- Students of non-British literature in English have often addressed the problem of deciding exactly when an identifiable national literature emerged and how that literature differed from the British literature out of which it grew. In Australia, as in America, the problem for writers was that they had not yet assimilated those elements of the national myth which would enable them to achieve a uniquely Australian perspective on the world around them., The Australian myth is that of the bushman, and it embodies those characteristics--of stoicism, sardonic humor, practicality, and mateship--which the bush instilled in those who lived in closest contact with it. It grew up in the pastoral districts, where the life of the shearing sheds and the wool tracks nurtured it, and it found voice in an oral tradition of bush songs and yarns--forms which would later influence the first truly indigenous literature., Certain elements of the myth, however, appear in even the earliest formal literature: the anti-authoritarian outlook and realism of the convict novels, for instance, and the appreciation of the spell of the bush. For the most part, though, the early writers tended to be influenced by the British literature of the time--Tennyson and Browning in poetry and Scott in prose., and By the 1890's the two strains of literature--the oral tradition and the more formal writing--began to come together, especially in periodicals like the Sydney Bulletin, which, with its nationalistic outlook and concern for the development of a national literature, gave the bushmen a voice. Writers like A. B. Paterson adopted the bush song and fashioned from it the bush ballad, a more consciously literary production which still maintained the bush influence. And prose writers like Henry Lawson and Joseph Furphy created from the bush yarn prose forms which for the first time enabled Australian authors to write in their own idiom for an international audience. With While the Billy Boils and Such is Life, the Australian myth finally emerged in literature worthy of taking its place alongside other national literature as an expression of the consciousness of a unique people.
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University 1980.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 41-09, Section: A, page: 4022.
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