Xavier Herbert. Requiem for Genius

Russell McDougall

Abstract


In today’s global celebrity culture it’s hard to imagine a word more over-used and abused than ‘genius’. It is a slippery word with a long and contradictory conceptual history. Yet, in the Land of the Tall Poppy, self-confessions of genius invariably have paved a broad road to public ridicule and denigration. Xavier Herbert’s notion of genius was not static. It changed throughout his life and it evolved through his writing. He agreed with Carlyle that the first condition of genius must always be a ‘transcendent capacity of taking trouble’ and on this foundation he built his own concept of genius, as the unending ‘capacity for loving’. This article explores what genius meant to Xavier Herbert and how it translated into his fiction, before considering how our sense of genius today influences the way we respond to his most challenging fictions of love and hate, 'Capricornia' and 'Poor Fellow My Country'.

Full Text:

PDF HTML

References

Antonielli, A., ‘William Butler Yeats’s “The Symbolic System of William Blake”’, Estudias Irlandeses, no. 3, 2008, pp. 10–28. https://doi.org/10.24162/ei2008-2940.

Birns, N. and R. McNeer, A Companion to Australian Literature Since 1900, Camden House, Rochester, NY, 2007.

Borges, J.L., ‘The Thousand and One Nights’, Seven Nights, trans. E. Weinberger, New Directions Books, New York, 1984.

Brophy, K., ‘On Recognising Collaboration’, Axon: Creative Explorations, vol. 6, no. 1, 2016, http://www.axonjournal.com.au/issue-10/recognising-collaboration.

Browne, J., ‘Inspiration to Perspiration: Francis Galton’s Hereditary Genius in Victorian Context’, in Genealogies of Genius, ed. J. Chaplin, and D. McMahon, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137497673_6.

Bruno, P., Kant’s Concept of Genius, Continuum International Publishing Group, New York, 2010.

Bulletin, 1 July 1926, np.

Carson, J., The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750–1940, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2007.

Clark, M., ‘Artist Turns to Angry Prophet’, Canberra Times, 12 September 1975.

Darby, R., ‘Wrestling with Old Horrible’, [A review of de Groen, F., Xavier Herbert: A Biography], Eureka Street, vol. 9, no. 4, 1999, pp.1–5.

De Groen, F., Xavier Herbert. A Biography, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1999.

Derrida, J., Disseminations, trans. B. Johnson, University of Chicago, Chicago, 1987.

Elliott, B. (ed.), The Jindybworobaks, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1979.

Feng Shui, ‘Counterfeit White Cargo,’The Bulletin, 8 July 1926, p. 12.

Feng Shui, The Bulletin, 12 August 1926, p. 34.

Freud, S., Moses and Monotheism, trans. K. Jones, Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, 1939.

Gordon, L., White Cargo, The Four Seas Company, Africa, 1925.

Galland, A. (trans.), Les Mille et Une Nuits, contes arabes traduits en français, 12 vol. (vol. 1–10, 1704–12; vol. 11 and 12, 1717), Editions Garnier and Brothers, Paris, 1949.

Harris, W., ‘The Quest for Form’, Kunapipi, vol. 1, 1983, pp. 21–7.

Heiss, A., Dhuuluu-Yala: To Talk Straight—Publishing Indigenous Literature, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2003.

Herbert, Sadie and Xavier Herbert Collection, UQFL 83, Box 26A.

Herbert, Papers of Xavier Herbert, National Library of Australia, MS 758.

Herbert, X., ‘Machinations of a Jinx’, Australian Journal, 1 October 1933, pp. 1210–15.

Herbert, X., Capricornia, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1949 [1938].

Herbert, X., Seven Emus, Fontana, Melbourne, 1977 [1959].

Herbert, X., Soldiers’ Women, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1961.

Herbert, X., Disturbing Element, Fontana, Melbourne, 1963.

Herbert, X., Larger Than Life: Twenty Short Stories, Collins, Sydney, 1963.

Herbert, X., Poor Fellow My Country, Collins, Sydney, 1975.

Heseltine, H., ‘Review of A Long and Winding Road: Xavier Herbert's Literary Journey’, Australian Literary Studies, vol. 21, no. 3, 2004, pp. 398–99. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.a2c312509a.

Hoeller, H., ‘Race, Modernism, and Plagiarism: The Case of Nella Larsen’s “Sanctuary”’, African American Review, vol. 40, no. 3, 2006, pp. 421–38.

Huggan, G., Australian Literature: Postcolonialism, Racism, Transnationalism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007.

Leane, J., ‘Tracking Our Country in Settler Literature’, JASAL: Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, no. 14, vol. 3, pp. 1–17.

Leonard, D. and C.R. King (eds), Commodified and Criminalized: New Racism and African Americans in Contemporary Sports, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011.

Mann, C., ‘The Lawson Legend’, The Bulletin, vol. 80, no. 4131, 15 April 1959, pp. 11, 45.

McMahon, D.M., Divine Fury: A History of Genius, Basic Books, New York, 2013.

McDougall, R., ‘Capricornia: Recovering the Imaginative Vision of a Polemical Novel’, Australian Literary Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, 1981, pp. 67–8. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.873159b6f7.

McDougall, R. (ed.), South of Capricornia, Short Stories 1925–1934 by Xavier Herbert, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1990.

McDougall, R., ‘The Intertexts of Capricornia’, in The Shadow of the Precursor, ed. D. Glen, M.R.Haque, B.Kooyman and N.Bierbaum, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2012, pp. 62–73.

Monahan, S., A Long and Winding Road: Xavier Herbert’s Literary Journey, University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 2003.

Mudge, M., ‘Capricornia: Seasonal, Diurnal and Colour Patterns’, Australian Literary Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, 1979, pp. 156–66. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.68d10bcddf.

Morley, E.J. (ed.), Edward Young’s Conjectures on Original Composition, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1918.

Murphy G., ‘Rolled Gold Genius’, https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/a-rolled-gold-genius.

North, M., Yarn Spinners: A Story in Letters, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 2001.

Sansom, B. ‘Looter of the Dreamings: Xavier Herbert and the Taking of Kaijek’s Newsong Story’, Oceania, vol. 76, no. 1, 2006, pp. 83–104. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1834-4461.2006.tb03033.x.

Sexton, J., ‘Why Bother with Patrick White’, The Weekend Australian, 15–16 July 2006, p. 21.

Simonton, V., Hell’s Playground, BiblioLife, Charleston SC, 2009.

Spillers, H., Black, White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1996.

Stephensen, P.R., Foundations of Culture in Australia, W.J. Miles, Gordon, NSW, 1936.

Stephensen, P.R., Papers, Mitchell Library, MSS 1284 Y2117.

Stone, G., ‘Australia Has Not So Far Produced One Writer of Genius’, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 1985, p. 40.

Taylor, C., The Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1991.

Veblen, T., Essays In Our Changing Order, The Viking Press, New York, 1943.

Webb, J. and M. Carroll, ‘A Seethe of Poets: Creativity and Community’, TEXT, no. 40, Special Issue: ‘Making It New: Finding Contemporary Meanings for Creativity’, April 2017, http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue40/­Webb&Carroll.pdf.

Yeats, W.B., ‘The Second Coming’, in Michael Robartes and the Dancer, Dundrum, Cuala, 1921.

Yu, O., Chinese in Australian Fiction, 1888–1988, Cambria Press, Amherst, NY, 2008.

Yu, O., ‘An Aboriginal Tale’, in Kingsbury Tales, Brandl & Schlesinger, Blackheath, 2008.

Zeitlin, I.M., The Historical Muhammad, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2007.



PDF HTML


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/csr.v23i2.5821

Share this article: