Review of God's Fool: The Life and Poetry of Francis Webb by Michael Griffith, and Spirit in Exile: Peter Porter and His Poetry by Bruce Bennett
A properly researched biography of Francis Webb is a valuable occasion. It comes at the cusp, as members of Webb's generation begin to pass away, or their memories of a man who died in 1973 begin to fade or harden into anecdote. The recent death of Vincent Buckley must, for example, have meant that the other term in the opposition which Griffith sets up between Webb's experiences in Sydney and those in Melbourne, cannot be represented in detail and we will not know precisely what happened in discussions between Buckley and Webb in the fifties. To compound matters, Webb is difficult both as poet and as person, though it is encouraging to note how less difficult he seems to us than he did to his contemporaries, and it makes one wonder what kind of poetic tradition would find the need to endlessly defend Webb against the charge of obscurity. This biography is inclined to smooth out Webb's difficult personality by placing him in a context which makes sense of his choices.
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Cite as: Duwell, Martin. ‘Review of God's Fool: The Life and Poetry of Francis Webb by Michael Griffith, and Spirit in Exile: Peter Porter and His Poetry by Bruce Bennett.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 15, no. 4, 1992, doi: 10.20314/als.9efcf5af71.