Tilting at Windmills
Up until the late 1960s the story of Australian literary magazines was one of continuing struggle against the odds, and of the efforts of individuals, such as Clem Christesen, Stephen Murray-Smith, and Max Harris. During that time, the magazines played the role of 'enfant terrible', creating a space where unpopular opinions and writers were allowed a voice. The magazines have very often been ahead of their time and some of the agendas they have pursued have become 'central' to representations, where once they were marginal. Broadly, 'little' magazines have often been more influential than their small circulations would first indicate, and the author's argument is that they have played a valuable role in the promotion of Australian literature.
About the author
Phillip Edmonds lectured in Australian Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide. He has also taught at the Victorian College of the Arts and Griffith University. His PhD, from Deakin University in 1997, is a study of the short story in Australia during the 1970s and 80s. In the 1970s he edited Contempa, and more recently, Wet Ink: The Magazine of New Writing between 2005 and 2012. Phillip is also the author of eight books, including the novella Leaving Home with Henry (2010) and a collection of short stories Don’t Let me Fall (1989).
'Edmonds’s monograph is quietly passionate about the enduring worth of literary magazines. It is also, as is appropriate for a man who has devoted many years to their production and dissemination, a rolling elegy. He knows that our national circumstances have hamstrung the possibility of a more established literary culture.'
Geordie Williamson, Chief Literary Critic, The Australian.
'Rather than producing a flawless work of scholarship, Edmonds has written an actual book that—just like literary journals it analyses—would interest actual readers, rather than insiders and academics. It is compulsory for anyone who cares about contemporary Australian literature.'
Emmett Stinson, Sydney Review of Books.
'The title of Phillip Edmond's survey of literary magazines from 1968-2012, Tilting at Windmills, signals that his subject is a quixotic, but also brave and unquenchable enterprise.'
Peter Pierce, The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, 18 April 2015.
'A study of literary magazines in Australia is long overdue. In the past there has been the odd story of an individual journal and some analysis by The Australia Council for The Arts, the latter more to justify its funding practices than to offer insight into what still remains a fascinating cottage industry. Fascinating, that is, if, like me, you have an interest in the fringes of Australian publishing. And this book certainly lingers at the fringe.'
Jeremy Fisher, Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, 19 (2).
'As a guide to who was writing in which journals, and to key influences (such as the innovative Tabloid Story, which piggy-backed on other journals and newspapers and re-established the short story in the national literary scene), Tilting at Windmills is the book to read.'
Margaret Daymond et al., The Year’s Work in English Studies, 2017.