The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

YOUR ar­ti­cle about Kate Grenville (‘‘ Past Im­per­fect’’, Re­view , Septem­ber 20- 21) says William Dawes’s note­books have been found ‘‘ quite re­cently’’. Dawes’s note­books have been known since at least Jake­lin Troy’s ground­break­ing re­search on lin­guis­tic ex­change in the early colony, which was pub­lished more than a quar­ter- cen­tury ago. Ten years later, Keith Vin­cent Smith re­ferred to Dawes’s note­books and Troy’s pub­li­ca­tions in his 2001 book on Ben­ne­long. Tellingly, Inga Clendin­nen, the only his­to­rian cited by jour­nal­ist Rose­mary Sorensen, does not ref­er­ence ei­ther text in her Danc­ing with Strangers. It is tir­ing to see jour­nal­ism am­pli­fy­ing mis­con­cep­tions about the qual­ity and ex­tent of Aus­tralian his­tor­i­cal re­search. Anette Bre­mer Surry Hills, NSW I DON’T know what books Rose­mary Neill has been read­ing (‘‘ Analysing their dark ma­te­ri­als’’, Re­view , Septem­ber 20- 21), but there must be a bit of the- blind- men- and- theele­phant syn­drome at work in young adult and chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. Re­quiem for a Beast may well be very dark, but it is also ter­ri­bly mov­ing and thought- pro­vok­ingly beau­ti­ful; Marty’s Shadow may con­tain a near- sui­cide scene, but I read it as a novel about the re­demp­tive power of love; and I would far rather my 11- year- old daugh­ter read Mor­ris Gleitz­man’s Then than watch Neigh­bours. If there is a sker­rick of ev­i­dence that teenagers have been trau­ma­tised by read­ing so- called gritty young adult books — which, af­ter all, can so eas­ily be put down — I’d like to see it. Ju­lia Lawrin­son Perth

Kate Grenville LIKE Greg Sheri­dan (‘‘ Cus­to­di­ans of high cul­ture, Re­view, Septem­ber 20- 21), I at­tend the Aus­tralian Cham­ber Or­ches­tra’s con­certs from time to time. The other cus­to­di­ans of our mu­si­cal cul­ture I see, along with women, are the Chi­nese. Some­times they are there as par­ents tak­ing a young bud­ding mu­si­cian along, and you see the lit­tle fin­gers play­ing along; ob­vi­ously the child knows the piece. Far­ther afield, West­ern clas­si­cal mu­sic is con­sumed vo­ra­ciously in China. Re­cently I was in Shang­hai at the same time as Ger­man vi­o­lin­ist Ann- So­phie Mut­ter. Her recitals were sold out within min­utes of go­ing on sale. I sus­pect in any given year more big- name or­ches­tras and mu­si­cians go to Bei­jing and Shang­hai than to Mel­bourne or Syd­ney. The or­ches­tras in that part of the world are pretty good, too; the Malaysian and Sin­ga­porean bands are well worth a lis­ten. The age of mu­sic audiences is wor­ry­ing, but I think the is­sue is not au­di­ence age per se but if the au­di­ence age is in­creas­ing from year to year. Clas­si­cal mu­sic is for grown- ups, not for hor­mone- ad­dled kids. If it’s some­thing you have to grow into, so what? I be­lieve Opera Aus­tralia has done some re­search on this and the au­di­ence age, while not young, is not in­creas­ing. Still, I do take my chil­dren from time to time and it would be nice for them to feel a bit less out of place. David Martin Syd­ney

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