McQueen, Humphrey: the novels of Eleanor Dark (1973)

McQueen, Humphrey

‘The novels of Eleanor Dark’, Hemisphere, 17, 1, January 1973, pp. 38-41 (pdf of out-of-copyright material made available by the author)

The piece is interesting as a relatively early discussion of this writer (1901-85) and as an indication of then current assessments of other Australian authors.

Dark’s concern with ideas rather than with action [says McQueen] placed her outside the mainstream of Australian fiction, but as authors such as White, Porter and Keneally are accepted it may be that Dark will acquire a new generation of readers who will gain wisdom from her attempts to grapple with those issues which once more beset Australian consciences. She can provide a more than useful point of departure.

Many years later, McQueen’s assessment was revisited by Marivic Wyndham (see particularly her footnote 3 on page 19) . Wyndham wrote the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on Dark. Given McQueen’s remark about Dark being a ‘point of departure’ it is interesting to note that James Michener is said to have modelled his historical novels on Dark’s The Timeless Land (1941).

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Honest History records its appreciation to Humphrey McQueen for making his private archive available to Honest History.

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