New Literatures: Australia 2007



Publication Details

Dale, L. & Tiffin, C. 2009, 'New Literatures: Australia 2007', The Year's Work in English Studies, vol. 88, pp. 1101-1130.


Perhaps the biggest news for 2007 in Australian literary studies was that the papers of Patrick White, to date Australia's only ‘home-grown’ Nobel Prize winner, had not been destroyed as the author had long claimed. The story of how the material survived and a brief overview of the contents are given in Marie-Louise Ayres's essay ‘ “My Mss are Destroyed” ’ (AuBR 290[2007] 8–11). In Ayres's view, the most exciting elements of the additions to the collection in the National Library of Australia are White's ten notebooks, which contain ‘observations, first paragraphs, timelines, character descriptions, research notes’. She asserts that ‘most of White's novels first appear in these notebooks, along with many of his plays, short stories and a surprising number of poems, most never published. It is clear that White himself valued these, and mined them—sometimes after many years—for his creative work’ (p. 9). The many unpublished works include a ‘novella’ that runs to around 160,000 words, as well as drafts and material, especially for the later novels. Although there are very few personal letters, Ayres, an experienced critic and scholar, expresses her belief that the material is sufficiently rich to fuel productive research.

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Oxford University Press

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