An Introduction to Australian Literature: “Australia is not a finished product…”
The blogs that I have written over the semester encompass my evolving understanding of different eras of Australian literature. I have come to comprehend the way in which social, cultural and historical aspects of our country shape how literature encapsulates the unfinished Australian spirit. Perhaps the best reflection of my understanding of the ever changing attitudes and notions of Australia was my fourth blog: ‘Dear Meg Hogben’.
My first blog was a critical analysis of Henry Kendall’s poem ‘Bell Birds’. I found the poem immensely beautiful because of the way it reflected humanity’s connection to the land, especially the elements of the Australian natural realm which were often overlooked by the English colonialist society of the early Nineteenth Century. Henry Kendall described a longing for the land which I felt reflected a formation of the Australian identity, a scion of patriotic pride for the land and its peoples. However, I couldn’t help but believe that, whilst Kendall’s description of the native bellbird with its lulling trill was insurmountable in beauty, this burgeoning wonder for the Australian landscape was not elucidating the entirety of what Australia itself represents.
My following blog was a creative inspired by the painting ‘The Golden Fleece’ and Dame Mary Gilmore’s poem ‘Australia’, where I tried to form my own idea of how this unfinished entity that is Australia is a product of the history of failing to recognise the immemorial connection Australian Indigenous peoples hold to country. Whilst I may have struggled to imbed my own personal experience throughout this blog, I felt that my belief in respecting the traditional custodians of Australia conveys the contemporary values among people today. I feel this recognition of historical Indigenous oppression is an essential part of accepting the dark and light shades in our young and old history; it thusly denotes pride and acknowledgment of the mosaic nation we call our own.
The blogs ‘Dear Meg Hogben’ (a letter to Patrick White’s characters from his short story ‘Down at the Dumps’) and ‘Bobby’s Niece Visits’ (a creative piece inspired by Kim Scott’s novel ‘That Deadman Dance’) both illuminate how multiculturalism, institutionalised racism, Aboriginal dispossession and connection to country form the fabric of Australia’s fragmentary essence. I felt ‘Dear Meg Hogben’ was my best blog because it revealed a deeply personal frame of my Aussie life that I do not usually share with others; it was liberating and enlightening to connect with a literary character I felt I could understand.
I truly enjoyed ‘That Deadman Dance’ because of the way Kim Scott uses his fiction to shed historical light upon the silhouette of Australia that shows there is hidden beauty in being an ‘unfinished product’. Whilst the character of Bobby was able to straddle the cultural barrier between the European colonisers and the Noongar peoples, I felt the children of Binyan and Jak Tar could further illustrate the cultural fusion within Australia that is not always peaceful and complete, but rather challenging, confusing and encapsulates the fractured, unfinished Australian narrative.
This country is ultimately a cesspool of culture and art, both modern and ancient history, depicting both the beauteous and hideous ethos of humanity. Perhaps the best wonder of this lucky country is that it is indeed unfinished; it is the quintessential country of frayed edges and jagged centres. It is this fragmentary nature of Australia that has made the evolution of Australian literature an edifying journey throughout this semester.
Link to Best Blog: https://mebsliterature.art.blog/category/best-blog/