Lost literatures

Nile, Richard (2015) Lost literatures. In: Studies in English and Comparative Literature (24) pp. 337-347. From: CISLE 2013: Centre for the International Study of Literatures in English Conference, July 2013, Innsbruck, Austria.

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Abstract

[Extract] Early proponents of Australia's silent literatures thesis included Nettie Palmer and Vernon Knowles. Knowles argued in 1929 that a "general conspiracy of silence" surrounded Australia's literary experience of the First World War. Given the scale of tragedy, which included 60,000 dead. Knowles believed a muted response was "not only understandable; it was necessary." With around one in every two Australian families bereaved, and virtually no household left unaffected, the subject of war, he maintained, was beyond literary treatment. For "sanity's sake," Knowles argued, the experience of these terrible years should be ''blotted out." Only with the passing of time would a more balanced literary perspective and "detached attitude" be possible. Around the same time, Australia 's most influential literary critic, Nettie Palmer, observed that the inaugural Bulletin novel competition of 1929 "did not bring forth a successful war book." No-one should be surprised, she said, "feeling that the time was not ripe for one." Knowles and Palmer were acutely aware at the time of intensified literary activity internationally with the publication in quick succession of Siegfried Sassoon's Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man ( 1928), Edmund Blunden 's Undertones of War ( 1928), Robert Graves' Goodbye to All That (1928), Richard Aldington's Death of a Hero ( 1929), Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms (1929) and the first English translation in 1929 of Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front (first published 1928) - by the Australian Arthur Wheen. Remarque's and Hemingway's novels were produced as major films that were screened globally to packed houses in 1929 and 1930. Yet the 1930 Bulletin competition was also spare according to Palmer who observed, somewhat wryly perhaps: "People will probably not complain but will say that the time for war books is now over."

Item ID: 46044
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-3-86057-324-2
ISSN: 0940-1571
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Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2018 01:58
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200502 Australian Literature (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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