Baylebridge, Nietzsche, Shaw: Some Observations on the ‘New Nationalism’


It is proposed to restrict comment here to Baylebridge's 'Nationalism' as delineated principally in the sections, 'National Notes' and 'Political Verse', of This Vital Flesh, since it is here that the assumed influence of Nietzsche appears to be most virulent. Baylebridge writes: 'National Notes was an attempt to bring our youthtful idealism, not the less vague for being perhaps predestined, to solid ground. It went upon the assumption that doing precedes being.' For Baylebridge, it appears that the nation is 'a circumscribed and specialized form of life, and that it is 'a ground for experiment in the things of life'. Man is considered here not purely as an embodiment of life but 'as a national animal'. Baylebridge pleads that this distinction necessarily brings us to conclusions based on expediency and that we must to a great extent become mechanists; for the nation employing 'its social, economic, and religious machinery, is largely a materialistic conception'. It is possible, in his eyes, that 'a mechanist conception would be the more serviceable'. However, this should not obscure the fact that for Baylebridge the national regeneration he advocates is spiritually based.

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Published 1 October 1975 in Volume 7 No. 2. Subjects: Australian literary movements, Culture & cultural life, Literary & cultural exchanges, Literary influences, Nationalism, William Baylebridge.

Cite as: Macainsh, Noel. ‘Baylebridge, Nietzsche, Shaw: Some Observations on the ‘New Nationalism’.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 7, no. 2, 1975, doi: 10.20314/als.b9e869c5f8.