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Title: Judith Wright: Those 'Aunts in the Close' and the 'Remittance Man'
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S  (author)
Publication Date: 1974
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: In her early poem 'Remittance Man' (included in her first collection, 'The Moving Image', 1946), Judith Wright causes her hero to recall one aspect of the life left behind in England, his formal and respectable relatives-- "The spendthrift, disinherited and graceless, accepted his pittance with an easy air, only surprised he could escape so simply from the pheasant-shooting and the aunts in the close;" (11.1-4). From there on the poem is largely concerned with Australia, apart from glances back to 'the country ball' (1.16), 'the nursery window' (1.19) and 'the squire his brother' (1.22), who vaguely regrets the reported passing of his younger brother. Most readers of the poem have felt the phrase 'the aunts in the close' to be vaguely felicitous, but have left the association there. Students of idiom in the language have found the phrase euphonic, either formal and Trollopean, or analagous to such allocations as 'bats in the belfry' or the more recent Australian title 'Aunts up the Cross' (1965), used by Robin Eakin to refer to her aunts and uncles of two earlier generations, whose splendid eccentricities enlightened both the writer's growing-up and the general scene, as Sydney's bohemian quarter, King's Cross, endeavoured to adapt to World War II and to its social aftermath. However, the actual phrase used by Judith Wright may be shown to not merely sound appropriate to somnolent respectability in some English Cathedral city, but to have for her both a legendary ring and a place in the 19th-Century history of her family and in its surviving documents? These last were long familiar to the young girl before she became the writer chronicling in verse and prose the uneasy change from the sensibility of the Old World to that of the New for various of her forebears, and particularly her great-great-grandfather, George Wyndham (1801-1870).
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Westerly (4), p. 65-69
Publisher: University of Western Australia
Place of Publication: Perth, Australia
ISSN: 0043-342X
Field of Research (FOR): 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations
190199 Art Theory and Criticism not elsewhere classified
190402 Creative Writing (incl Playwriting)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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