By Andrew McCann
A serious research of Marcus Clarke - arguably Australia's most sensible recognized and most crucial nineteenth-century author. It situates Clarke either in the bohemian tradition of Melbourne and a burgeoning cosmopolitan print-culture extending past nationwide borders. It additionally reveals the richness of Clarke's writing.
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Additional info for Marcus Clarke’s bohemia : literature and modernity in colonial Melbourne
The city spaces that Clarke explores, however, are also full of activity, such that in the 46 Marcus Clarke’s Bohemia movement of any particular piece of journalistic prose a familiar street or cityscape can transform itself into something more alien and threatening. Familiar cityscapes, Collins and Bourke Streets for instance, are often represented as a series of heterogeneous bodies and nonsynchronised movements of people such that, as night falls, the sinister, threatening world of the ‘social Arab’ can reappear in the most public parts of the city.
The word raises an ambiguity that is central to the affect of Clarke’s journalism. In the nineteenth century, phantasmagoria referred both to images generated by the imagination and to those generated by the spectacular and increasingly mechanised forms of popular culture that developed out of devices like the magic lantern. It was frequently used to mark the undecidable relationship between these. Phantasmagoria suggests, in other words, the point at which the autonomy of the imagination as it is expressed in the subject’s psychic life—in dreams, fantasies and the kind of poetry associated with the Romantic movement—is itself mediated by forms of popular culture associated with a developing market for urban entertainment.
The Theatre Royal concentrates this sense. It is a site at which cultural and sexual commerce become confused and at which the promise of Bohemia is compromised by its subsequent elision of harsh and exploitative social realities. We can be fairly sure that the reality of the Yorick Club didn’t quite live up to the images of Bohemian revelry and romance associated with it either. The club began as an informal gathering at Nissen’s Café, but due to the stolid nature of the regular patrons Clarke, Bohemia and the Dream-life of the Colonial City 35 Haddon and Shillinglaw decided to rent a room in the offices of Melbourne Punch at 74 Collins Street, next to the Argus office.