Review of Jean Devanny: Romantic Revolutionary, by Carole Ferrier
Carole Ferrier's biography of Jean Devanny (1894-1962) involves the recovery not only of a neglected woman writer, but also of a much-maligned political activist, a woman as notorious among contemporaries for her commitment to sexual liberation and women's rights as for her communism. Much of the interest of this huge biography—large-hearted as well as exhaustively researched and documented, product of 20 years' work—is political. On one level, it is a valuable addition to post-1990 histories of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), such as Stuart Macintyre's The Reds (Allen & Unwin, 1998). On another, it is an attempt to tell Jean Devanny's story in such a way as to make it relevant to contemporary political practice. The definition of politics in this book extends, post-1970 style, into cultural, sexual, racial and ecological as well as class conflicts.
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