Peter Craven

Pioneers’ Influence Ripples Across Time
7 July 2023

Pioneers’ Influence Ripples Across Time

Literary critic Peter Craven continues his examination of three essential novels that powerfully capture the heroism of the Pioneers and the complexities of the Australian dream. There is a tremendous brio in the portrait by Mary Durack (1913-1994) of her grandfather Patrick Durack (1834-1898), which must be one of the greatest portraits ever written of an uneducated man who was
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Pioneer Life Comes Alive
28 June 2023

Pioneer Life Comes Alive

Three classic tales put voices and faces to Australia’s remarkable pioneers, in this first of a two-part essay by literary critic PETER CRAVEN. What on earth are we to make of the pioneers who settled Australia and made it, for better or for worse, what it is? There is that meditative figure of Frederick McCubbin, pensive and stoical as it
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The Genius Of Patrick White
7 March 2023

The Genius Of Patrick White

Patrick White is far and away the greatest writer Australia has ever produced in any medium and not to take stock of this would be a very sad thing indeed. It’s only a couple of generations ago when the penny dropped that White, a toff of pastoralist stock who turned in his latter days into a raging lefty, was in
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The Poems That Made Us
27 June 2022

The Poems That Made Us

Our poets made a unique contribution to Australian nationhood, and on quality alone deserve to be celebrated, writes literary critic PETER CRAVEN. Australian poetry occupies a strange position in Australian literature which is in some ways analogous to (of all things) Australian sport. If we ask why Australians —together with other dominion countries such as New Zealand and South Africa—are
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Collected hits for an Australian cultural canon worth celebrating
27 January 2022

Collected hits for an Australian cultural canon worth celebrating

It’s to the credit of the Institute of Public Affairs that it is interested in the idea of an Australian canon and it would be a mistake to see the list it released late last year – primarily of our significant books but also of paintings, songs and films – as some conservative plot. Besides, there’s the memory of a
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Distinctly Australian
27 January 2022

Distinctly Australian

An Australian ‘Canon within a Canon’ is problematic yet essential for appreciating the classics and recognising new ones, writes literary critic PETER CRAVEN. The word canon can be a ticklish point for anyone who has spent his life preoccupied with writing and its postulated transfiguration into something called literature. The term canon—with its derivation from the essential and defining part
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