A Lost Australian Story: Man in the 1930s


  • Victoria Kuttainen


In early Australia, "a land of newspapers and magazines" (Johnson-Woods 66) where book production was difficult and cheap copy proliferated, the short story played a vital role in literary production. Its development is typically traced from early colonial sketches in diaries and newspapers to a first significant flourishing in the 1890s with the Bulletin/ Lawson-Furphy tradition, where the priorities were the depiction of the Australian landscape and the expression of vernacular cultural identity. After the war, in the Depression, it went into decline, to bloom again with the first series of anthologies that emerged in earnest in the forties. This period of renaissance for Australian short story writing was also marked by the rise of the first university English-department little magazines, the Jindyworobak movement, and postwar nationalism, all of which became in due time significant organs for the production of what was to become accepted as canonical Australian literature. The 1970s and 80s are said to have brought another wave of literary nationalism, where the short story again rose to prominence as it was visited by local writers experimenting in the form and as it was critically celebrated in anthologies such as Gillian Whitlock's Eight Voices of the Eighties, a feminist corrective to an already established canon of Australian short fiction.