Looking for the History in Literary History: Review of The Oxford Literary History of Australia
Reviewing The Oxford Literary History of Australia is a tricky, discomfiting affair. What do we expect from such histories? Should we expect the latest theoretical developments applied and amplified, or is this where specialist workers in the field turn from addressing their peers to communicate with a general audience? The answer, I think, lies closer to the second alternative. We need to be modest about the History's aims and limits. But reviewing the book for a peer audience, as here, means being tempted to judge it against criteria of theoretical or historical completeness.
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