Literary Essays

Permanent URI for this collection

Critical literary essays by Gillian Dooley discussing authors and novels.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 46
  • Item
    ‘These Happy Effects on the Character of the British Sailor’: Family Life in Sea Songs of the late Georgian period.
    (Amsterdam University Press, 2020) Dooley, Gillian
    Songs about sailors were popular during the late Georgian period in Britain. Some were directed towards men in the navy or potential recruits, but they were also part of the musical repertoire of the middle-class drawing room. A common theme is the importance of family life. With large numbers of men needed to serve in the military in this time of war and colonial expansion, it was essential for the home front that their families remained cohesive, and ballads were sometimes written with the express purpose of promoting fidelity and patience on the part of both men and women. This chapter examines the varieties of family and conjugal relations presented in the verbal and musical rhetoric of a selection of these songs.
  • Item
    The Library at Soho Square: Matthew Flinders, Sir Joseph Banks and the Publication of A Voyage to Terra Australis.
    (Bibliographical Society of ANZ, 2017) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    An account of Matthew Flinders' research and writing of the introduction to his Voyage to Terra Australis, including his use of London libraries like that of Sir Joseph Banks.
  • Item
    (Mimesis, 2018) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Many of the song lyrics in Jane Austen’s personal music books (some collected or transcribed by her, some inherited or passed on from family members) are couched in the sentimental poetic diction prevalent in the eighteenth century, with highly conventional pastoral settings and imagery. I have been particularly struck by a long ballad in seven parts titled ‘Colin and Lucy’, which is a 1783 setting by Tommaso Giordani of a 1725 poem by Thomas Tickell (1685-1740) describing the betrayal, death and revenge of a wronged woman. The printed music of this ballad is in a book inscribed by Jane Austen, and it seems likely that she was familiar with it and probably sang and played it herself. Several incidents included in the song are echoed and perhaps deliberately parodied in Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility (1811), although the rhetoric and imagery are strikingly different. The novel’s language, though often dramatic, is matter-of-fact and literal. In this paper I will discuss the ballad’s musical and lyrical rhetoric and how Austen alters and undercuts its poetic imagery in her treatment of similarly dramatic (though not fatal) events in the novel.
  • Item
    Review of 'Whaddaya Know?' Writings for Syd Harrex
    (2016-06) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Review of 'Whaddaya Know?' Writings for Syd Harrex edited by Ron Blaber.
  • Item
    Matthew Flinders: the Man Behind the Map of Australia
    (Royal Society of Victoria, 2015) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    In 1925, W.H. Langham wrote of Matthew Flinders that he possessed ‘a personality of singular strength and charm.’ In this lecture, Gillian Dooley will look to the primary sources to build up a portrait of this man who was the first to circumnavigate Australia and who charted a large portion of the country’s coastline. Flinders was born in Lincolnshire, the son of a ‘man-midwife’ and surgeon apothecary in the small town of Donington. His father intended him to follow in the same profession but Matthew had other ideas. He was determined to join the Navy and by perseverance and good luck he was able to do so. He was ambitious, and put himself forward whenever he saw an opportunity of doing so, most famously in writing to Sir Joseph Banks to offer to complete the charting of the Australian coasts begun by Captain James Cook. Determination, perseverance and ambition meant Flinders took risks, and luck was not always on his side. When things went badly for him, he responded with indignation but eventually recovered his equanimity and made the best of his situation, at the same time displaying a gift for warm friendship and a wry sense of humour. He was a devoted husband, a meticulous cartographer, and an expert navigator and leader, with a scientific mind and a romantic soul.
  • Item
    'No family, no wife, no friends, no infidelities': Wives Present and Absent in Naipaul's Autobiographical Fiction.
    (South Asian Review, 2015) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    V.S. Naipaul’s 1987 novel The Enigma of Arrival is set in the 1970s in the Wiltshire countryside where Naipaul lived with his wife for 10 years. In this novel, Naipaul has explicitly identified the narrator with his own ‘seeing eye, my feeling person’, while leaving out his personal relationships, and the narrator gives no hint of being married. In this paper I speculate on some possible structural and artistic reasons for this omission, and I read both this novel and some of Naipaul’s earlier fiction, including A House for Mr Biswas (1962), for implicit traces of his first wife and their marriage, contracted in 1955, which he explicitly excluded from this autobiographical novel.
  • Item
    Review of 'The Profilist: the notebooks of Ethan Dibble' by Adrian Mitchell.
    (Historical Society of South Australia, 2015) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Review of 'The Profilist: the notebooks of Ethan Dibble' by Adrian Mitchell. This is a novel based loosely on the life of colonial artist Samuel Thomas Gill.
  • Item
    Review of 'An Unsentimental Bloke: the life and work of C.J. Dennis' by Philip Butterss
    (Historical Society of South Australia, 2015) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Review of 'An Unsentimental Bloke: The lIfe and work of C.J. Dennis' by Philip Butterss (Wakefield Press, 2014).
  • Item
    Of Men and Music
    (Jane Austen's Regency World, 2015-09) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    A discussion of the relationship between music and Jane Austen's male characters.
  • Item
    'No moral effect on the mind': Music and education in Mansfield Park
    (Jane Austen Society (UK), 2014) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    A discussion of the way Austen uses music and musicianship in Mansfield Park to illuminate her characters, and the place of music in women's education.
  • Item
    Feste Ansichten in his own person: J.M. Coetzee speaks
    (Media Tropes, 2014) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Three recent books by J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello (2003), Diary of a Bad Year (2007), and Here and Now (2013), have included extensive expressions of opinion. The wide-ranging discussions in these books cover topics from political philosophy, language, animal rights, and paedophilia to music, food, and sport. There is substantial continuity in the opinions expressed, and the characters or personae expressing these views also have a good deal in common. Nevertheless, these opinions are expressed in three explicitly different personae. With each of these books the personae are progressively more closely identifiable with Coetzee himself. Elizabeth Costello, in the book of that name, is a character who crosses gender and national boundaries from her creator. JC in Diary of a Bad Year shares at least some biographical circumstances with Coetzee—land of birth, gender, initials, occupation, for example. Then, in Here and Now, we are presented with what purports transparently to be the author J.M. Coetzee’s own voice in correspondence with Paul Auster. How do I, as a reader and a critic, negotiate this progression? Just how much license does the apparently closer correspondence between author and writing persona give me to believe that I know what Coetzee ‘really’ thinks or believes?
  • Item
    'A Dozy City': Adelaide in J.M. Coetzee's Slow Man and Amy T. Matthews's End of the Night Girl
    (Adelaide University Press, 2013) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Since Salman Rushdie’s comments about Adelaide at Writers’ Week in 1984, the city has become notorious for being a place of bizarre murders and unexplained disappearances, and this impression has been encouraged by a number of books and films set in the city. Two recent novels, however, portray Adelaide in a different light. In J.M. Coetzee’s Slow Man, Adelaide is a slightly boring city with good medical facilities – a setting that I argue allows Coetzee to explore the questions that preoccupy him in his later novels, themes of ageing and mortality, away from the urgent political issues which cannot be ignored in novels set in such places as South Africa. Amy T. Matthews’ End of the Night Girl more explicitly contrasts the ordinary daily travails of an Adelaide woman with the horrific ordeals of a Holocaust victim. In this paper, I explore the use of Adelaide in these novels as a relatively safe and benign location where the problems experienced by characters are not those caused by political oppression, war or disaster, but are those common to all civilised societies, like ageing, relationship woes and social alienation
  • Item
    Every Reader is a Stranger: The Novels of Tabish Khair
    (Roman Books, 2013) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    A study of Tabish Khair's first two novels, 'The Bus Stopped' and 'Filming'
  • Item
    Looking Back in Anger: The Transformation of Childhood Memories in Two West Indian Novels.
    (Pencraft International, 2013) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Anger, for all its negative aspects, can provide creative urges which produce works of art of great power. The anger of the adult writer is often directed against the forces which tried to control and repress that writer as a child, so that the novel written in anger is frequently in essence, even if not in detail, autobiographical. Dickens' novels, for example, often deal with the child victim of industrialisation - dramatising again and again his own unhappy childhood. And another great feature of the European ascendancy, imperialism, spread conditions across the world which created more anger among the colonised peoples of the world. Ironically, however, the means to express this anger was also often provided to those who had the intelligence to use it. Perhaps it represents a triumph of western liberal education, over those who tried to use it as a weapon of oppression, that it could produce subtle and articulate writers like V.S. Naipaul and Jamaica Kincaid.
  • Item
    'You are my Australia': Brian Medlin's contribution to Iris Murdoch’s concept of Australia in The Green Knight
    (American Association of Australasian Literary Studies, 2011-12) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Australian radical and philosopher Brian Medlin met Iris Murdoch at Oxford in the early 1960s, and the correspondence between them, now held at Flinders University in South Australia, covers a period of more than twenty years. In his letters he regaled her with Australian jokes, travel stories and anecdotes, and answered her many questions about Australian flora and fauna, and language. While she was writing The Green Knight she was particularly keen to quiz him about the Australian vernacular to help her with the character of the publican Kenneth Rathbone. This paper traces the evolution of Murdoch’s concept of Australia from An Unofficial Rose to Jackson’s Dilemma, and in particular the way her portrayal of Australia in The Green Knight was influenced by her friendship with Medlin.
  • Item
    'Naipaul's Women Revisited'
    (South Asian Review, 2012-12) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    This article is a reconsideration of V.S. Naipaul’s attitude toward women, following from the author’s 2005 article “Naipaul’s Women.” Various recent statements Naipaul has made about female authors, including Diana Athill and Jane Austen, are examined in the light of his writings, both fact and fiction, about women in general and women writers in particular. Some consideration is also given to his relations with women in his personal life, including his sister and his wife. The final assessment is that Naipaul’s impatient “off the cuff” statements about women in interviews and at public events are not reflected in his nonfiction writings.]
  • Item
    Matthew Flinders Private Journal: A Private Journey
    (Wakefield Press, 2010) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Matthew Flinders began his Private Journal on the day his active career as an explorer and navigator finished, the day he was detained on Mauritius by Governor Decaen. He kept the journal almost daily until 9 days before his death. In this paper I will trace his inner journey - the ways he changed and developed over the decade covered by the journal, and how this is reflected in the Journal. During the six and a half years of detention on Mauritius he broadened his intellectual and cultural horizons considerably. He learned French, and read many classics of French literature and science. After some initial shyness in mixed society, he participated freely in the French plantation society of Mauritius and befriended French naval officers who were officially his enemies. With time on his hands, he undertook projects such as his biographical tribute to Trim, a study of the history of Madagascar, and observations on the marine barometer. By sheer force of will he conquered the black depression which threatened to engulf him as his detention extended indefinitely. Back in England, reunited with his wife after 9 years, he set to work on his major work, Voyage to Terra Australis, which he worked on practically without a break until his death in July 1814. Although in many ways the Private Journal shows Flinders mellowing and maturing as a result of his ordeals, he also lost much of the optimistic and adventurous spirit which spurred him on to the achievements for which he is famous.
  • Item
    'When Tired of Writing, I apply to Music': Music in Matthew Flinders' Life
    (Britannia Naval Research Association, 2011) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    An examination of music in the life and writings of Matthew Flinders, against the background of the place of music in the navy of the times.
  • Item
    Matters of Taste
    (Jane Austen’s Regency World, 2010-03) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    A discussion of aesthetics and morality in Sense and Sensibility.