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non-fiction

The book cover of City Bushman

City Bushman

Christopher Lee
ISBN:1 92073 170 9
RRP: $29.95

Henry Lawson continues to be invoked as an authentic representative of the Australian spirit. In times and places both remote and present people have felt drawn to his writing while others railed against him. Prime Minister Billy Hughes said he was ‘part of the national life of the people’ and threw him a State funeral, but Jack Lang thought this fuss about ‘a down-and-out scribbler’ rang ‘hollow’. Sydney’s Telegraph wanted a Lawson monument of Statue of Liberty proportions. A special issue of the School Magazine featured his work, while warning of the dangers of alcoholism. During the Cold War the communists claimed him as their own, and Frank Hardy was convinced of a mystical psychic bond. More recently, Paul Kelly called Lawson a romantic and a racist and linked him to Pauline Hanson.

Chris Lee maps the route of Lawson’s celebrity - the variety of uses to which his name and reputation have been put. He identifies a pervasive tension between the popular and the cultured, the amateur and the professional, the local and metropolitan. While Australians call upon Henry Lawson in the name of a united nation, those calls have always been troubled by social, cultural and political disagreements.

City Bushman is an original, sharp-eyed and sympathetic study of a lively Australian legend.



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