Review of Out of Eden: Henry Lawson's Life and Works by Xavier Pons
Though he is more careful and, in general, much fairer than others who have written about Lawson's parents, Xavier Pons's account contains in my view two of the major, unexamined stereotypes of Lawson biography: a Louisa who is, with only small qualification, 'bad'; and a Peter (Niels) who is by and large 'good' to the point of being saintly. In establishing Louisa as the villainess of his story (despite concessions that she is 'remarkable, 'aspiring, "ambitious* etc.), Pons allows himself to drop into that easy, condemnatory tone in which persuasiveness and appeal to a sort of phantom consensus about dominant women gradually replace hard evidence.
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