Serle, Geoffrey: From deserts the prophets come

Serle, Geoffrey

From Deserts the Prophets Come: The Creative Spirit in Australia 1788-1972, Heinemann, Mebourne, 1973; online version available; new edition 2013

From Deserts the Prophets Come is a short history of literature, art, music, theatre, architecture, science and learning in Australia. It aims at providing an historical context for the growth of the arts, at bridging the gap between general historians and historians of the arts, and at providing historical perspective for the general reader interested in the creative arts in Australia. Dr Serle brings out to the full the remarkable rise in cultural standards and achievements in recent years [that is, to 1972]; the greater part of the book deals with the last forty years. He discusses the problem of national- versus international-oriented art, and provides an overall theory of cultural growth in a “new” country like Australia. (blurb)

‘The most explicit formulation of the Australian radical nationalist tradition’, according to John Rickard, introducing the new edition, that ‘remains a lively, comprehensive and informative introduction to Australian cultural history’. Also includes a remark about CEW Bean: ‘[I]n his attempt to weld the digger outlook to the outback tradition he made a fascinating contribution to defining Australian identity’. (p. 152)


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