On The Cultural Cringe
The Australian writer, critic and teacher A.A. Phillips coined the term 'the cultural cringe' in 1950 to describe an Australian tendency to identify our literature and art as inferior to work produced overseas, particularly in Britain and the United States. The term has resonated in debates about Australian culture, society and identity ever since.
Although Phillips' famous essay on the cringe was first published more than fifty years ago, it remains a powerful reference point in discussions of the national culture. It is reprinted here with two of his other essays on Australian culture, and with additional biographical and critical material, including an essay by Ivor Indyk.