'This edition howls to heaven to be withdrawn': the Palmer Abridgement of Joseph Furphy's Such is Life

Osborne, Roger (2020) 'This edition howls to heaven to be withdrawn': the Palmer Abridgement of Joseph Furphy's Such is Life. Australian Literary Studies, 35 (1).

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Abstract

When the abridged English edition of Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life appeared on the shelves of Australian booksellers in the middle of 1937, many of Australia’s most prominent cultural nationalists directed their outrage at the editor, Vance Palmer. First published in 1903 by the Bulletin Publishing Company, Such is Life was out-of-print and largely neglected when the London publisher Jonathan Cape arranged for the abridgement. David Walker has shown that the abridgment was actually the work of literary critic Nettie Palmer, Vance Palmer’s wife, ably assisted by their daughter, Aileen, and Walker also outlines the most vociferous examples of cultural outrage, but what the Palmers actually did to the novel has not been examined in any detail. This paper builds on Walker’s research to look more closely at the circumstances of the abridgement, and what the Palmers actually did within a much longer history of composition, revision, and publication that culminated in Angus and Robertson’s unabridged edition published in 1944. Rather than rejecting the abridgement as an outrageous example of cultural destruction, I argue that it is, instead, an important event within the life of the work we know as Such is Life; a resuscitation, if you like, and, therefore, worthy of closer examination in both aesthetic and cultural terms.

Item ID: 62999
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0004-9697
Keywords: Australian literature, publishing, editing, reception studies
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2020 02:05
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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