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“A thoroughly refined and harmonious house, in short; such a house as could only belong to cultivated and enlightened people...”

According to Susan Lever and Elizabeth Morrison, The  Perversity  of  Human  Nature   by Ada Cambridge records  a  precise  moment  in  Melbourne’s  urban  history before  the  end  of  the  Land  Boom,  when  St  Kilda  was  fashionable,  when  sail  was  still  an alternative  to  steam  from  the  port  at  Sandridge  (now  Port  Melbourne),  when  the  Aesthetic Movement  was  most  influential  and  Melbourne  women  dared  to  follow  the  dictates  of William  Morris  about  dress  and  interior  design.  

Cambridge’s novel can be seen as a  turning  point  in Ada Cambridge’s writing  career, revealing a  remarkable  freedom  from  conventional  fictional  pieties—for example dealing  with bigamy  and  its  consequences, in  a  satirical,  even  cavalier  vein.  

Rather than a story of  a  woman’s  rebellion  against  domesticity,  The  Perversity  is  a  satire  on the  expectations  of  marriage  and  the  selfishness  of  both  practical  husband  and  self- dramatizing  wife. 

The novel’s appearance as  a  Christmas  tale also  shows  a  level  of  subversion  rather  than  an  expression  of  Christmas  sentiment:  indeed, Cambridge writes that  ‘Christmas  in  these  parts  is  seldom  a  complete  success,  under  the  most  favorable of conditions...’

ADA CAMBRIDGE (1844–1926), was an English-born Australian writer, highly regarded for her more than twenty-five works of fiction, numerous volumes of poetry and two autobiographical works. Known to friends and family by her married name, Ada Cross, she was known to her newspaper readers by the initials, A.C.

Belletristik und Literatur
23. März
Griffin Classic Books

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