Review of The Penguin New Literary History of Australia, general editor, Laurie Hergenhan; editors Bruce Bennett, Martin Duwell, Brian Mathews, Peter Pierce, Elizabeth Webby
Fragmentation, as we have been told very often, is a part of the condition of the late 1980s. Whether we have sought it or resented it, come at it through anxiously trying to read ahead of that tricky fault-line where the enabling contemporary buckles away from the traditional, or found ourselves panting along behind the problematically new, we are all instant heirs to the immediate post-modern, the power tremors of academe. And there is no such thing as not being complicit. Which is to say that those who engage in national literary histories are buying themselves a hard time. As star witness one might point to the recent and continuing problems with the new five volume Cambridge History of American Literature, with some of the volumes apparently censured before they so much as appear. There is a loud call for dissensus, the abandonment of any 'total' view of American writing — with all the marginalisings, investments and bids for dominance that presumably vicious adjective implies.
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Cite as: O'Sullivan, Vincent. ‘Review of The Penguin New Literary History of Australia, general editor, Laurie Hergenhan; editors Bruce Bennett, Martin Duwell, Brian Mathews, Peter Pierce, Elizabeth Webby.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, 1989, doi: 10.20314/als.1e2cb0141a.