Sydney or the Bush: Some Literary Images
AbstractIt has frequently been observed, as something paradoxical, that although Australia from the 1890s was one of the most highly urbanised countries, its literature appeared to be preoccupied with the countryside. This 'paradox' was noted by contemporaries as well as by later commentators. In his introduction to Australian Writers (1896) Desmond Byrne asked whether local novelists 'who find so little material in Sydney or Melbourne' had seen what Henry James and W. D. Howells had done with their cities, and Byrne quotes the Australasian Critic in 1890 for the view that English readers of Australian fiction must form the impression that 'big cities are unknown in Australia'. In his Victorian Cities (1963) Asa Briggs makes a similar observation that 'at a time when the "muckrakers" were exposing the evils of the American cities ... Australian interests were diverted from the city altogether', and gives as his chief example the work of Henry Lawson.