“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





20 April 2010


research and text by PHILIP WHITE ... click on flag for its history

AUSTRALIA comes from the Greek αυδτηος, through the Latin austerus, which means severe, and gave itself to the Middle English auster, or austere, meaning the south wind and its source. By 1541, austere was also used to mean sour, or bitter and astringent, and harsh to the taste. This gradually came to cover anything that was harsh to the feelings generally; stern; rigorous; judicially severe; grim in warfare; severe in self-discipline; strict and abstinent. In 1597 it meant severely simple; without any luxury. By 1667 austere also meant grave and sober. The Latin austeritas became the Old French austerite, which, by 1590, as the English austerity, meant severe self-discipline, abstinence and asceticism. In 1634 austerity also meant harsh to the taste, or astringent sourness. This soon also covered general harshness to the feelings; judicial severity, or stern or severe treatment or demeanour. By 1713 it meant rugged sternness, and by 1875 austerity also meant severe simplicity or lack of luxury. The Latin australis became austral by the time of Middle English, and was used to indicate something that was belonging to the south. Or was southern. It also came not only to mean influenced by the south wind, but also warm and moist. This Latin australis gave its name to the great continent rumoured to lie in the south, Terra Australis. The French were the first to use Australien, meaning of Terra Australis. By 1693, the English language included the word Australian, also meaning of Terra Australis. The Terra was leaving Australis by 1814, in which time the English-speaking world had begun to use Captain Matthew Flinders’ suggested name for this huge southern beach-fringed slab of sand, dust, and stone, Australia. Now. About those original inhabitants …

Salman Rushdie
writes about his visit to Writers' Week in Adelaide in the Tatler, London, October 1984:

‘Don’t you find,’ Angela Carter said one evening, ‘that there’s something a little exhausted about the place names around here? I mean, Mount Lofty. Windy Point.’ On another occasion, Bruce Chatwin said something similar: ‘It’s a tired country, not young at all. It tires its inhabitants. It’s too ancient, too old.’



Woody said...

"What's the similarity between a 70 year old woman and Australia?". To which the reply came.
"Everybody knows it is down there, but nobody cares."

ocker Bob said...

You should get back to making wood, peckerhead. Australia rocks. And dusts. And blazes. And waves. And we love it, austerity and everything. Stay away! But if you change your mind, we'd handle that, too. Easy come, easy go. And vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Well said ocker Bob!! Well said.