Preface [chapter]

1971 Social Patterns in Australian Literature  
Preface THIS study examines Australian literature, not as literature, but as Australian-as the expression of significant patterns of thought, feeling, and behaviour distinguishing the Australian society. Whilst it recognizes the existence of other social patterns in our writing, it is concerned especially with the major ones, and it naturally concentrates on their most representative writers rather than on those authors who have deviated from the main literary traditions. As a socio-literary
more » ... erpretation it attempts to define and analyse the major social patterns, to trace their origins, and to explore their interrelations. The first, introductory chapter clears the ground by a discussion of the aims, problems, and limits of this complex task. The second chapter follows on with the integrating principle that brings the diversity of the patterns into an ecological unity, since the shaping of the society is seen as the interaction between the People and the Place. It is not a case of geographical determinism alone, because at times the nature of the People-which included, of course, the cultural forms and national traditions brought here from England, Scotland, and Ireland-was the stronger force in moulding the patterns. Events of history, such as the establishment of the convict system, also played their considerable parts. Often, however, the Place was the primary determinant of the social patterns. They were largely born of the land, epiphanies of the genius loci, the spirit of the country. To some extent, therefore, this study is an essay in human ecology, and chapter III surveys the environmental and historical factors at work. Tlie separate patterns are then analysed and illustrated in the remaining chapters. The literary evidence indicates that the major patterns were largely formed during the first half of the nineteenth century, and arose among the bushmen, comprising the settlers, squatters, selectors, and bush workers. Behind them lay the fundamental factor of the bush itself, not because of any fanciful mystique of the soil, but simply because of the hard, practical fact that during the pastoral age the character of the land determined so emphatically, so inevitably, the kind of economy, the way of living, and the distinctive outlook on life.
doi:10.1525/9780520316195-001 fatcat:o6zshob75ndohbnzolljjkqcly