March 24th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Media ensure a comfy rise for Bill Shorten

CANBERRA OBSERVED Can Liberals' broad church survive schism?

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Middle-East time bomb: youth unemployment

ENVIRONMENT Europe's freeze further proof of global warming!

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cashless debit card records positive results

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals' Tasmanian victory: the implications

OPINION The height of absurdity: education as business

ECONOMICS AND CHINA Eyes averted from the dragon in the marketplace

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM The state attacking the Church: lessons from history

FAMILY POLITICS A Trojan horse for monitoring children

NORTH AMERICA The cultural and political mosaic that is Canada

CINEMA Mary Magdalene on film: a new interpretation

MUSIC Audio-visual: or, how to watch your music

CINEMA The Adventures of Tintin: A light amid the bleakness

BOOK REVIEW Taking arms against the gender fluid fad

BOOK REVIEW Narrative history from a great writer



Books promotion page


Peter Coleman


Buy Book

by Peter Coleman

(Ballarat, Victoria: Connor Court Publishing, new edn, 2015)
Paperback: 190 pages
ISBN: 9781925138269
Price: AUD$29.95


Book description

Part autobiography, part cultural history, some will read Memoirs of a Slow Learner as a comic anatomy of the corpse of Australian small-l liberalism. Others will see in it a journalistic record of the times. Yet others a moving personal statement. It is a unique departure in Australian autobiography.

Commenting on this new expanded edition of a book originally published in 1994, Coleman writes: “Looking back across 20 years I see more clearly than I did at the time that the real origin of Memoirs of a Slow Learner was my immersion in the poetry of James McAuley (my co-editor at Quadrant.) I had already written one response to his work and genius, The Heart of James McAuley (Connor Court). His autobiographical poems moved me deeply, especially his “Letter to John Dryden”. It distantly echoed a similar family background to mine (freethinking father, Protestant mother), a similar education in a secular state grammar school and Sydney University, infatuation with Marxism, mysticism and Christianity.

“But whereas McAuley found a resolution of his quest in the Catholic Church, I persevered with secular liberalism, in the belief that imagination and feeling could still moisten its parched landscape. Several writers published rejoinders to McAuley’s poem – Jack Lindsay, Amy Witting, A.D. Hope. Memoirs of a Slow Learner was mine. It could be called “A Letter to James McAuley”.

“In the years since I have come to accept many of McAuley’s criticisms of my liberal secularism – many but not all. I am now more sceptical of the freethinkers who influenced me in my youth, such as the philosopher John Anderson, and far less sceptical of church leaders who deplored their influence. The conversation continues.”


About the author

Peter Coleman (born 1928) is an Australian writer and former politician. He was editor of The Bulletin (1964–1967) and of Quadrant for 20 years, and has published 16 books on political, biographical and cultural subjects.

While still working as an editor and journalist he had a short but distinguished political career as a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1968–1978 for the Liberal Party of Australia, serving both as a Minister in the State Cabinet and, in the final year, as Leader of the New South Wales Opposition.

From 1981–1986 was Member for Wentworth in the Australian House of Representatives. In 2008 he was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) at the University of Sydney for services to Australian intellectual life.[

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