The Literature of the Bush by Jack Hardgraft

The literary taste of Bushland is about as capricious as the whim of the young lady who ring-fences her nether limbs with a crinoline to-day and to-morrow tethers them with a hobble skirt. When I first encountered Bill Bushman he was a thinker and a reader of solid intellectual works (hot from the press preferred). The Conflicts of Science and Religion, Buckle's History of Civilization, Das Kapital, Looking Backward, C├Žsar's Column and Progress and Poverty would generally be found in every Bush humpy. I have refused an offer of a pound for a two-bob copy of Max Nordau's Conventional Lies of Our Civilization at a time when a good horse saddle and bridle could be purchased for that sum. THE BULLETIN was B.B.'s Bible, and he would do a silent 20-mile ride weekly for that pink Abomination. The Lawson, "Banjo" and Dyson sprang up; and he became transformed from a moody thinker into a bellicose reciter of The Man From Snowy River, Trooper Campbell and so forth. Suddenly and without any visible signs of insanity, he developed a mania for the light, breezy, sensational literature of the Deadwood Dick persuasion, which he consumed for breakfast, dinner and tea. Under the Deadwood influence he hailed the passing wayfarer as "Pard," and talked wildly of "getting the drop" on the obese representative of Vested Interests collecting his unearned indictment of a Monday morning. The Deadwood Dick delirium paved the way for a still lower depth of mental prostration, and we find Bill eventually landed among the worshippers of Nat Tripe, alias Gould. Offer the Bushman of to-day his choice of, say, The Boy in the Green and The Cloister and the Hearth, and he will go bald-headed for the former. Gould is of Australian writers the best seller. "Steele Rudd" second. Dyson is the best bookweaver Australia has produced. One does Gould an honor in comparing him with Dyson. The latter's writings are more racy (not more horsey) than Gould's, and more spontaneously humorous than Rudd's. And he is considerably more intellectual and versatile than Davis and Gould rolled into one. Yet in the Bush one rarely meets a Dyson book. A good seller, he finds his audience in the towns and cities where the booklover abides and where frequently the ciculating library displays a catalogue of works best and new as well as choice and old. I admit that I have reluctantly come to the opinion that Bill Bushman of to-day is a literary degenerate. Half an hour's analysis of a Gould hero, and a five minute survey of the ARROW or the HAWKLET, and you can put the plumbob on his mental calibre straight away. He is a different personality altogether to the Bushman of yore. And, his blatant-voiced Unionism notwithstanding, would be if called on to-day put up the fight that the silent saturine Democrats of the nineties did on
behalf of a fair day's wage for a fair day's work. I don't think.

First published in The Bulletin, 12 June 1913

[Note: very definitely a pseudonym.]

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 6, 2008 9:08 AM.

Something in the Night was the previous entry in this blog.

Poem: My Literary Friend by Henry Lawson is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en