The Getting of Wisdom

Front Cover
Univ. of Queensland Press, 2001 - Philosophy - 282 pages
27 Reviews
The subject of this book is a young woman: an awkward, insecure, restless and 'knowing' child who learns that self-realisation depends on rebellion and escape, but that the latter will first demand at least the semblance of conformity. In telling lies, Laura learns both the astonishing allure of fiction and the social costs of stepping beyond the bounds of propriety, gender, class, and family ties.
The novel is only in part a fictionalised account of Richardson's school years at the Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, where (unlike her fictional counterpart) she was not only academically successful but also an outstanding student of music. Unusual for stories of school-life, The Getting of Wisdom was clearly aimed at a mature readership able to understand irony and a critique of the colonial educational provision of its day, including a determination to preserve sexual ignorance in young women.
  

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Review: The Getting of Wisdom

User Review  - Angela - Goodreads

Well-written and sometimes almost painful to read. A sensitive portrayal of a young girl growing up in difficult times and placed in a difficult situation. Read full review

Review: The Getting of Wisdom

User Review  - Haylee Cullen - Goodreads

Nice, easy but absorbing read. Probably suited for a younger audience. Classic Bildungsroman tale set in not too distant Australian past Read full review

Contents

General Editors Foreword
vii
List of Abbreviations
xviii
THE GETTING OF WISDOM
lii
Note on the Text
2
Explanatory Notes
232
Table of Variants in TSi and Nietzsche Epigraphs
266
EndofLine Hyphenations
281
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

An expatriate writer, Henry Handel Richardson wrote one of Australia's classic works, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (1917--1929). The three novels that make up this trilogy, Australia Felix (1917), The Way Home (1925), and Ultima Thule (1929), unfold the saga of Richard Mahony, a character loosely based on Richardson's physician-father. The trilogy is often labeled---not always in a complimentary manner---as "naturalistic," a literary form not currently popular. In recent years, however, readers have begun to approach it in different ways. For example, feminist critics have called attention to the novels' strong women, who provide the strength for the new nation. The trilogy has also been examined as an incisive psychological study of failure revealed through the complex character of Mahony. The novels are so rich in texture that they can also be read as late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century social history, depicting as they do day-to-day life in the goldmining town of Balaraat and the colonial city of Melbourne. Richardson was born in Melbourne, but after her father's death her nearly destitute mother took up the duties of postmistress in a country town. At the age of 13, Richardson became a boarder at the Presbyterian Ladies' College in Melbourne. The experiences there she later used as the basis for The Getting of Wisdom (1910), which was turned into a highly successful film that helped to revive interest in Richardson's work. After graduating from this preparatory school, she received a musical scholarship to provide for further training in Leipzig; her mother had hopes of a career for her daughter as a concert pianist. Later Richardson would use her experiences in Germany as the basis of her first novel, Maurice Guest (1908). Instead of pursuing a concert career, however, Richardson married a Scottish professor of German and settled in London, remaining there and in the English countryside until her death. She returned to Australia only once or twice after her departure as a young girl; but in her imagination she must have gone back many times. In recognition of her literary achievements, Richardson was awarded the Australian Gold Medal and the King George Jubilee Medal.

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