Douglas Stewart and the Fragility of Things

By Smith, Vivian | Antipodes, December 2010 | Go to article overview

Douglas Stewart and the Fragility of Things


Smith, Vivian, Antipodes


DOUGLAS STEWART WAS THE LEADING MAN OF LETTERS IN the Australia of his day. His life and work are of particular significance for the cultural phase that extended from the 1930s to the late 1960s and constitute a central point for the study of Australian literary life and its intersections during that period. Stewart was probably the last of his kind in Australia.

In addition to being a poet, dramatist, short story writer, and critic, Stewart was the editor of "The Red Page" of The Bulletin from 1940-1960, a page brought into Australian literary importance by the work of A. G. Stephens and the many others who appeared there for the first time. The Bulletin, incidentally, appealed much to D. H. Lawrence during his Australian sojourn and which he featured in Kangaroo (1923). Throughout his writing life, Stewart was also associated with the publishing house of Angus 6k Robertson, and from 1960 until his retirement, worked there as a reader and commissioning editor. He promoted its annual series of volumes, Australian Poetry, and the short story collections Coast to Coast, as well as inaugurating the Sirius Paperback collections of Australian "classics." Both these now-defunct Sydney institutions gave Stewart a particular position and authority among the writers of his time.

Stewart belongs to a very different literary Australia from the one that prevails today. Even the world of journalism in which he was able to sustain a literary career has changed irrevocably, as has the status and position of the writer. The university study of Australian literature was just gathering momentum during the last decade of Stewart's life, but a future was unimaginable where there would be Australian professors of creative writing and honorary doctorates readily available for poets, playwrights, and novelists. The cult of the launch, the festival, and the literary prize was scarcely known. Writers had not yet become TV celebrities and were not expected to be public performers, traveling around the country to give readings of their work or to promote the sales of their latest volume. But Stewart had an acknowledged place as one of the leading writers of his day; he did his stint of public service for the Commonwealth Literary Fund; he was a guide and mentor to the younger generation of writers he published in the Bulletin and at Angus and Robertson.

Although Stewart is now considered - if he is considered at all - a middle-of-the-road conservative writer who seems by contemporary taste to have sidestepped the major issues of modernism, he actually belonged to the avant garde of his time. His verse dramas, Ned Kelly and Shipiweclc, his experiments with the radio play, The Fire on ate Snow and The Golden Loi>er, and the verse sequences Glencoe and Worsley Enchanted, as well as his attempts to write poetry for film as in The Birdsville Track, were all at the cutting edge of the experiments of the period. The fact that these particular forms have been superseded, at least for the time being, may account in part for the eclipse of interest in his work, but that is only part of the story. Australian poetry has moved in new directions since Stewart's heyday; the questions of Australian identity, that so preoccupied him and other writers and painters of his time have now taken on different forms. Nevertheless, Stewart's work anticipates many later developments, and the ecopoetics now engaging many poets are already present in earlier forms in his work, and in that of a number of his contemporaries.

Some aspects of his work still need investigation. The whole range of his editing has never been examined, and his literary journalism, influential in the circulation and stimulation of opinion in its time, has worn exceptionally well. His engaging memoirs of Norman Lindsay, Kenneth Slessor, and the Bulletin years are key documents of the times. Apart from the literary journalism of Vance and Nettie Palmer, there is no other body of work like his in the Australia of the period, and like them, he has left a substantial archive. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Douglas Stewart and the Fragility of Things
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.