Janette Turner Hospital’s Radical Re-Writing: Oedipal Charades


Janette Turner Hospital is a writer who travels: geographically, spiritually, emotionally, generically. She takes risks, crosses borders, makes radical departures (her third novel is entitled Borderline). Yet she never really leaves anything behind. She is conscious above all of baggage, and makes constant returns to the past to rework its legacy. 'Archaeology' is one of her favourite tropes. Being a traveller means to belong nowhere, to be 'out of place' wherever one is (Dislocations is the title of her first collection of short stories). To preserve a sense of continuity, which is simultaneously a sense of self, the traveller makes connections between dispersed elements: places, times, cultures, people, orders. This is reflected in the title of her second collection of stories, Isobars. Yet there are certain constants in both her writing and her life. One is her commitment to feminism, however shifting. Another is literature itself - or rather, narrative. The titles of three of her novels, The Ivory Swing, The Tiger in the Tiger Pit, and Charades, are all direct references to literary classics from disparate cultural traditions.

The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers

Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.

Published 1 October 1996 in Volume 17 No. 4. Subjects: Characterisation, Identity, Imagery, Self, Writer's craft, Writer's inspiration.

Cite as: Bergmann, Laurel. ‘Janette Turner Hospital’s Radical Re-Writing: Oedipal Charades.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 17, no. 4, 1996, doi: 10.20314/als.88f1c887c8.