What Happens When Prose Turns to Drama: Clemente/ Catalyst Week 7

Henry Lawson

We had an intensive afternoon exploring the characteristics of Henry Lawson’s Prose (both journalism and short story). He was such an innovator in the way he managed with so few words to evoke so much, especially in the area of people’s feelings. He was also the writer who brought the life of Australian everyday usage into literature. The Australia language was literally born through Henry Lawson’s wish to bring all the local voices into his writing. Here are the concluding words of that amazingly rich short story “Drifted Back” which captures so well the local idiom and the feeling that goes with it:

“Things is changed. The old houses is pretty much the same, an’ the old signs want touchin’ up and paintin’ jest as had as ever; an’ there’s that old palin’ fence that me an’ Ben Hake an’ Jimmy Nowlett put up twenty year ago. I’ve tramped and travelled long ways since then. But things is changed — at least, people is. . . . Well, I must be goin’. There’s nothing to keep me here. I’ll push on and get into my track again. It’s cooler travellin’ in the night.”

“Yes, it’s been pretty hot to-day.”

“Yes, it has. Well, s’long.”

“Good day. Merry Christmas!”

“Eh? What? Oh, yes! Same to you! S’long!”

“Good day!” He drifted out and away along Sunset Track.

We had the opportunity to compare the textual version of this story with a filmed dramatization. This enabled us to list the array of extra-linguistic elements that the film maker can bring to bear on the text, amplifying its connotation through sound effects, pace and a variety of other plastic elements.

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Lecture/ Seminar 1

Lecture/ Seminar 2

Blog Topics arising from this week’s class:

CREATIVE: Write a short paragraph in the style of Henry Lawson. It can either be a description of place, using minimalist language, or a description of people talking to each other. See if you can mimic Lawson’s style.

CRITICAL: Write a short research paragraph on Henry Lawson’s insight into people and situations. Use the story “Drifted Back” as the focus of your paragraph.

REMEMBER: Each week you must make at least one comment on the work of another student in our class.

REMEMBER: NEXT WEEK WE WILL ALL BE MEETING ON THE STEPS OF THE STATE LIBRARY IN MACQUARIE STREET AT 1.50 PM (LEARNING PARTNERS ARE WELCOME!).

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