The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

BA­BETTE Smith is en­gag­ing on our con­vict her­itage (‘‘ Safe har­bour’’, Jan­uary 24-25). But, like so many be­fore her, she makes too much of it. My state, South Aus­tralia, knew no con­victs, and yet its life and lan­guage are no less ‘‘ Aus­tralian’’ for that. What ‘‘ tra­di­tion’’ we Aus­tralians have is surely the re­sult of many in­puts that over­laid the con­vict ex­pe­ri­ence: the free set­tlers, young and am­bi­tious; the enor­mous im­mi­gra­tion brought on by gold dis­cov­er­ies ( young men, again, from ev­ery­where and im­bued with con­tem­po­rary rad­i­cal­ism); the steady in­flow of fam­ily mi­grants from Bri­tain af­ter that. Even the al­leged ‘‘ dig­ger’’ cul­ture of WWI is a long way from Botany Bay. In­ter­est­ingly, a large pro­por­tion of the first re­cruits to the AIF were re­cent Bri­tish im­mi­grants. Trac­ing na­tional cul­tures is a par­lour game. Every­one can play, but how do you know the win­ner? Edgar Cas­tle Tungkillo, South Aus­tralia IT’S a shame Graeme Blundell doesn’t ex­plain why the US ver­sion of the Life on Mars tele­vi­sion se­ries ‘‘ is more meta­phys­i­cal, its spook­i­ness stranger’’, than the BBC orig­i­nal (‘‘ Time out of mind’’, Jan­uary 31-Fe­bru­ary 1). He says it fo­cuses on the ‘‘ frag­ile no­tion of what is real’’, but so did the BBC se­ries. We were also left with the im­pres­sion that Blundell was mostly un­fa­mil­iar with the first se­ries. Oth­er­wise, why didn’t he sub­stan­ti­ate his claims with com­par­isons be­tween the two or an­swer the ob­vi­ous ques­tions: As bril­liant as Har­vey Kei­tel may be, is his Gene Hunt bet­ter than the loud-mouthed yet en­dear­ing char­ac­ter played by Philip Glenis­ter in the BBC pro­duc­tion? Has the US ver­sion added any­thing sub­stan­tial to an al­ready clever and well-pro­duced show, or just adapted a Bri­tish idea to pass it off as Amer­i­can in­stead? What next: an Amer­i­can Doc­tor Who? Louise Hil­ton Gidge­gan­nup, West­ern Aus­tralia Con­vict woman 1837 BRUCE Allen’s en­joy­able ex­plo­ration of the par­al­lels be­tween US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and the Ro­man em­peror Hadrian (‘‘ On Obama and Hadrian’’, Jan­uary 31-Fe­bru­ary 1) omit­ted one prom­i­nent as­pect of Hadrian’s reign that al­most cer­tainly won’t be re­peated by Obama: the de­ifi­ca­tion of his boyfriend. The grief­stricken em­peror pro­claimed his com­pan­ion Anti­nous a god af­ter the hand­some Greek youth drowned in the Nile. All over the em­pire, Hadrian erected stat­ues and founded cities in Anti­nous’s hon­our. Matthew Gibbs Le­ich­hardt, NSW IN his Fo­rum col­umn Peter Craven sug­gested some en­dur­ing clas­sics of Aus­tralian lit­er­a­ture from the past 30 years or so (‘‘ On Aus­tralian clas­sics’’, Jan­uary 24-25). Lists like this are al­ways be dif­fi­cult to com­pile but I thought one glar­ing omis­sion from his list was Sally Mor­gan’s My Place . And var­i­ous ti­tles by Rai­mond Gaita, Rhyll McMaster, Ruth Park, Mandy Sayer and Tim Win­ton wouldn’t be out of place ei­ther. Geri Bad­ham Wara­manga, ACT

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