The Quality of 'Life': Dorothy Hewett's Literary Criticism 1945-1969


  • Fiona Morrison University of Sydney


Dorothy Hewett, literary criticism, Katherine Susannah Prichard, Kylie Tennant, Edith Sitwell, Randoph Stow, postcolonial reading


Dorothy Hewett's literary criticism engages the questions of canon, genre, style and cultural production that animated her writing life. Her assessment of other writers' work is therefore interesting in and of itself and also powerfully suggestive of the ways in which her own work might be situated, read and re-read. Dorothy Hewett left an impressive archive of non-fiction prose, which variously exhibits the facility and energy evident in Wild Card, and further attests to her generativity across and within a variety of genres. Yet Hewett's critical prose if far from 'wild'. Her literary criticism particularly demonstrates a collected rhetorical understanding of genre and audience. Hewett's criticism presents a direct and intensely personal voice and a marked preference for the categories of the affective and energetic. It is the category of 'life' that her work values, and this notion or topos of 'life' is the centrepiece of her changing and developing views on literature and the literary field.

Author Biography

Fiona Morrison, University of Sydney

Dr Fiona Morrison, Lecturer, Department of English, University of Sydney