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Copy of Australian Literature
Transcript of Copy of Australian Literature
Australia's literary tradition begins, with and is linked to, the broader tradition of English literature. However, the art of Australian writers has, since 1788, introduced the character of a new continent into literature - exploring such themes as Aboriginality, mateship, egalitarianism, democracy, migrant and national identity, distance from other Western nations and proximity to Asia, the complexities of urban living and the "beauty and the terror" of life in the Australian bush.
The Founding of Australia. By Capt. Arthur Phillip R.N. Sydney Cove, Jan. 26th 1788
What would you put in the speech bubble?
Before the arrival of the First Fleet, Indigenous Australians had their own rich (verbal) story-telling tradition. David Unaipon was the first published Aboriginal author:
Extract from p. 6 'Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines' - David Unaipon
My race - the aborigines of Australia - has a vast tradition of legends, myths and folk-law stories. These, which they delight in telling to the younger members of the tribe, have been handed down orally for thousands of years. In fact, all tribal law and customs are, first of all, told to the children of the tribe in the form of stories, just as the white Australian mother first instructs her children with nursery stories: Of course the mothers and the old men, in telling these stories, drag them out to a great length, putting in every detail, with much gesture and acting, but in writing them down for our white friends I have used the simplest form of expression, in order that neither the meaning nor the "atmosphere" may be lost.As a full-blooded member of my race I think I may claim to be the first - but, I hope not the last - to produce an enduring record of our customs, beliefs and imaginings.
This is an extract of the translation of the
Song Cycle of the Moon-Bone
which belongs to the Wonguri Mandjigai people of Eastern Arnhem Land, as translated by Ronald M. Berndt. It is all about belonging to the land,and is beautiful to read
1. In what ways is this song different from the song 'Bound for Botany Bay' (see video clip)?
2. How are the atmospheres of both poems different?
3. How does 'Song Cycle of the Moon Bone' capture the relationship of the Wonguri-Mandjigal people with their land?
4. In 'Bound for Botany Bay', how do the convicts feel about 'Mother England'? About Australia?
The 1890's: The Golden Age of Australian Literature
Most Australians lived in the cities, but enjoyed reading about life in the country. During the 1890's, a distinct Australian literature emerged, centred around the unique bush landscape, and the characters that populated it.
Itinerant workers, known as swagmen, tramped the Australian bush looking for work as farm hands; this was known as being "on the wallaby track".
Frederick McCubbin - 'On the Wallaby Track'
The Drover's Wife: Henry Lawson
Henry Lawson (1867 - 1922) travelled as a swagman, and experienced the hard life of the bush first-hand. He believed that it was the writer's responsibility to present a realistic (rather than a romantic) picture of life in the bush, and his poems and stories emphasise the hardships and suffering of the stoic, resilient outback men and women. 'The Drover's Wife' is different from other short stories of its era, because the hero is a woman.
Russell Drysdale - 'The Drover's Wife'
Read p. 19 - 24 'The Drover's Wife' in The Australian Dream: A Collection of Voices and Visions - Rhonda Allen & Ron Bell
A Response to 'The Drover's Wife':
'The Tramp' - Barbara Baynton
Read p. 75 - 80 'The Tramp' in 'Australian Short Stories Second Edition'
The Australian Voice
itinerant (adj): travelling from place to place
egalitarian (adj): relating to the principle that all people are equal, and deserve equal rights and opportunities
stoic (n): a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining
Barbara Janet Ainsleigh Baynton (1857 - 1929) began contributing short stories to the Bulletin in retaliation to what she saw as a romanticised image of the Australian bush in the works of Henry Lawson. She did not romanticise bush life, and showed a savage revulsion against its loneliness and harshness, especially for women. 'The Chosen Vessel' (a longer verson of 'The Tramp') and 'Squeaker's Mate' both show a male dominated society, with more regard for their dog and horse than their women. Her view of life in the bush and of those who inhabit it is in stark contrast to that of Lawson; rather than portraying this isolated lifestyle as heroic or noble, Baynton depicts the crushing defeat of life in the outback.
retaliation (n): when you attack someone, because they have attacked you
revulsion (n): a very strong dislike
Luke O'Shea 'The Drover's Wife'
Contemporary Australian Literature:
In its short history, Australia has been involved in numerous conflicts and wars. Military service has had a significant impact on our national identity, creating the notion of 'ANZAC spirit'. The ANZAC spirit celebrates courage, fortitude, egalitarianism and mateship; traits which are now linked to the Australian identity.
The bugles of England were blowing o'er the sea,
As they had called a thousand years, calling now to me;
They wake me from dreaming in the dawning of the day,
The bugles of England - and how could I stay?
The banners of England, unfurled across the sea,
Floating out upon the wind, were beckoning to me;
Storm-rent and battle-torn, smoke-stained and grey,
The banners of England - and how could I stay?
O England, I heard the cry of those that died for thee,
Sounding like an organ voice across the winter sea;
They lived and died for England, and gladly went their way,
England, O England, how could I stay?
'For England' by J.D Burns
May 1915 (Burns was 19 when he died in the war, and never did see England)
Loyalty to Empire explains Australia's enthusiastic response to WWI. 'For England', by JD Burns demonstrates Australia's depth of feeling for 'Mother England'.
Kenneth Slessor was a correspondent during WWII, and wrote 'Beach Burial' from personal experience.
Compare both poems
Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come;
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
But morning rolls them in the foam.
Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire
Someone, it seems, has time for this,
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows
And tread the sand upon their nakedness;
And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood,
Bears the last signature of men,
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,
The words choke as they begin -
'Unknown seaman' - the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men's lips,
Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as enemies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front.
'Beach Burial' by Kenneth Slessor
Answer the questions on p.99 of 'The Australian Dream'
Khe Sanh - Don Walker
Khe Sanh is a town in former South Vietnam that was defended by Australian and US troops against communist guerillas. The following lyrics are about a Vietnam veteran, who has been disoriented (and disillusioned) by the Vietnam War.
How is the Vietnam Vet from the text like the itinerant swagmen of the 'Golden Era' of Australian literature?
I left my heart to the sappers round Khe Sanh,
And my soul was sold with my cigarettes,
to the black market man.
I've had the Vietnam cold turkey,
From the ocean to the Silver City,
And it's only other vets could understand.
About the long forgotten dockside guarantees,
How there were no V-dayheroes in 1973.
How we sailed into Sydney Harbour,
Saw an old friend but couldn't kiss her:
She was lined, and I was home to the lucky land.
And she was like so many more from that time on,
Their lives were all so empty,
Until they found their chosen one,
And their legs were often open,
But their minds were always closed,
And their hearts were held in fast suburban chains.
And the legal pads were yellow,
hours long, pay packets lean,
And the telex writers clattered,
where the gunships once had been.
But the car parks made me jumpy,
And I never stopped the dreams,
Or the growing need for speed and novacaine.
So I worked across the country end to end,
Tried to find a place to settle down,
where my mixed up life could mend.
I held a job on an oil-rig,
Flying choppers when I could,
But the nightlife nearly drove me round the bend.
And I've travelled round the world from year to year,
And each one found me aimless,
one more year the worse for wear,
And I've been back to South East Asia,
But the answer sure ain't there,
But I'm drifting north, to check things out again.
You know the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone,
Only seven flying hours, and I'll be landing in Hong Kong.
There ain't nothing like the kisses,
From a jaded Chinese princess,
I'm gonna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long.
Well the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone,
You know the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone,
And it's really got me worried,
I'm goin' nowhere and I'm in a hurry,
You know the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone.
'Khe Sanh' by Don Walker
Answer q. 1 & 2 on p. 175, & q.3, 5, 6, 9, 11,12 p. 176, 'The Australian Dream'
Cold Chisel - 'Khe Sanh'
20th Century Australian Literature:
After years of war, Australians wanted peace and security. Many found this through family life and home ownership in the suburbs. In the postwar period, over half of the nation's population lived in one of Australia's six capital cities, and two thirds of the population owned their own home. As before, men were generally the bread winners of the family, and the women stayed at home, looked after the house, and raised the children.
She practises a fugue, though it can matter
to no one now if she plays well or not.
Beside her on the floor two children chatter,
then scream and fight. She hushes them. A pot
boils over. As she rushes to the stove
too late, a wave of nausea overpowers
subject and counter-subject. Zest and love
drain out with soapy water as she scours
the crusted milk. Her veins ache. Once she played
for Rubinstein, who yawned. The children caper
round a sprung mousetrap where a mouse lies dead.
When the soft corpse won't move they seem afraid.
She comforts them; and wraps it in a paper
featuring: Tasty dishes from stale bread.
'Suburban Sonnet' by Gwen Harwood
1. A fugue is both a piece of music, and a state of loss of awareness of one's identity. Knowing these two definitions, what do the first two lines of the poem mean?
2. What aspects of the suburban mother's life frustrate her, and make it difficult for her to express her creativity?
3. Why does Harwood mention that the mother once played for a famous pianist (Rubinstein)?
4. What does the mouse symbolise?
5. In what ways is the newspaper heading at the end of the poem, a comment on the housewife's life?
Answer the following questions:
Finished early? Write your own sarcastic caption for this picture
Childhood in Suburbia
The 1950s was a tranquil and prosperous decade for many. Clive James is a journalist and television entertainer, who grew up in the Sydney suburb of Kogarah. His childhood adventures are warmly described in his autobiography, 'Unreliable Memoirs'. Read the extract from Clive James' autobiography (p. 116 'The Australian Dream' or p. 40 'Through Australian Eyes') and answer the questions:
1. How are the games you played as a child different from the games Clive James played when he was growing up?
2. Do you think that Mrs Branthwaite hated children? Give reasons using evidence from the text
3. What does this story tell the reader about the Australian lifestyle in the '50s? What does it tell us about the Australian identity?
European Migrants in Suburbia
– Ania Walwicz
You big ugly. You too empty. You desert with your nothing nothing nothing. You scorched
suntanned. Old too quickly. Acres of suburbs watching the telly. You bore me. Freckle silly
children. You nothing much. With your big sea. Beach beach beach. I’ve seen enough already.
You dumb dirty city with bar stools. You’re ugly. You silly shopping town. You copy. You too far
everywhere. You laugh at me. When I came this woman gave me a box of biscuits. You try to
be friendly but you’re not very friendly. You never ask me to your house. You insult me. You
don’t know how to be with me. Road road tree tree. I came from crowded and many. I came
from rich. You have nothing to offer. You’re poor and spread thin. You big. So what. I’m small.
It’s what’s in. You silent on Sunday. Nobody on your streets. You dead at night. You go to
sleep too early. You don’t excite me. You scare me with your hopeless. Asleep when you walk.
Too hot to think. You big awful. You don’t match me. You burnt out. You too big sky. You make
me a dot in the nowhere. You laugh with your big healthy. You want everyone to be the same.
You’re dumb. You do like anybody else. You engaged Doreen. You big cow. You average
average. Cold day at school playing around at lunchtime. Running around for nothing. You
never accept me. For your own. You always ask me where I’m from. You always ask me. You
tell me I look strange. Different. You don’t adopt me. You laugh at the way I speak. You think
you’re better than me. You don’t like me. You don’t have any interest in another country. Idiot
centre of your own self. You think the rest of the world walks around without shoes or electric
light. You don’t go anywhere. You stay at home. You like one another. You go crazy on
Saturday night. You get drunk. You don’t like me and you don’t like women. You put your arm
around men in bars. You’re rough. I can’t speak to you. You burly burly. You’re just silly to me.
You big man. Poor with all your money. You ugly furniture. You ugly house. You relaxed in
your summer stupor. All year. Never fully awake. Dull at school. Wait for other people to tell
you what to do. Follow the leader. Can’t imagine. Workhorse. Thick legs. You go to work in the
morning. You shiver on a tram.
Ania Walwicz uses a poetic technique known as 'stream of consciousness', where a writer attempts to convey the jumbled thoughts of a character. Her poem 'Australia' uses insulting stereotypes and repetition to emphasis her unhappiness, and her view that Australian culture is 'overrated'.
1. Write down two quotes that show anger and irritation in this poem. Why do you think the poet feels this way?
2. Complete this sentence: 'This peom says that Australia is a place where...
3. Re-write this poem in complete, grammatically correct sentences. You may need to use your own words in some places.
Ania immigrated from Poland when she was 12 years old.
Answer these questions:
Compare and Contrast
'Australia', by A.D Hope, explores the 'spiritual poverty' of Australia, suggesting that the sheer effort of surviving in such a harsh land has prevented Australians from reflecting on their lives, and developing artistic pursuits.
A nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey
In the field uniform of modern wars
Darkens her hills, those endless, outstretched paws
Of Sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.
They call her a young country, but they lie:
She is the last of lands, the emptiest,
A woman beyond her change of life, a breast
Still tender but within the womb is dry.
Without songs, architecture, history:
The emotions and superstitions of younger lands,
Her rivers of water drown among inland sands,
The river of her immense stupidity
Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth.
In them at last the ultimate men arrive
Whose boast is not: 'we live' but 'we survive',
A type who will inhabit the dying earth.
And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state
Where second-hand Europeans pullulate
Timidly on the edge of alien shores.
Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
The Arabian desert of the human mind,
Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come,
Such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare
Springs in that waste, some spirit which escapes
The learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes
Which is called civilization over there.
1. How is A.D Hope's 'Australia' similar to/different from Ania Walwicz's 'Australia'?
2. Do you think that Hope has included Indigenous Australians when he talks about Australia's 'monotonous tribes'
3. What do you think Hope is saying about the Australian identity?
'Australia' by A.D Hope
Is this person living in 'spiritual poverty'?
Answer these questions:
21st Century Australian Literature:
Migrant Literature: Alice Pung
1. Henry Lawson believed that it was a writer's duty to 'tell it like it is'. Does this prologue romanticise the Pung's situation, or give an unbiased account of their experiences?
2. Are the Pungs living the 'Australian Dream'? Explain your answer.
‘Migrant literature usually starts with people suffering a lot and then they come to Australia or America or Canada and they make it big. That is supposed to be the end of their suffering. My book doesn't tell it like that; it tells it as it is for me and my family...When we came here, my family were in awe of everything, every little thing was incredible, like a wonderland, but the more you aspire towards being white middle class, the more you suffer internally.’ Alice Pung The Age Sept 3 2006.
Alice Pung was born in Australia one month after her parents migrated from Cambodia. She is now a Melbourne-based writer and lawyer. Unpolished Gem is her first book
Read the handout from 'Unpolished Gem'
Why do you think Alice suffered internally when she aspired to become a white middle class woman?
aspire (v): to desire and work towards achieving something important
Anh Do: The Happiest Refugee
Your mission (if you choose to accept it...)
Write an analytical exposition in response to the following question:
How has Australian literature changed over time? You must refer to:
specific texts and authors
show how social factors influenced the texts
So how do you get started?
Before you write:
Write down everything you know about Australian literature (try to work chronologically). Include names of both texts and authors, as well as things that may have influenced the author (war, immigration etc).
Write a topic sentence for each one of these ideas. These will be the topic sentences for each paragraph of your essay's main body.
Map out the body of your essay - you need to know about the order you will mention things before you write your introduction (your introduction is like a road map, and tells the reader about what you will be talking about in each paragraph).
Write a concluding paragraph for your essay. The conclusion must restate the thesis (that Australian literature has changed over time), restate each of your arguments in support of the thesis, and generally bring the essay to an effective close. Make sure to word all of these differently than you did at the beginning and in the body. Also, make sure to never introduce any new material in the conclusion!
Write your introduction first. Your introduction must re-word the question, and present the information in the order you will discuss it in your essay.
Write a paragraph for each of the topic sentences. Expand upon how this topic sentence supports your thesis, and provide any information you wish in support.
Words of Wisdom...
Use your first lesson to plan your essay and write your introduction. Don't forget to write down as much as you can remember about the literature that we studied (including the author!), and as much as you can remember about social factors that might have influenced the author.
Do not waste your time!
Make sure you write something down - it is never as bad as you think it is, and will definitely get more marks that writing nothing.