Friday, January 11, 2008

Where is a Melbourne of the north?

The Age editorial (7/1/2008) advocated for Melbourne's position as the next UNESCO City of Literature by seeing that the city could be a mirror of the north:

In this respect, Melbourne has all the qualifications to be the Edinburgh of the south: our rich literary tradition, nourished by support from writers and readers but also from government and local government, sets the stage or builds the shelf (pick your metaphor) for this city to be a national and international centre for literature and all its offshoots.
Melbourne: city of literature and literacy - Editorial - Opinion -

This phrase 'x of the south' subscribes to a model of the world where the origins exist on the north, and it is left for those cities in the south like Melbourne to aspire to be like them.

I like Fergus Hume's citation, in the world's first detective novel, set in Melbourne.

Some writer has described Melbourne as Glasgow, with the sky of Alexandria; and certainly the beautiful climate of Australia, so Italian in its brightness, must have a great effect on the nature of such an adaptable race as the Anglo-Saxon… Climatic influence should be taken into account with regard to the future Australian, and our prosperity will be no more like us than the luxurious Venetians resembled their hardy forefathers, who first started to build on those lonely sandy islands of the Adriatic.
Fergus Hume The Mystery of a Hansom Cab Melbourne: Sun Books, 1971 (orig. 1886)

While Melbourne aspires alternatively to be a Glasgow or Edinburgh of the south, is there a town in Scotland that is one day hoping people will call it the 'Melbourne of the north'?


Paola said...

I agree completely with you.

india flint said...

let's go a step further and imagine Reykjavik wanting to be the Hobart of the North...i like this notion of turning the map upside down, and when i travel away across the equator i always like to establish my 'southpoint' as the vague but comforting direction of home...