The Life of Such is Life

A Cultural History of an Australian Classic

Roger Osborne

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Format: paperback
206 pages
ISBN: 9781743327692
Publication: 01 Mar 2022
Series: Sydney Studies in Australian Literature
Publisher: Sydney University Press

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Shortlisted for the AUHE Prize in Literary Scholarship 2022 Winner of the Walter McRae Russell Award 2023

Since its publication in 1903, Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life has become established as an Australian classic. But which version of the novel is the authoritative text, and what does its history reveal about Australian cultural life?

From Furphy’s handwritten manuscript through numerous editions, a controversial abridgement for the British market (condemned by A.D. Hope as a “mutilation”), and periods of obscurity and rediscovery, the text has been reshaped and repackaged by many hands. Furphy’s first editors at the Bulletin diluted his socialist message and “corrected” his Australian slang to create a more marketable book. Later, literary players including Vance and Nettie Palmer, Miles Franklin, Kate Baker and Angus & Robertson all took an interest in how Furphy’s work should be published.

In a fascinating piece of literary detective work, Osborne traces the book’s journey and shows how economic and cultural forces helped to shape the novel we read today.

Roger Osborne is Senior Lecturer in English and Writing at James Cook University, Cairns.

List of Figures

Introduction: Entangled in the Work

  1. Bushman and Bookworm: Furphy’s Literary Foundations
  2. Such is Life: From the Writer’s Sanctum to the Literary Marketplace
  3. Versions of Such is Life: Typescript and Book
  4. An Anabranch of Such is Life: Rigby’s Romance as Typescript, Serial and Book
  5. The Death of the Author: Kate Baker’s Such is Life
  6. Wartime Revival: Tom Collins in the 1940s
  7. Shaping the Canon: Joseph Furphy Goes to University

Epilogue: Where the (adj. sheol) is Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life?

Works Cited

"Osborne offers a cogent chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the major revisions, excisions, and textual transfers, and of their effects on the material condition of Such Is Life."
Brigid Magner   Australian Book Review

Format: paperback
Size: 254 × 178 × 14 mm
206 pages
b&w illustrations
Copyright: © 2022
ISBN: 9781743327692
Publication: 01 Mar 2022
Series: Sydney Studies in Australian Literature