A hard hitting published review of 'The Devil and James McAuley' listing many errors of fact.
James Phillip McAuley was born in 1917 and died in his prime in 1976. He attended Fort Street Boys High School in Sydney and went on to become one of the many significant talents that were nurtured there. At the University of Sydney he was the outstanding intellectual figure of his generation, distinguishing himself as a conversationalist, poet, jazz pianist, drinker, and bohemian. Strangely, he did not top the honours list and missed out on a travelling scholarship to Britain. Instead he became a school teacher until he was recruited into the mysterious wartime research unit convened by Alf Conlon. Fellow poet Harold Stewart was a colleague in the unit and together they produced the 'Ern Malley' poems during a wet weekend in barracks. McAuley's work in the research unit took him to New Guinea where the drama of impending decolonisation aggravated his mood of spiritual and intellectual turmoil. After the war he worked out his professional and intellectual concerns in the Australian School of Pacific Studies, and joined the Roman Catholic church in 1953.
One of his early poems, Envoi, conveys an unsentimental sense of place and provides a hint of his lingering need for some kind of spiritual consolation which he eventually discovered in the church.
And I am fitted to that land as the soul is to the body,
I know its contradictions, waste, and sprawling indolence;
They are in me and its triumphs are my own,
Hard-won in the thin and bitter years without pretence.
All the while he continued his career as a poet and in 1956 combined his interest in public affairs and art when he became the first editor of Quadrant, the Australian organ of the anti-communist Association for Cultural Freedom. His poetry continued to develop when he moved back into academia at the University of Tasmania and it is likely that his best work was to come when he died after a lingering illness at the age of 59.
Large extracts from Michael Ackland's book 'Damaged Men' on the lives and work of James McAuley and Harold Stewart, his partner in the Ern Malley hoax.
A paper by Peter Coleman delivered at a seminar on James McAuley at the University of Sydney in 2002. It describes how McAuley set the course of the new Australian magazine, Quadrant, in 1955, in his capacity as founding editor.
Another piece from the Adelaide Review, of the same biography, noting the strange failure on the part of the author to notice the activities of communists around the world which provided an honourable reason for the resistance by McAuley and others.
An account, by Peter Coleman, of the development of McAuley's poetry in parallel with the changes in his political views, from the anarchism of his youth through his conversion to the Roman Catholic faith and his public involvement in the resistance to communism.