1930s, represented by L. Esson , then D. Stewart , Sumner Locke Elliott (1917, † 1991), RE Lawler , P. White and H. Porter. The leading theater to this day is the Melbourne Theater Company (founded in 1953 as the Union Theater Repertory Company). Since the mid-1970s, v. a. native writers accents in Australian theater; Noteworthy is the establishment of several professional ensembles outside the Melbourne and Sydney centers. Important playwrights of the second half of the 20th century are BK Oakley , D. Hewett , Peter Kenna (* 1930, † 1987), D. Williamson , Jack Hibberd (* 1940), A. Buzo , John Romeril (* 1945), L. Nowra , Stephen Sewell (* 1953) and Michael Gow (* 1955).

Together with the literature of ethnic minorities, v. a. Since the mid-1960s, black Australian literature in English has been gaining in importance. Main representatives: Kath Walker (from 1987 Oodgeroo Noonuccal, * 1920, † 1994), Jack Davis (* 1917, † 2000), Kevin Gilbert (* 1933, † 1993), C. Johnson (since 1989 Mudrooroo), Robert James Merritt (* 1945), Dick Roughsey (* 1920, † 1985), Bobbi Sykes (* 1943), Lionel George Fogarty (* 1958) and Archie Weller (* 1957) In their novels, poems and dramas borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon formal tradition, they draw attention to the fate of the oppressed, socially disadvantaged minority of the indigenous peoples who strive to preserve their cultural identity and urge political action.

So far, one Australian writer has received the Nobel Prize for Literature: P. White (1973).

Australian Literature