Review of Strange Country: A Study of Randolph Stow, by Anthony J. Hassall
The reviewer of the first critical monograph on Randolph Stow, by the American Ray Willbanks, was faced with the 'inescapable question: Is Stow's work, as it now stands, large and significant enough to bear such treatment?' (Julian Croft, in ALS, 9, 1979). In his full-length study of Stow's entire literary output to date, Anthony Hassall does not need to take up this question, since Stow has meanwhile dispersed all doubts about his talent. For Hassall, Stow is 'one of the finest [novelists] Australia has produced,' in fact the only one of the recent decades 'whose best work bears comparison with Patrick White's.' If this declaration of allegiance does not perhaps draw Stow finally from under the 'shadow of Patrick White' where Vincent Buckley placed him, along with C. J. Koch (Meanjin, 1961), While remains, throughout Hassall's study, a point of reference and a backdrop against which Stow's own distinct achievement is viewed and evaluated.
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