Monday musings on Australian literature: Project Gutenberg Australia

I don’t imagine Project Gutenberg needs any introduction to bloggers and blog readers, but I’m not sure how many are aware of the Australian sister site, Project Gutenberg Australia. This site is not formally connected with the original Project Gutenberg but, like the original, it provides access to international texts that are in public domain – specifically, in public domain in Australia. This means you’ll find George Orwell‘s Animal farm here, F Scott Fitzgerald’s The great Gatsby, and so on. But, due to different copyright legislations (prior to the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement), it also means that you’ll find some texts not yet available via Project Gutenberg, such as Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the wind,.

However, Project Gutenberg Australia’s main value is that it provides an entrée to Australian material, through various pages (sections) which organise the content by subject/type. One of these sections is the Library of Australiana containing:

ebooks by Australian writers, or books about Australia. There is a diverse range; from the journals of the land and sea explorers; to the early accounts of white settlement in Australia; to the fiction of ‘Banjo’ Paterson, Henry Lawson and many other Australian writers.

It is an excellent resource.  Some of the explorers whose journals are available include Gregory Blaxland (who, with Wentworth and Lawson, found a way over the mountains west of Sydney in 1813), William Bligh (famous, or is it infamous, for the Mutiny on the Bounty), and James Cook (who claimed our Great South Land for England back in 1770).

But, my main reason for writing this post today is that for readers here who find it hard to locate classic Australian fiction it’s a treasure trove. Some of the writers and works available are:

Coastal view south of Bermagui

South of Bermagui

The Library of Australiana also includes books by foreign authors but set in Australia, such as DH Lawrence‘s Kangaroo. Lawrence completed this novel while living in Thirroul, on the south coast of New South Wales. This is the coast nearest to my inland city, so I’ll conclude with an excerpt from another foreign writer on this coast, Zane Grey:  

It seems, as the years go by, that every camp I pitch in places far from home grows more beautiful and romantic. The setting of the one at Bermagui bore this out in the extreme. From the village a gradual ascent up a green wooded slope led to a jutting promontory that opened out above the sea. The bluff was bold and precipitous. A ragged rock-bound shoreline was never quiet. At all times I seemed aware of the insatiate crawling sea. The waves broke with a thundering crash and roar, and the swells roared to seething ruin upon the rocks. Looking north across a wide blue bay, we could see a long white beach. And behind it dense green forest, “bush,” leading to a bold mountain range, and the dim calling purple of interior Australia. (American angler in Australia)

Grey captures perfectly the reason I, whose preference is for mountains over coasts and who has no interest in fishing, love the south coast. It’s beautiful. And so is Project Gutenberg Australia (in function, if not in look!). Try it next time you are looking for something Australian that is in public domain. There’s a good chance you’ll find it.

23 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Project Gutenberg Australia

  1. I think you’re taunting me with that Gone with the Wind reference. Do you really want to go through the utterly-miserable-and-depressed-12-year-old-daughter experience again?

    • Thanks John!

      I liked it too … and then he apparently went up to Bateman’s Bay and thought it was even more beautiful! Not sure where he went then but presumably it was better again!

    • Hi Lisa … no, I don’t really know. I did a bit of a search and it’s not really clear. The Project Gutenberg people list a few “sister” sites and Project Gutenberg Australian and PG Canada are there. They list “affiliates” which include Librivox. But my brief checking didn’t really find an explanation. There must have been some agreement from PG that they could use the name but I’m assuming it means that there’s no overall management, they way Wikipedia has across the various versions and sites.

  2. I fell in love with Gutenberg Australia about a year ago, when I discovered (as you point out) that I could download some classics not yet in the public domain in America. I didn’t know they had the sections about Australian lit, though. Thanks for linking – I’m on the Australiana page now and looking forward to finding some good books to download.

    • Well then, I have achieved my goal! Do check out Ada Cambridge … there are others I’d recommend (and others I still want to read – including Barbara Baynton) but Cambridge is worth giving a go.

      BTW The issue re some books being available on PGA and not on PG does rather make the point re the need for international copyright in our global world doesn’t it!!

    • Ah interesting … is that not yet available at PG either? I’ll be reviewing, from my Kindle version, his The good soldier soon-ish.

      As for time … yes, it’s great finding more and more sources for literature but what we really want to do is find more TIME don’t we!

  3. I didn’t know Zane Grey visited these shores. In my early teenage years I loved Zane Grey’s westerns. I had a thing for bloodthirsty red Indian tales.

    • The things you learn! Yes, he was a bit of an adventurer around the world – and now you can go read all about it at PGA! I haven’t read any of his works but his Riders of the purple sage (I think that’s the title) has been in my sights for a while. Did you read that one? I think I came across mention of it when we were travelling in the American southwest.

    • What a shame Becky … I’ve never heard of Stanza … Have you heard of Calibre? It’s software which converts ebook formats to other formats. I think it might work for Stanza?? But I’m out of my depth here and maybe you already know this and it doesn’t work in your situation.

  4. Spirit of the Border was my favourite of Zane Grey. Can’t remember a thing about it, and almost don’t dare seek it out in case it disappoints.

    • I can understand that … sometimes its best to leave youthful passions alone. I discovered that with Neville Shute. A rereading of On the beach a few years ago left me a little sad.

  5. Thanks for the info, wg! I’ve been a user of Project G. but don’t know about this Australian branch until now. Coincidentally, I found in our public library’s website today that I can ‘borrow’ (download) eBooks to my laptop, so I really don’t need an eReader to read all the books available in the library. The software is Adobe Digital Editions, free download of that too and with it, samples of a few free eBooks, some classics, some contemporary.

    • That’s great to hear … libraries are really getting on board with this new digital age. Must say though that for me it is a more pleasant experience to read an eBook on my Kindle than on my laptop. The Kindle is manageable like a book but the diverse ways in which people can now access books is a great boon isn’t it?

  6. Pingback: CIS 471: A “post Gutenberg” e-text for biology 101 « Ye Olde Soapbox

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