Old Songs in the Timeless Land covers the period spanning late-colonial and early-Federal Australia, when a surprising number of writers, poets and dramatists reached to the Middle Ages for motifs, narrative models, myths, characters, and historical events to express a sense not just of the European past but also the Australian present and future.
Louise D’Arcens explores the large body of literature and theatre produced between 1840 and 1910 by writers such as Joseph Furphy, Stella ‘Miles’ Franklin, Henry Handel Richardson, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Henry Lawson, Conrad Knowles, and others, that drew on the Middle Ages both to entertain Australian audiences and, more seriously, to delineate a whole range of concerns particular to Australian society at the time.
Even when the medieval period was being explicitly rejected as feudal, barbaric, absurdly romantic and effete, it nevertheless loomed large within the consciousness of Australian writers who were trying to understand their own, and Australia’s, place within the world at large.
Praise for Old Songs in the Timeless Land:
A valuable contribution to an important area of historicist inquiry.AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW
D'Arcens' book is written with exceptional poise and grace.AUSTRALIAN HUMANITIES REVIEW
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