… a remarkable range of essays reflecting an independence of view
and a grace of style rare in Australian letters.
The Australian Encyclopedia on Peter Ryan’s literary career
It Strikes Me: Collected Essays 1994–2010
(Quadrant Books, 2011) $44.95 Hb
Peter Ryan has long been one of Australia’s favourite writers of essays and newspaper columns. His classic World War II memoir, Fear Drive My Feet, has been an enduring bestseller, in print almost continuously for more than fifty years. The fifty-five essays in this collection may justly be called “a late picking”. They range from several moving reflections on the war against Japan in 1941–45 to tales of domestic and farm life, such as the story of his old saddle pony Bonny. Along the way he recalls books, writers and statesmen from whom he has learnt most.
For the last eighteen years, an important part of my life has been the writing of a “column” for Quadrant, and over 150 of these essays have appeared in the magazine’s back pages; never an issue missed. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines “column” (definition 4) as “a regular section of … a magazine on a particular subject or by a particular person”. One can’t complain about acceptance as a person who is “particular”. Quadrant’s courageous and broadminded editors have applied to me no constraints to a “particular subject”, but have let me range the world, as I have freely done