When she was at school in England, approaching the end of year 11, one of her teachers put it to her that, if she worked really hard, she could perhaps gain entry to Oxford University. A brief reprieve comes when her genteel grandmother writes and asks her mother to send her to Caddagat, the childhood home of her mother, and she gets a taste of the higher life she has longed for a world of reading, leisure, and a sympathetic. Consequently, the novel was taken as autobiographical a (factual) story of a girls life and not the ironic fiction that Franklin intended. But recent studies of 19th century Australian readers and library borrowers suggest that such readers were not so divided by gender (girlishly romantic versus bush boy adventure) as we might think now. She includes Byron, Thackeray and Dickens with Gordon, Paterson and Lawson. Contemporary teenagers stuck in the country now, however remote, have more access to the world than Sybylla could hope to have. However, in the novel, or around it, Sybylla really does write her own preface; she is writing a book (another book) in the novel, and she addresses someone, who seems like a reader, in her closing words.
The reason the novel is in print, and you are reading it now, has a lot to do with its adoption in the late 1970s by the feminist movement of that period. My Brilliant Career can be read as a kind of response to the story, or writing, of the grandmother, or at least the sort of romance plot represented by the grandmother Australian (and perhaps British) women romance writers such as Ada Cambridge. Sybyllas Introduction warns: There is no plot in this story, because there has been none penelope as Moral Agent in my life or in any other life which has come under my notice. He finds Franklins My Brilliant Career true to Australia, with a clear vision of reality and a scorn of pretense, and advises. Perhaps we will all read this novel differently, but how wonderful to have Sybylla back among us, and Franklin, too, reminding us not just of the changes but of how much waste, pain and courage went into the battle. My ineffective life will be trod out in the same round of toil- I am only one of yourselves, I am only an unnecessary, little, bush commoner, I am only a- woman! When Sybylla longs for books at the MSwats, she is offered access to the only books in the house, apart from the unopened Bible and the local newspaper: Pas diaries. Sybylla relates that she was born in this house and that her earliest and fondest memories lie within. Her fate is such that the parents of uncomely female infants should be compelled to put them to death at their birth.
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