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James McAuley (James Phillip McAuley) Biography

(1917–76), (James Phillip McAuley), Under Aldebaran, A Vision of Ceremony, Selected Poems, Collected Poems 1963–1970

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Australian poet and critic, born in Lakemba, New South Wales, educated at the University of Sydney. Wartime experience in New Guinea led to a series of distinguished articles in the 1940s and 1950s on that country's life and culture. His first verse collection, Under Aldebaran (1946), was followed by A Vision of Ceremony (1956), Selected Poems (1963), Collected Poems 1963–1970 (1971), Music Late at Night: Poems 1970–1973 (1976), and Time Given: Poems 1970–1974 (1976). An unswerving classicist in his poetic practice, McAuley's disdain of certain modernist practices led to his perpetration, with fellow writer Harold Stewart, of the now-legendary ‘Ern Malley Hoax’; their jointly concocted ‘poem’ was duly published by the radical and modernist journal Angry Penguins. The event did little to advance the cause of modernism in Australia, while some of ‘Ern Malley's’ lines have lived to haunt Australian culture. McAuley's most evocative work is Captain Quiros (1964), which recreates the search of the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros for the Great South Land. The poem fitted with other explorer-centred writings of the period. As an editor and critic, his chief volumes are The End of Modernity (1959), The Personal Element in Australian Poetry (1970), and The Grammar of the Real (1975).

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