Reprint: Literary Hoax: "Doctorates" Awarded

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SYDNEY, July 2. - The degree of Doctor of Science in Oxometry has been awarded to the hoax poet, Ern Malley, by the Sydney University Oxometrical Society. Copies of the degree have been given to the two former Sydney University students, Lt James McAuley and Cpl Harold Stewart, who wrote the poems, which were published in the Adelaide literary magazine "Angry Penguins" and hailed by the magazine's editor, Max Harris, as the work of a giant of contemporary Australian poetry.

The real authors have confessed
that they thought their Malley poetry was nonsense. The word "oxometry" is not to be found in any dictionary but is defined by Mr R. N. Bracewell, president of the society, as "'very pretentious talk." The emblem of the society is a bull.

Mr Bracewell said that McAuley
and Stewart had shown a commendable, impartial attitude in conducting an investigation into the oxogenic structure of some contemporary poetry.

The affair has been laughingly
hailed in university circles as Australia's greatest literary hoax. Lt McAuley is a frequent contributor of lyric poetry to many Australian literary journals, and Cpl Stewart, who is at present a patient in a military hospital near Sydney, is also a capable poet.

The American poet, Harry Rosko
lenko, who is at present in Australia with the US Army, selected two of the Ern Malley poems for inclusion in the Australian poetry number of the American magazine "Voices." When the Malley hoax was revealed Roskolenko claimed that the hoaxers had hoaxed themselves by writing poems of which they could feel proud, but so far neither McAuley nor Stewart has appeared anxious to claim serious recognition for their masterpieces of debunking.

First published in The West Australian, 3 July 1944

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 22, 2012 6:44 AM.

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