Late Retrospectives on Twentieth-Century Catastrophes: the Novels of Ronald McKie
MetadataShow full item record
This essay examines the representation of early twentieth-century Australia in three novels, The Mango Tree, The Crushing, and Bitter Bread, which were published in the1970s by the well-known journalist Ronald McKie. The novels make the catastrophes of World War I and the Great Depression, and the frenzies of the intervening Jazz Age palatable and engaging for a later, comparatively comfortable Australian readership. They seek further to reconcile readers with the pain of living by promoting ethics of courage, kindness and decency. The novels assume and defend a central Anglo-Celtic identity for Australians. While they reject English cultural and political control, they value the input of Continental European and Asian immigrants. Living Aboriginal people are a notable absence from all three novels, but The Mango Tree seeks to appropriate Aboriginal feeling for country for the native-born descendants of settlers. Through comic-satiric depictions of life in rural Queensland communities McKie's fiction warns of the dangers of insularity for the nation as a whole.
Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (JASAL)
Copyright remains with the authors 2014. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. For information about this journal please refer to the journal’s website or contact the authors.
Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)