Is Australian romance an oxymoron? It has been long thought so; not for us Don Juan or Don Quixote but Ned Kelly and Tom Collins. Even when romance rears its alluring head in Australian fiction, as with Harry’s wooing of Sybilla in My Brilliant Career, it is often quashed as a distraction or delusion. More recently, celebrated texts of their times such as Puberty Blues (1979), Oscar and Lucinda (1988),Praise (1992) have confirmed the view that romance is difficult in Australia – and in Australian fiction.
If we have prided ourselves on taking the steely-eyed view without the filter of rose-coloured glasses, we may also have been looking in the wrong places for romance. This issue of Southerly engages with the question of Australian romance and presents work that promises to make us re-think the question, right down to our unromantic souls. This issue includes essays on romance writers, a real-life spiritualist romance between two women, a new “Byronic” reading of Gwen Harwood, and a male colonial romance from 1866, which is full of surprises.
This issue also includes the 2010 Blaiklock lecture, this year given by Lyn McCredden on Barbara Hanrahan, which weaves a compelling and poetic case for the connection between the sacred and the erotic in Hanrahan’s work.
Much of the fiction and poetry also connects to the theme of romance and love, all of it is exciting and includes new works by established writes such as Jill Jones, Cath Kenneally, Ouyang Yu, Π.O., and Jessica White as well as writers who will be new to the reader – and a revelation. The issue also contains reviews on the theme and with broader reach.
David Brooks Mist
Bron Bateman Love Song
David Mortimer Valentine’s Day Headache
Cath Kenneally lord of the dance, roller derby
Peter Dawncy evening field
П.O. Rolf Harris, Coleridge
Jill Jones Recollections in the Stairwell & My Beautiful Misfortunes
Ouyang Yu Softness
Bron Bateman Accoutrements
Ouyang Yu Place names Hong Kong, a random sonnet list
Belinda Campbell Littoral
Michelle Sweeney The Leaving
Mark O’Flynn Political Correctness
Paul Dawson The Death of a Beautiful Woman
ESSAYS and ARTICLES
Lyn McCredden 2010 Blaiklock lecture “A painted queen jumped free”: body and spirit in the fiction of Barbara Hanrahan with an introduction by Robert Dixon
Roslynn Haynes Marie Bjelke Petersen’s romances: Fulfilling the contract, subverting the spirit
Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver Louise Mack and Colonial Pseudo-Literature
Jessica White “The one absolutely unselfish love”: Spiritualism and the collaborative writing of Rosa Praed and Nancy Harward
Toni Johnson-Woods “Adventures of a Squatter”: a colonial male romance
Ann-Marie Priest Between Sanctity and Liberation: The Lives and Loves of Gwen Harwood
Nicolette Stasko A Different Kind of Romance or Reading Romance in Robert Gray’s The Land I Came Through Last and Evelyn Juers’ House of Exiles
Kate Livett on Annette Stewart, Barbara Hanrahan: A Biography
Andrew J. Carruthers on Π.O., Big Numbers: new and selected poems
Fiona Morrison on Dorothy Hewett, The Gipsy Dancer and Early Poems
Shalmalee Palekar on Anne-Marie Smith (ed.), Culture Is… Australian Stories Across Cultures, An Anthology
Sophie Clarke on Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver (eds) The Anthology of Colonial Australian Romance Fiction
David Brooks on Noel Rowe, Ethical Investigations: Essays on Australian Literature and Poetics