Horne, Donald: The Lucky Country

Donald Horne

The Lucky Country, Penguin, Ringwood, Vic., third revised edition, 1974; first published 1964; later editions

Classic analysis of the emerging ‘modern’ Australia of the 1960s, touching on Anzac along the way, as it seemed to the author 50 years ago.

On Anzac Day, commemorating the landing of Australians at Gallipoli in 1915, in every town in Australia ordinary veterans in very ordinary clothes march down the streets (many out of step), go through a brief ceremony and then many of them go and get drunk. There are themes of death and sacrifice; but the appeal of Anzac Day is as an expression of the commonsense of man (even death is a leveller), of the necessity of sticking together in adversity. It is not a patriotic day but, as Peter Coleman said in The Bulletin, “a tribal festival”, the folk seeing it as it is – unpretentious and comradely. (p. 21)

It was if the whole process of nationhood [at Federation] was so easy that it was not until men died – if quite irrelevantly, and in a minor and unsuccessful campaign – that Australians felt they had earned their way into the world. This is one of the several reasons why the Anzac legend has been such an important element of belief among 2oth Century Australians. (p. 155)

Two items marking the 5oth anniversary of the book: Carl Reinecke; an ABC broadcast with Edmund Campion, Julia Horne and Mark McKenna. A version of the Reinecke piece appeared in Meanjin in 2016 and Nick Horne, editor of his father’s Selected Writings, responded to it. Frank Bongiorno reviewed Selected Writings.

3 September 2013 updated

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