Meanwhile, this week back at the Sydney theory ranch, John Hawke’s book Australian Literature & the Symbolist Movement will be launched by Jacket magazine editor and poet John Tranter.

The promotional text says :

Australian literature was never all billabongs and stockmen.

Ahead of other English speaking cultures, Australia absorbed the Symbolist message freshly worked out in Paris-initially in Brennan's Bulletin pieces of the 1890s. Symbolism introduced a metaphysical, intellectual strand throughout the 20th century, visible in the work of Kenneth Slessor, Judith Wright and Patrick White, and in the reactions of Hope and McAuley.

John Hawke follows this rich and complex tradition into recent poetry; he compares the impact of Vitalism, promoted by Norman Lindsay and manifest in such poets as Slessor, Francis Webb and Douglas Stewart.

His book also investigates fascinating dialogues involving P.R. Stephensen, Jack Lindsay, A.R. Chisholm, Randolph Hughes and others, and the extremist views which grew for some of them out of their positions on the Symbolist aesthetic.

This reappraisal of literary tradition shows the landscape of Australian writing in a completely new light.

John Hawke is a Senior Lecturer in English at Monash University. He completed doctoral studies at the University of Sydney, where he received the University Medal and the Dame Leonie Kramer Prize. (not that Dame Leonie [one of Barry Humphries' greatest characters] had any personal involvement in the award choice). Between 1997 and 2006 John taught literary theory at the University of Wollongong. He is also a widely published poet.

6pm Thursday 30th April
49 Glebe Point Rd,
Glebe, Sydney
RSVP: 9660 2333

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