We read in The Spectator this morning that Captain Cook has been effectively cancelled in the National Curriculum for schools. To set the record straight, there is a stirring account of Cook’s career in the very first edition of Quadrant in 1956 which appeared in 1956. This is the article, with the editor’s introduction to the venture.
For people who are too busy to read all about the details of Cook’s seamanship the editorial may be more interesting, it is worth a good look to see what was in James McAuley’s mind at the time.
Quadrant was founded as a part of the cultural fightback in the Cold War, led by the International Congress for Cultural Freedom. The flagship was the magazine Encounter and in Australia the local branch of the Congress was led by Richard Krygier, a Polish-Jewish refugee. The founding editor of Quadrant was the leading poet James McAuley and the early editions have become collectors items because he published the leading poets, essayists and critics of the day in Australia, spiced with international contributions. They stand as a monument to the spirit of freedom and the best aspects of western culture and intellectual life.
McAuley wanted the magazine “To be Australian in our orientation, because we are interested in this country, its people, its problems, its cultural life, its liberties, and its safety.” And “To publish work of interest and merit on any topic without regard to the affiliations or repute of the author, the sole requirement being that the material should be worth reading.”