Christina Stead, Henry Handel Richardson, Clive James, Germiane Greer

by |January 26, 2010

Bring Back the Cultural Cringe

The cultural cringe served a purpose, it caused the best and brightest to look outwards beyond the Australian Coastline to a world of complexity, of difference, of foreign ideas, foreign questions and answers and of universal solutions. Since the demise of the cringe self-complacency has stifled our endeavours. Our benchmark is ourselves. Our history is confined to this island, oh, and the tiny stretch of Turkey, known as Gallipoli. There was a moment in recent times, more than ten years ago now, when I believed Australia would take a leading role in the development of a Global Community but that was not to be.

We are not an ignorant nation. We travel. We read. We follow, through various, sometimes dubious, means, politics and engage in it. We have a confident voice when expressing our views.

Once we looked out to sea for signs of ships bringing news from the mother country. We are our own mother country now. Yet we still love to sit on the beach and look out to sea. Let’s not stop looking out to sea. Mentally we are turning, some have turned, inwards. There is no inland sea, just dust and heat. Let’s not turn in completely.

On Australia Day I’d like to celebrate the Global Australians: some of our finest writers, who found in the surrounding seas no impediment to their personal patriotism – Christina Stead, Henry Handel Richardson, Frederic Manning, George Johnston, Hal Porter, Patrick White, Germaine Greer, Clive James, Robert Hughes, Peter Carey and Frank Moorhouse… to name but a few…

Advance Australia Fair!

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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