Book entitled 'So, You Want To Be An Australian' by Cyril Pearl, published by Ure Smith Pty Ltd, Sydney in 1959. The book is illustrated with black and white cartoons by Les Tanner. It takes a humorous look at what it means to be an Australian, looking at population statistics, the 'Australian' language, attitudes towards women, food, alcohol, politics, art, employment and Australian icons such as Phar Lap.
The text is particularly directed towards advising recent migrant arrivals on understanding the local customs and assimilating successfully, although in actuality it is really the locally-born audience the author appears to be targetting. The style is reminiscent of 'They're a Weird Mob' by Nino Culotta [aka John O'Grady] published two years earlier in 1957.
Book with 96 pages and a hard, pale blue cover. Title appears on spine. Black and white printed text and line drawn cartoons.
This book provides an interesting satirical view of Australia and Australians, written at a particular time and informed by its social, cultural and political contexts. While offering a humorous guide for newly arrived migrants during the post-War migration boom, the author does gently critique policies and attitudes affecting migrants such as the Dictation Test [only removed by the new Migration Act in 1958], customs and quarantine, and attachment to Great Britain; as well as poking fun at the local eating habits, beer culture and politicians. The author also speaks at length about the place of Phar Lap both in the national psyche and in cultural institutions and applauds such Australian achievements as the eight-hour day, and 'do-it-yourself' culture.
The book's narratives simultaneously lampoon, celebrate and perpetuate stereotypes about Australian, particularly male, behaviours. Attempts to include Indigenous Australians in definitions of Australian society, even where well-meaning, would now be considered inappropriate, even offensive and demonstrate attitudes at the time which still dismissed First Peoples as an irrelevancy. The Preface is particularly revealing of image-making around Australians [Indigenous, locally-born and migrants alike] : 'All Australia is divided into three parts - Old Australians, Ordinary Australians and New Australians. Old Australians can never become Ordinary Australians because they are black and aren't allowed to drink beer. New Australians, if they read this book, can.'
Transfer from Immigration Museum, Museum Victoria, 26 Oct 2013
Book spine: 'So, you want to be an Australian Cyril Pearl Ure Smith' Frontispiece: 'So, you want to be/ an AUSTRALIAN/ by Cyril Pearl/ Illustrated by Tanner/ URE SMITH SYDNEY'
Type of item
Overall Dimensions - Closed
123 mm (Width), 7 mm (Depth), 190 mm (Height)