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W.E.H. Stanner's words changed Australia. Without condescension and without sentimentality, in essays such as “The Dreaming” Stanner conveyed the richness and uniqueness of Aboriginal culture. In his Boyer Lectures he exposed a ‘cult of forgetfulness practised on a national scale,’ regarding the fate of the Aborigines, for which he coined the phrase ‘the great Australian silence’. And in his essay “Durmugam” he provided an unforgettable portrait of a warrior's attempt to hold back cultural change. ‘He was such a man,’ Stanner wrote. ‘I thought I would like to make the reading world see and feel him as I did.’

The pieces collected here span the career of W.E.H. Stanner as well as the history of Australian race relations. They reveal the extraordinary scholarship, humanity and vision of one of Australia's finest essayists. Their revival is a significant event.

With an introductory essay by Robert Manne.

‘Bill Stanner was a superb essayist with a wonderful turn of phrase and ever fresh prose. He always had important things to say, which have not lost their relevance. It is wonderful that they will now be available to a new and larger audience.’ —Henry Reynolds

‘Stanner's essays still hold their own among this country's finest writings on matters black and white.’ —Noel Pearson

‘The most literate and persuasive of all contributions to Australia’s indigenous people.’ —Marcia Langton

‘The most clear-headed, compelling and sensitive portraits of indigenous Australians ever written’ —Canberra Times

‘A masterpiece’ —Good Reading

‘Astute, nuanced and evocative’ —Advertiser

William Edward Hanley Stanner was born in Sydney in 1905. Stanner helped to shape the growth of Australian anthropology, and his principal interest was the peoples of Daly River and Port Keats in the Northern Territory.

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