Review of The Directions of Australian Fiction 1920-1974 by D.R. Burns
'The primary aim' D.R. Burns states in his foreword, 'is to describe appreciatively the best works of Australian fiction published in the period.' This aim he fulfils handsomely, providing the reader unfamiliar with the many novels and short stories so described (and there would be few readers familiar with them all) with a good impression of their styles and interests, and at the same time relating them to the overall pattern he discerns in Australian fiction. The difficulties inherent in undertaking both to discuss 'the best' and to chart the field are apparent from previous critical studies: the need to balance evaluation with inclusiveness, to structure the account in ways that do not impose arbitrary and contentious boundaries, to find a critical vocabulary that is flexible enough to present dozens of diverse works without becoming repetitive, jargon-ridden or benignly bland.
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Published 1 May 1976 in Volume 7 No. 3.