A History of Australian Literature by Ken Goodwin (auth.)

By Ken Goodwin (auth.)

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Clara Morison was highly praised by Frederick Sinnett (1830-66) in his two-part article 'The Fiction Fields of Australia', which appeared in theJournal of Australasia (Melbourne) in 1856. Sinnett considered it 'Decidedly the best Australian novel that we have met with', 'free from the defect of being a book of travels in disguise'. Catherine Spence also wrote two utopian novels, the first of which, Hanr/fasted - A Romance, remained in manuscript until 1984. About 1880 it was submitted to the Sydney Mail in a competition, but was rejected as 'calculated to loosen the marriage tie ...

The exclusion of non-Australian influences began in the first decade of the new century. A sense of national identity was called for in the wake of the federation of the six colonies in 1901. The bush was the best source of such a characteristic Australian individuality so it was bush art that should be cultivated. As this view found expression in the Bulletin, the retrospective view of the 1890s - the decade when the conditions for federation were established - became that of a golden age ofliterary achievement.

An ear for Australian expressions, even if he tended to be condescending. The currency lad's conversation has a plausible nonchalance and unpretentious ness that contrasts with Burton's formal periods. Kingsley wrote some twenty-four novels and volumes of belles-lettres, but he never succeeded so well artistically or THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS OF COLONIZATION 23 commercially as with his first novel, which was highly praised by Marcus Clarke and 'Rolf Boldrewood'. Decades later, however, Joseph Furphy, who seems to have derived enjoyment out of what he disliked in the book, allowed his character Tom Collins to ridicule it as an entirely false portrayal of bush life, a romantic delusion.

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