Noel Rowe was a poet, critic, editor and Senior Lecturer in Australian Literature at the University of Sydney. He was both a brilliant scholar and an outstanding teacher.
In this collection of essays Rowe demonstrates his deep understanding of Australian literature and its complex and ongoing dialogue with questions of theology and ethics. Rowe reads, and shows us how to read, the poetry of some of Australia's greatest poets - Vincent Buckley, James McAuley, Judith Wright, Rosemary Dobson, Vivian Smith, Francis Webb and Les Murray. He explores the narrative strategies and concerns of writers as diverse as Helen Garner, Patrick White and Hal Porter. This collection spans a fifty-year period of Australian writing. The final essay, 'Sacrificing Grace: Christos Tsiolkas's Dead Europe' is a 9,000 word tour de force: a richly layered, multi-dimensional reading of Tsiolkas's confronting and challenging novel.
Noel Rowe died on July 11, 2007. He was fifty-six years old. As evidenced by the criticism and the poetry he was writing in his last years he was approaching the peak of his creative powers. I put this collection together after his death as a work of love and as a gift to future generations of readers and scholars of Australian literature.