By Ken Goodwin (auth.)
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The 1st choice of cultural stories essays from Australia, chosen and brought for a world readership.
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With his dying breath he exchanges honorific pleasantries with his old London clubmate, Sir Ferdinand Morringer, Inspector of Police, and breathes the name of Aileen Marston, his sweetheart. The faithful Warrigal rides up furiously to pour out a lament over his dead mate. The vigorous narrative is to some extent impeded by the garrulity of the narrator, though his demotic language has its own interest. Nothing is to be taken too seriously in this romantic entertainment,just as the local and Sydney papers do not take too seriously the exploits of Starlight and the efforts of the police to track him down.
It is a novel greatly flawed by the clumsy handling of the various strands of the plot, but idealistic about the values of the English landed gentry. The Hillyar family, though wealthy, are morally cankered; they remain aristocratic colonial visitors. The Burtons are tradespeople and they decide to stay and make their life in the colony. Geoffry Hamlyn is a novel of the squatting-age in Australia that is, the 1830s and l840s, a time of the opening-up of vast tracts for sheep-farming. The Hillyars and the Burtons deals with Australia after the goldrushes began in l85l.
The style was parodied from early in his career, most notably by a THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS OF COLONIZATION 25 writer in Sydney Punch in May 1865 who set his sights on Kendall's poem 'Safi': Was he light in the head that he wandered, That he sang in this ludicrous way, Of the 'distances dim' and the 'spaces' As offriends that we meet every day. His rhymes are the rhymes ofajingler, Like the wavelet's monotonous wash; His words are the words of a dreamer, In love with the beauty of Bosh! Kendall retaliated with 'The Bronze Trumpet', published anonymously in the following year.
A History of Australian Literature by Ken Goodwin (auth.)