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Title: Bean's Anzac and the Making of the Anzac Legend
Contributor(s): Kent, David (author)
Publication Date: 1997
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Abstract: If asked to decide which was the more significant festival, 'Australia Day' or 'Anzac Day', the majority of Australians would ignore the ostensible national celebration for the commemoration of a bloody failure. The Anzac legend which developed around the deeds of Australian soldiers at Gallipoli and on the Western Front has long been a focal point of Australian nationalism.1 The 'Anzac' has become a cultural and literary stereotype enshrined in popular imagination as someone who was' tough and inventive, loyal to ... mates beyond the call of duty, a bit undisciplined ... chivalrous, gallant, sardonic'. 2 It is easy to see in the' Anzac' the idealized bushman of the 1890s translated to a military setting.3 The legend was shaped by much of the literature of the war but its origins are to be found in The Anzac Book. 4 Like all legends, it has great popular appeal and Australians do not readily tolerate any questioning of the value of the Anzac legend. The image of the Anzac which is central to the legend, was a careful and deliberate creation of C.E.W. Bean, whose role in the evolution of the Anzac legend and the accuracy of the image he imposed on the Australian public have provoked a vigorous debate amongst historians. 5 I suggest that Bean's portrayal of the Anzac reflected his predilection for hero-worship and his anxiety to salvage something from a grotesque failure. He acted as a prism through which the experience of Gallipoli was projected and distorted so that Australians were presented with an over-simplified view of the realities of war and its effect on men. Finally, I maintain that the immense sales and enormous popularity of The Anzac Book ensured that Bean's image of the' Anzac' became a model for Australians and the heart of the Anzac legend.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: War: Australia's Creative Response, p. 27-39
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Place of Publication: St Leonards, Australia
ISBN: 1871049180
Field of Research (FOR): 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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