The Literary Influence of Academies

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Sydney University Press for the Australian Academy of the Humanities, 1970 - Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.) - 13 pages

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About the author (1970)

One of the best-known Australian poets outside his own country, A. D. Hope did not publish his first book of poetry until he was nearly 50. Born in New South Wales, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Hope attended school and college in Australia, then did graduate work at Oxford. On his return to Australia, in the midst of the Depression, he taught in high school and in universities, becoming professor of English at Australian National University in 1951. He exhibits in his work qualities alien to most Australian poetry, for he rarely writes about the landscape, the people, and the day-to-day concerns of his native country. Instead, his poems rely on world mythology, found in sources as diverse as the Bible, the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, the Italian Renaissance, and the Elizabethan period. His work reveals an obsession with the individual's capacity to rise above the mundane. It is "the poet's trade," Hope wrote in one of his poems, to remake and reshape world myths to help modern humankind validate its existence rather than sink into cynicism. It has been said that he considers the poet's work as "sacred." The poetry, coming out of what turned into a lengthy poetic career in spite of its late beginning, is immensely sophisticated, erudite, witty, cosmopolitan, and highly literary in nature. Long a vocal enemy of free verse and lyricism, Hope has always written in formal structure. He has published, in addition to his 12 books of poetry, 2 verse plays and 7 incisive books of criticism, ranging in subject matter from poetic theory to D. H. Lawrence to Beowulf. Even though he has often been accused of being un-Australian in his poetry, Hope has been a tireless champion of the country's literature; it is the subject of much of his critical writing, which has contributed immeasurably to the development of Australian literary criticism.

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