New Norman Lindsay novels: stitched together stories of friendship and family seen for the first time


Megan Mooney Taylor, Swinburne University of Technology

Norman Lindsay’s novel for children, The Magic Pudding, turned 100 last year and was widely celebrated. But the Lindsay family’s auction of three previously unseen manuscripts could help us gain a greater understanding of his novels for adults.

The manuscripts were held by Lindsay’s family since his death in 1969, and they have never been seen, aside from a few close friends and members of Lindsay’s family who were trusted readers.

They were auctioned by Sydney Rare Books in June, and all three were purchased by the State Library of New South Wales for the Mitchell Library Rare Manuscripts Collection, which has significant Lindsay holdings.

Turning brittle pages

Lindsay published eleven works of fiction from 1913 to 1968, including Redheap, the first novel by an Australian-born writer to be banned for import into Australia in 1930 from English publisher Faber and Faber after it was declared obscene by authorities.

His writing generally focused on small groups of friends, schoolmates or families and their complex relationships. The struggle for independence from the dominating and restrictive family is a constant theme in his work. These threads also tie the newly emerged manuscripts together.

To a literary archival researcher, these manuscripts are golden and shining and magnificent. To the average reader, though, they are a bit on the scrappy side.

Lindsay sewed his manuscripts together with thread, and then bound the spine in leftover canvas scraps he had lying around his studio. These bindings still hold, but not securely.

As the pages turn, the age of the manuscripts can be felt in the brittle fold – rather than bend, of the paper. There are brown cigarette burns on some of the pages, notes and even the sketch of a female face on others.

Norman Lindsay with wife Rose, circa 1920. Photoraphed by Harold Cazneaux.
State Library of NSW

Three novels

Previously unseen novel Uncle Ben shows Lindsay’s cheeky side. Photographed by Lionel Lindsay.
National Library of Australia

The three novels, Bungen Beach, Landfalls and Uncle Ben, were written between 1940 and Lindsay’s death in 1969. Bungen Beach, was refused for publication by Angus and Robertson. They took another of his novels, Dust or Polish? instead, and released it in 1950.

The novels are a thematic continuation of the issues Lindsay addressed in his earlier, published, works; the restrictions of domesticity on the intellectual and sexual development of adolescents, the importance of homosocial relationships, artistic freedom and the social restrictions of small-town life.

The bigger story these manuscripts tell is one of a writer, an artist, who couldn’t let his mind or hands rest, who needed to be creating constantly. He had themes of creative and intellectual, as well as sexual and social, freedom on his mind. From Landfalls:

‘Hanged if I believe that only getting food out of it, and making a joke of it, solves the problem of life,’ he said.

‘And what is the problem of life?’ asked Cardigan blandly.

‘Well, hang it, developing – expressing yourself somehow. I mean, if you have something to say – if you want to write, for instance. Hang it, even developing a faculty – medicine, for instance…’

Lindsay sketches at Springwood. Photograph by Harold Cazneaux.
Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

This drive led him to write novels when the dusk fell and the light on his hilltop studio at Springwood was no longer conducive to painting.

Even though the narratives in two of these novels repeated many of the themes, and sometimes even the scenes, of novels he had written before, he was compelled to write them, to see if he could find a more effective form for his stories.

Bungen Beach follows two families living in a small community on the New South Wales coast, and the gradual sexual awakening of two women in those families, Vera and Norina.

This theme is one found in other Lindsay works, including Redheap, Pan in the Parlour, The Cousin from Fiji, and Miracles by Arrangement. Bungen Beach begins with two male escapees from the city, Archer and Pilbury, who add tension and humour to the narrative.

Landfalls, the novel dedicated to Lindsay’s biographer John Hetherington, returns to the town of Redheap to explore similar themes of sexual awakening, the ignominy of social and class restrictions, and the necessary escape from the home:

‘Well, they’re that high,’ said Elfie, which rewarded Ronald’s diplomacy with a smooth section of her midriff for investigation.

Instantly Mucker said ‘Let’s have a feel of high stomach’s on you, Trix,’ which abated Trixy’s primness to a squeal of ‘Ouch – that’s my real stomach.’

Fido passionately desired to approve himself an easy fellow on those terms, but his speechless adoration of Queenie could not bear to take liberties with her anatomy…

This novel is less cohesive than Bungen Beach or Uncle Ben, and the cast of characters sometimes feel outside the author’s control.

Scene of the crime

The return to Redheap as a setting is significant as it is the first time Lindsay returned to the fictional town after the novel of the same name was censored. Two of his other novels, Saturdee and Halfway to Anywhere, follow the same themes as Redheap and can be considered with it as a Bildungsroman trilogy – a literary coming-of-age genre – but their fictional township remains unnamed.

Lindsay felt the impact of the censorship keenly; he was worried he would be arrested and decided to leave the country, sending a telegram to The Daily Telegraph as his ship sailed:

Goodbye to the best country in the world, if it was not for the Wowsers.

The decision to revisit the fictionalised space that caused so much trauma would have been loaded with both emotion and rejuvenation.

Lindsay sets sail, circa 1930. Fairfax archive.
National Library of Australia

Of the three novels, however, it is Uncle Ben that is the most polished and well-executed. It brings in new characters and themes as well as drawing on Lindsay’s expertise in ships (he made models of them) and mining (his hometown of Creswick was a gold-mining town).

Seated on the slips of the boat shed, he and Ben smoked their dark plug tobacco while they recalled remembered ship’s runs, of which old sailors have the phenominal [sic] memory that a cruder faculty in the world of sport transfers to the pedigrees and performances of racehorses. But the record of a ship’s run is not merely a dry entry in her log, but a testimony to her lines, her masting and sailing plan, and the skill of those who handled her, vindicating a tradition in sea craft from Odysseus to Captain Walgett of the Cutty Sark.

The character of Uncle Ben, a wanderer and adventurer who returns to his family home following a mining accident, is richly drawn and complex, as well as having Lindsay’s signature humour and cheek. In one scene, Uncle Ben collects all the leftover food on the dining room table onto his plate, covers it in tomato sauce, and eats it noisily and joyously, to the discomfort of his snobbish nephews and nieces.

These new novels, each bringing their own clues from Lindsay’s rich imagination and unique perspective, add depth and understanding to research and study of Lindsay’s creative output.

This week is Sydney Rare Book Week.The Conversation

Megan Mooney Taylor, Sessional Academic in Creative Writing and Literature, Swinburne University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Google Play Books – New Features


The link below is to an article that takes a look at new features for Google Play Books.

For more visit:
https://www.blog.google/products/google-play/play-books-new-experimental-features/

Google Play Books News


The links below are to articles reporting on recent news concerning Google Play Books and new features that have been added to that platform.

For more visit:
https://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/google-play-books-launches-beta-features
https://the-digital-reader.com/2019/08/15/google-is-beta-testing-custom-shelves-search-features/

Audible has a New Feature


The links below are to articles that take a look at the latest feature added to Audible – ‘Audible Captions.’

For more visit:
https://blog.nathanbransford.com/2019/07/audible-adds-a-controversial-new-feature-this-week-in-books
https://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2019/07/22/soon-youll-be-able-to-read-audible-audiobooks-video/

New Harry Potter Books


The link below is to an article that takes a look at the 4 new Harry Potter books.

For more visit:
https://goodereader.com/blog/digital-publishing/jk-rowling-blesses-readers-with-four-new-harry-potter-books

Latest Kindle Update Includes New Sorting Ability


The links below are to articles reporting on the recent Kindle software update that includes new sorting ability.

For more visit:
https://goodereader.com/blog/kindle/kindle-can-now-sort-by-samples-kindle-unlimited-and-prime-reading
https://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2019/05/31/kindle-software-update-5-11-2-adds-more-sorting-options/

Sylvia Plath’s new short story was never ‘lost’ – so why is the media saying it was ‘just discovered’?



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Archivists put an immense amount of work into organizing, digitizing and maintaining repositories.
AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Bethany Anderson, University of Virginia

The recent publication of Sylvia Plath’s short story “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom” has been met with much fanfare, with the media eager to highlight that the story had been “lost,” only to have recently been “found.”

The Boston Globe described the work as “recently discovered” in its headline. A Vox article evoked a scene of abandonment and deterioration – the story had “languished in her archives for decades.”

And a recent New Yorker article, “A Lost Story by Sylvia Plath Contains the Seeds of the Writer She Would Become,” noted that “not even the author’s estate had known the story existed until the critic and academic Judith Galzer-Raymo stumbled over it while doing research in Plath’s archives.”

But was Plath’s story really “lost”? For years, “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom” has been preserved – and has been accessible to the public – at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, thanks to the work of archivists and other cultural stewards.

As an archivist, I bristle at this sort of misleading coverage, which is only the latest example of the media ignoring the work of archivists in order to highlight something found in archives as “newly discovered.”

What’s behind this media impulse and why do these mischaracterizations persist?

Archival tropes

I’ve become all too accustomed to seeing headlines about “long-lost” manuscripts that have been found.

For example, in 2012 two articles in The Atlantic debated whether a medical report relating to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination amounted to a “discovery.”

As another example, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported a “long-lost letter” by René Descartes that had “lain buried in the archives [at Haverford College] for more than a century.” The public also recently learned of letters from interned Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War that had been “long-forgotten in the bowels of Library and Archives Canada.” In all these examples, the documents were already preserved and accessible in archival repositories.

And on the rare occasions that archives are featured in the press or in popular culture, they’re usually characterized as old, secluded and dusty places.

For example, in 2013 The New York Times published an article titled “Leaving Cloister of Dusty Offices, Young Archivists Meet Like Minds.”

If the headline alone didn’t convey this sentiment, the text drove it home: The archivists, it read, had “long spent their careers cloistered, like the objects they protected.”

Any archivist reading this story knows that nothing could be further from the truth. In a letter to the editor, Helen W. Samuels, a former archivist at MIT, responded, “While I was delighted that your article focused attention on the talented archivists now employed by so many institutions, I was saddened that it perpetuated the outdated image of archivists as preservers of dusty, precious artifacts maintained in a cloistered environment.”

Innovators versus maintainers

For the record, “dusty” doesn’t characterize any of the repositories I’ve worked in or visited. For example, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia is clean with an open layout, and its spaces are filled with natural light. Similarly, the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library spaces do not fit the “dusty” stereotype.

Perhaps the media finds these tropes appealing because they evoke the romance and mystery of unearthing, discovering and rescuing rare books, documents or artifacts, as if they’re hidden treasures. After all, who doesn’t want to feel like Indiana Jones? And by representing archives as dusty, cloistered places, the materials appear to be on the verge of disappearing into obscurity – that is, unless a researcher comes to the rescue.

Another reason these tropes persist could have to do with the way our society privileges innovators over maintainers. Maintainers, according to scholars Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel, are “those individuals whose work keeps ordinary existence going rather than introducing novel things.”

Archivists are maintainers: They perform the “ordinary” work of acquiring, appraising and arranging archival materials. They respond to the inquiries of students and researchers, and work to preserve materials for posterity.

As members of the archival community have pointed out, this sort of work is generally ignored and misunderstood. Instead, when it comes to stories about archival research, stories will focus on the “innovators” – the scholars who write about the rare manuscript or old letter and, in doing so, rescue these materials from obscurity.

In almost every case, these stories gloss over the fact that these items exist in publicly accessible collections and are described in finding aids and databases.

Giving credit where credit’s due

This is not to take anything away from the work of researchers. Archival research is a process that often involves an intense commitment of time and energy. A researcher can see value or significance in a letter or manuscript that might have otherwise gone unnoticed outside of the archives.

Much of the media coverage of ‘Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom’ describe it as a work that was ‘lost’ and then ‘found.’
Harper Collins

Nonetheless, while a researcher might be the first researcher to read a document, they may not be the first person to have encountered it – not when archivists, curators, librarians and other staff work with materials on a daily basis.

Interestingly, the researcher featured in The New Yorker article about the Plath short story doesn’t appear to have been the first scholar to have “discovered” that “lost” Sylvia Plath story. As Rebecca Baumann, Head of Public Services at the Lilly Library, noted, “Many people have written about [“Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom”] … There’s published scholarship that discusses [it].“

But that doesn’t always make for the best story.The Conversation

Bethany Anderson, University Archivist, University of Virginia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Scotland just bucked the print-is-dying trend with two new Sunday newspapers



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What’s inside?
GingerInc

Tom Collins, University of Stirling

My first job as a trainee reporter was on a Sunday title. Sundays are a breed apart. We had contempt for our daily sister, were drunk until Thursday and staffed by some of some of the oddest journalists in town. Unsurprisingly, the paper doesn’t exist any more.

There is a different rhythm to newsgathering. Much of the Sunday paper has to be away early, with stories that won’t date. Front page leads have to be exclusives, it’s just too risky relying on events to bail you out – even in Northern Ireland in the 1980s where I was working. This is one reason why the sting and the “kiss-and-tell” are among Sunday staples.

If you are a Sunday paper news editor, you live in fear that the splash (the front page story) you have been nursing all week will leak to another title. The news business is a kleptocracy, and colleagues on your sister title are the enemy. All’s fair in love, war and newsgathering.

Promiscuous Sunday readers

Sunday newspaper readers are different, too. They still have a little time on their hands, and a desire to be entertained. They will frequently buy titles at odds with their daily habits: Guardian readers flirting with the Sunday Times; Sun readers, bereft of the News of the World, picking up the Sunday Mirror or heading “upmarket” to the Mail on Sunday.

Richard Walker, now editor of the Sunday National.
Newsquest

Sunday is also the day readers are tempted to take a second title; and in those parts of the UK the BBC euphemistically calls “the nations and the regions”, indigenous papers rub shoulders with the big London players from what is still called Fleet Street.

But as the economics of publishing a newspaper become increasingly challenging, stand-alone titles published once a week look like a luxury to the accountants who now run media organisations. So seven-day operations make sense. In 2012, Rupert Murdoch replaced the discredited News of the World with a Sunday edition of the Sun.

Heritage, politics and independent views

Newsquest executives in Scotland came to the same conclusion when they announced in August that the Herald – its daily broadsheet – was to run seven days a week. The victim was the Sunday Herald, then without an editor.

In normal circumstances, that would have been that. But this is Scotland, and Scotland is not normal. Newsquest’s problem was the Sunday Herald’s editorial support for Scottish independence. Taken down that road by its urbane editor, Richard Walker, the Sunday Herald was the lone media voice supporting independence in the 2014 referendum. Walker went on to become founding editor of the National – designed to tap into nationalist sentiment after the independence referendum.

The first front pages.
Newsquest

Although the Herald claims to be neutral on independence – even the dogs in the street know where it sits on the issue. It may not wear a sash and a bowler hat, but it is temperamentally unionist.

With the SNP now established as the natural party of government in Scotland, and with a second independence referendum on the political agenda, killing off the only Sunday in favour of Scotland as a sovereign nation would have displayed a distinct lack of pragmatism.

So, against the tide of consolidation, Newsquest’s single title was replaced by two. Say hello to the “neutral” Herald on Sunday in a racy tabloid livery, and the Sunday National – with Richard Walker again as launch editor.

What the papers say

It’s a brave move for both titles. It is notoriously difficult to persuade readers to change their habits. Can a Herald reader who is wedded to the Observer or Mail on Sunday be seduced back? And what about the fledgling National? It’s tough out there.

The journalism is solid, but – in the first two weeks at least – neither generated the front pages they needed to compete effectively. Rule 101 of a launch edition is to have an exclusive. The Herald’s “Lifeline to Scotland’s islands in jeopardy” did not cut it. The Sunday National led on “Boris ‘set to go for PM’ … and trigger Indyref2”. Billed as an “exclusive”, it was one of those exclusives nobody else would want.

Inside, the National was pacier than the Herald. Even Sundays need news, and it delivered. The internet sensation “giggling granny” was a classic Sunday read, and Jennifer Johnston’s big spread on Scotland’s postcode lottery for primary one parents deserved its prominence.

Foreign correspondent David Pratt brings insight, gravitas and an international perspective to the Sunday National’s broadsheet Seven Days section; its news and features agenda is not quite as unremittingly politically driven as the daily, though Nicola Sturgeon got star billing.

The Herald suffers most from the transition. In tabloid form, it’s like an ageing uncle wearing a baseball cap. The daily broadsheet can sell a story; on the tabloid, the squeezed-in lead barely makes a splash. Inside, the flow of news and features is clunky. “The Week” section, opening the paper, is a mess. A spread on Strictly Come Dancing up front jarred, and the big read on pages six and seven kills the pace up front.

That may change as the paper settles down. But it should be taken as a warning not to mess with the format of the daily, especially if trying to align the titles.

The lifestyle magazine shared between the two titles.
Newsquest

Oddly, both share the same sports coverage and an unbranded Sunday Life supplement. The National needs it to bulk up. It’s a catch-all lifestyle supplement that doesn’t have a clear sense of purpose. The papers also share David Pratt – a great journalist, but sharing writers and sections muddies the waters. Sundays need to be individualistic.

At their best, Sundays are distinctive, tribal and totally attuned to their readers. If they are to carve out a place for themselves, these two new Sundays are going to have to do more to break exclusives that set the agenda for the week ahead – and give Scottish readers the excuse they need to change their buying habits.The Conversation

Tom Collins, Senior lecturer, Communications, Media and Culture, University of Stirling

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.