April 2012

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Gough Whitlam & Enoch Powell

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

At the 1938 ceremony for the conferring of degrees in the Faculties of Arts and Law at the University of Sydney, the address was given by the newly appointed professor of Greek, Enoch Powell.

Although only 25, Powell came very well credentialled. The only son of ambitious schoolteacher parents, he was reading Ancient Greek by the age of five. An absolute swot, he’d gone on to master Platonic and Ionic, win a fellowship at Cambridge on the strength of his Thucydides, score a double-starred first in Latin and Greek and grow a moustache so as to convey an impression of his hero, Nietzsche.

The young professor’s students at Sydney included a 21-year-old graduate of Canberra Grammar named Gough Whitlam. Popular and outgoing, Gough was a flagrant classicist with an urge to burnish his erudition. But he also revelled in the social life of the university. The busy whirl of reviews, magazines and debates left him with little patience for the “dry as dust” lectures of a teacher “just out of nappies”, who was so pedantic he could make Herodotus sound boring, and so uncomfortable in the presence of women that he could scarcely look at them. Whitlam called him a “textual pervert” and dropped out of his classes.

For his part, Enoch rather liked teaching: “One gets into a didactic mode.” He assuaged the “heartache of exile” by producing a lexicon and dreaming of death in battle. Firmly anti-appeasement, he believed that war was inevitable and imminent and he was keen to do his bit. In June 1939, he resigned and returned to England.

Failing to die in the war, he decided on a political career and became the Conservative member for Wolverhampton. In a 1968 address to his constituents, he made an allusion to Virgil. Like the Roman, he foresaw “the River Tiber foaming with much blood” if coloured immigration was not curtailed. The Race Relations Act would give the black man the “whip hand” over the white man. Known forever after as the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, it got him sacked from the shadow cabinet and made him an instant martyr and arguably the most popular politician in the UK.

Powell returned to Australia in early 1974 for some television interviews. He used the opportunity to hector his former student for criticising the South African regime. Prime Minister Gough Whitlam did not deign to respond, in Ancient Greek or any other known language.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

Cover: April 2012

April 2012

From the front page

Coal is not king

Another report confirms the future is renewable powered

Image of Ronan Farrow

The end of American diplomacy: Ronan Farrow’s ‘War on Peace’

The Pulitzer Prize winner explains how the State Department’s problems started long before Trump

Image of Pauline Hanson, Mark Latham and David Leyonhjelm

The Three Stooges

Hanson, Latham and Leyonhjelm are reminiscent of an irritating comedy act

Image from ‘Counterpart’

Duals duel in ‘Counterpart’

J.K. Simmons goes through the looking glass in this science-fiction espionage series


In This Issue

Malcolm Turnbull, Sydney, March 2012. © Julia Kingma

One morning with Malcolm Turnbull

On life in politics

'Life in Movement' by Bryan Mason and Sophie Hyde 
(directors),
in national release, 12 April

'Life in Movement' by Bryan Mason and Sophie Hyde

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

All Frocked Up

Grace Kelly’s Gowns in Bendigo

'The Hanging Garden' by Patrick White 
(afterword by David Marr), Knopf Australia; $29.95

'The Hanging Garden' by Patrick White


More in Encounters

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl

Mark Oliphant & J Robert Oppenheimer

John Monash & King George V

John Howard & Uri Geller


Read on

Image of Pauline Hanson, Mark Latham and David Leyonhjelm

The Three Stooges

Hanson, Latham and Leyonhjelm are reminiscent of an irritating comedy act

Image from ‘Counterpart’

Duals duel in ‘Counterpart’

J.K. Simmons goes through the looking glass in this science-fiction espionage series

Image of senator David Leyonhjelm

David Leyonhjelm: libertarian, or just vicious?

The movement for freedom and equality has a dubious record on gender

Image from Question Time in the House of Representatives

Question Time: an utterly unedifying spectacle

Has this central democratic process devolved beyond dysfunction?


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