MA Fiction (Week 6 and 7)

We have been having a very rich time exploring the language and meaning of Henry Lawson’s “Send Round the Hat” and Barbara Baynton’s “Squeaker’s Mate”. Both stories reflect on experiences that gave shape to the Australian identity in the late 19th and early 20th century… but what an incredible difference in their point of view and their attitude to their subjects. There is Lawson’s realist celebration of the virtues of philanthropy in the form of the blotched and tall “Giraffe” and there is Baynton’s devestating denigration of the horrible self-serving, effeminate, runt of a little man, Squeaker who has no time for anyone except for himself. Baynton’s language is savage and symbolic in its depiction of human ugliness and in its depiction of human strength. We dwelt for a while on that pregnant sentence (thanks Phil and Reza!): “But day after day she tested her strength, and whatever the result, was silent, thought white witnesses, halo-wise, gradually circled her brow and temples.”
This is pure Baynton and so different from the clipped realism of Lawson’s equally compelling style: “I hope I ain’t disturbin’ yer,” he shouted, as he bent over my bunk, “but there’s a cove-” “You needn’t shout!” I interrupted, “I’m not deaf.”…. and here are a few snapshots of the class hard at work, digesting, deciphering, composing… see you all next week for Patrick White, Olga Masters and Tim Winton!


  6 comments for “MA Fiction (Week 6 and 7)

  1. May 3, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Baynton and lawson

    Even though both the writers show a very different side to the Aussie working male, they are both still extremely relevent. They both speak from their own experiences and perspective. Through reading stories from different viewpoints, we are challenged out of complacently veiwing the world from our preconceived, idealised and often romanticised perception. We may find it difficult to stomach what Baynton says of the male in the story yet the truth remains that men like this actually exist. The world has as many cowards as it has heroes, perhaps more. Could it be possible that heroes at their core are cowards that God has blessed with a sense of shame that propells them forward into action and out and away from that shameful place. Meanwhile all the rest of us are quite comfortable just existing somewhere in the middle ground.

  2. May 3, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Baynton and lawson

    Even though both the writers show a very different side to the Aussie working male, they are both still extremely relevent. They both speak from their own experiences and perspective. Through reading stories from different viewpoints, we are challenged out of complacently veiwing the world from our preconceived, idealised and often romanticised perception. We may find it difficult to stomach what Baynton says of the male in the story yet the truth remains that men like this actually exist. The world has as many cowards as it has heroes, perhaps more. Could it be possible that heroes at their core are cowards that God has blessed with a sense of shame that propells them forward into action and out and away from that shameful place. Meanwhile all the rest of us are quite comfortable just existing somewhere in the middle ground.

  3. May 3, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Baynton and lawson

    Even though both the writers show a very different side to the Aussie working male, they are both still extremely relevent. They both speak from their own experiences and perspective. Through reading stories from different viewpoints, we are challenged out of complacently veiwing the world from our preconceived, idealised and often romanticised perception. We may find it difficult to stomach what Baynton says of the male in the story yet the truth remains that men like this actually exist. The world has as many cowards as it has heroes, perhaps more. Could it be possible that heroes at their core are cowards that God has blessed with a sense of shame that propells them forward into action and out and away from that shameful place. Meanwhile all the rest of us are quite comfortable just existing somewhere in the middle ground.

  4. May 3, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Baynton and lawson

    Even though both the writers show a very different side to the Aussie working male, they are both still extremely relevent. They both speak from their own experiences and perspective. Through reading stories from different viewpoints, we are challenged out of complacently veiwing the world from our preconceived, idealised and often romanticised perception. We may find it difficult to stomach what Baynton says of the male in the story yet the truth remains that men like this actually exist. The world has as many cowards as it has heroes, perhaps more. Could it be possible that heroes at their core are cowards that God has blessed with a sense of shame that propells them forward into action and out and away from that shameful place. Meanwhile all the rest of us are quite comfortable just existing somewhere in the middle ground.

  5. May 3, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Baynton and lawson

    Even though both the writers show a very different side to the Aussie working male, they are both still extremely relevent. They both speak from their own experiences and perspective. Through reading stories from different viewpoints, we are challenged out of complacently veiwing the world from our preconceived, idealised and often romanticised perception. We may find it difficult to stomach what Baynton says of the male in the story yet the truth remains that men like this actually exist. The world has as many cowards as it has heroes, perhaps more. Could it be possible that heroes at their core are cowards that God has blessed with a sense of shame that propells them forward into action and out and away from that shameful place. Meanwhile all the rest of us are quite comfortable just existing somewhere in the middle ground.

  6. May 3, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Baynton and lawson

    Even though both the writers show a very different side to the Aussie working male, they are both still extremely relevent. They both speak from their own experiences and perspective. Through reading stories from different viewpoints, we are challenged out of complacently veiwing the world from our preconceived, idealised and often romanticised perception. We may find it difficult to stomach what Baynton says of the male in the story yet the truth remains that men like this actually exist. The world has as many cowards as it has heroes, perhaps more. Could it be possible that heroes at their core are cowards that God has blessed with a sense of shame that propells them forward into action and out and away from that shameful place. Meanwhile all the rest of us are quite comfortable just existing somewhere in the middle ground.

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