Review of Xavier Herbert by Laurie Clancy


Laurie Clancy believes that Xavier Herbert wrote a good book, Capricornia, nearly fifty years ago. After forty years of silence, conventional short stories, bizarre experiment (Seven Emus, Soldiers' Women), autobiography (Disturbing Element), Herbert produced "a literary brontosaurus. Poor Bugger My Book.' The only thing to be redeemed from this last quip is that it fits the case of Xavier Herbert, Twayne World Authors Series 552, with more lethal accuracy. Clancy has written a severely and continuously negative book on Herbert. Even the homage he pays to Capricornia is qualified. It is quite remarkable that a scholar should propose to write on an author whose major work he regards as "an artistic failure of a rather catastrophic kind." No one would suggest that critical activity should be a praise poem affair, but demolition from a set of hostile literary and cultural premises, although reasonable enough in a newspaper review, makes for a tedious book.

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Published 1 October 1982 in Volume 10 No. 4. Subjects: Xavier Herbert.

Cite as: Healy, J. J.. ‘Review of Xavier Herbert by Laurie Clancy.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 10, no. 4, 1982, doi: 10.20314/als.9ed27e1015.