editorial | Jeff Sparrow

I’m leaving Overland at the end of 2014, which makes this the final edition I’ll edit.

It’s been a strange seven years, watching the social settlement of the postwar era dissolve and so many of our certainties about culture and politics melt into air.

An earlier generation of literary writers took for granted the slow but inevitable advance of liberal values, nurtured by the civilising influence of their prose.

That’s no longer possible: not here, not now, in the Australia of near-permanent war and refugee gulags and legal immunity for security agents. On the contrary, the future shows every sign of being worse than the past, in ways we’re only starting to grasp.

In 1942, with the twentieth century at its darkest, Victor Serge learned of the suicide of Stefan Zweig, appalled at what Serge called the ‘collapse of a culture and a world’.

The intelligentsia was ‘being torn up and crushed by the hurricane’, wrote Serge in his diary. ‘It will only be able to rediscover its purpose in life by understanding the hurricane and flinging itself into it heart and soul.’

That’s surely the role of a journal like Overland – to make sense of our epoch’s storms and to encourage writers to engage rather than despair.

I extend my thanks to the editors, writers, designers, administrators, proofreaders, coders and volunteers who have contributed so much to Overland in the seven years I’ve been editor. Collectively, we’ve achieved a great deal, with Overland now reaching more people than ever before both in print and online.

In 2015, my friend and colleague Jacinda Woodhead takes the helm. The journal could not be in safer hands.

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

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Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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