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Friday, 8 December 2006

The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature is due to be published in 2008, says Susan Wyndham on the Undercover blog. And a "separate indigenous volume will follow in 2009" she writes. But the unit's own Web page says that the Aboriginal volume will appear in 2008 with the Australian literature volume appearing in 2009. Which is correct?

Whichever is right, it will have "1500 pages and 600,000 words, including all forms from novel extracts to letters, speeches and diaries, with introductions, short biographies and suggested reading", says Wyndham. According to the Macquarie Web site:

Works included in the anthology may be speeches, comical or devotional writing, film screenplays, translations or letters, as well as biography, drama and novel extracts, poetry and short stories. Consideration will be given to classics and familiar names that readers may expect to find. The approach will value capaciousness, merit and cultural significance as hallmarks, aiming for a volume with a wide and lively range of texts for our time. In addition, the volume will include biographical details about the authors of the works selected, an introductory essay, major essays setting the works in their historical context and suggestions for further reading.

Looks interesting. According to The Australian Academy of the Humanities:

The anthology aims to present Australian writing in a format comparable to the definitive Norton Anthology of American Literature: perhaps 1500 pages of selections, classroom-tested, in authoritative texts with lucid and helpful contextual material. The anthology will encompass the variety of non-fiction prose (journals, letters, essays, life writing, history writing, environmental writing) and translation from non-English languages, alongside poetry, fiction, drama and screenplay, with a strong focus on the period from 1950-2000. Material from Indigenous tradition and Indigenous writing will be an important presence throughout.

Wyndham reports that the total budget is $1.75 million, including "an Australian Research Council linkage grant of $241,000".

Allen & Unwin will be the publisher and Sydney, Adelaide and Deakin universities are also involved. This collaboration gives the lie to the contention that Australian literature is languishing in tertiary institutions. It's also interesting to see that Macquarie U continues to innovate. After the Macquarie Dictionary team decamped to Sydney U, I thought they'd run out of publishing puff. Seems it's not true.

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