Expressing a new civilisation: authorship, publishing, and reading in the 1890s

Osborne, Roger (2020) Expressing a new civilisation: authorship, publishing, and reading in the 1890s. In: Gildersleeve, Jessica, (ed.) Routledge Companion to Australian Literature. Routledge Literature Companions . Routledge, New York, NY, USA, pp. 9-17.

[img] PDF (Accepted Publisher Version) - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


By the close of the nineteenth century, Australian writers and critics generally agreed that 'the writer's purpose was, at least in part, to explore ethical and spiritual realities and ideals on be-half of the emerging and potentially wayward nation’ (Stewart 176). In this 'emerging potential' Geoffrey Serle perceives both hope and disappointment: 'Naïve, confident optimism was reflected by writers and artists striving to express a new civilisation' (60). While writers are recognised as the standard bearers of this 'new civilisation,' it should also be acknowledged that they were not working in solitude: 'In turn-of-the-century Australia where editors and publishers were scarce, the few who did exist had disproportionate power over what sort of literature would be published, read and valued in society' (Goldsworthy 105). In the years after 1 January 1901, when ideas of Australia began to emerge in the wake of Federation, two novels emerged from the 1890s to be-come touchstones for future discussions of the Australian literature and Australian literary culture: Miles Franklin's My Brilliant Career (1901) and Joseph Furphy's Such Is Life (1903). These novels represent the final moments in a long chain of events that occurred within a complex and dynamic network of individuals and institutions, all claiming some stake, small or large, in the expression and critique of Australian identity at the turn of the twentieth century. By focussing on the process of literary production rather than the product, this chapter aims to draw further attention to the evidence of multiple authorship in Australia's literary history in order to encourage new readings of the textual, material, and cultural lives of literary works. As touchstones for any discussion of 'writers and artists striving to express a new civilisation' at the turn of the twentieth century, Such Is Life and My Brilliant Career provide ample evidence that the publication histories of literary works are 'an index of broader social and cultural change' (Eggert 179).

Item ID: 65098
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-367-64356-0
Copyright Information: (C) Routledge
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2020 03:56
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470502 Australian literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 2
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page