Sunday, March 30, 2008

Australian Classics: 50 Great Writers by Jane Gleeson-White

This collection of 50 essays on prominent Australian writers is one of those books I love to revel in and savor slowly. First, some background.

In reading a review or essay, I forget where, I came across the name Patrick White as the only Australian to win the Nobel Prize (1973). Descriptions of several of his novels were intriguing, so I got The Aunt’s Story and loved it. I picked up several others of his books, most notably Voss. Reviews of both these books appear elsewhere on this site. A search of revealed a small number of members who also had White’s works. I contacted one member who lives in Australia, and began a discussion of his works. LibraryThingers are great people, and this member sent me a copy of this book.

The essays are even and really whet my appetite for Australian Literature. I have always wanted to travel there, and now I am determined to make the trip one of these days. My TBR list now has a dozen new titles and authors which will open wider the door to this fascinating land.

Some of these authors I knew: Elizabeth Jolley, Kate Grenville, Miles Franklin, Shirley Hazzard, and, of course, Patrick White. Most of them, however, were completely unfamiliar. The preface explains the sense of place all these authors share, but I would add the sense of history is equally dominant. Anyone who has seen some of the great Australian films recently knows what I mean: Gallipoli, The Rabbit Fence, and Picnic at Hanging Rock. These films, all of which Gleeson-White mentions, clearly evoke place, but also history. 5 stars.

--Chiron, 3/30/08

No comments: