The cover-image of Securing the Past is an arresting photograph of a small group ofpeople reclining on the grass while a partially restored manor house blazes in front of them. This image was lodged in my mind throughout my reading of this book as I contemplated the value of reading, viewing and occupying material objects that come to us from the past. For more than ten years Paul Eggert was the Director of the Academy Editions of Australian Literature, overseeing the production often scholarly editions of significant works of Australian literature and contributing to international discussions about the theories that inform the way we read books from the past. The convergence of theoretical contemplation and archival research with the pragmatic necessities of containing these elements within the boards of an 800-page book has greatly influenced the way Eggert deals with the frequently neglected idea of the literary work. Securing the Past is the fruit of his long-term intellectual and editorial labour, augmented by convincing forays into the thinking behind the restoration of paintings and old buildings. The book has particular significance for the study of Australian literature because of the chapters devoted to particular cases from Australia's literary heritage. But those chapters that dwell on the motivations behind restoration in the world of art and architecture are equally important because of the perspectives they provide for our aesthetic and spatial awareness of culturally significant material objects.
Review of Securing the Past: Conservation in Art, Architecture and Literature, by Paul Eggert.
The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers
Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.