Review of Gail Jones: Word, Image, Ethics, by Tanya Dalziell


Grouping sets of novels and stories to elucidate the functions of key tropes in Jones’s fiction, Dalziell covers the writer’s entire output up to 2020. With recourse to the novelist’s essays and interviews, chapters provide close readings of weather, time, reading and writing, image and modernity. The interest overall is to show how unstable oscillations in the stories serve to express an idea of ethical relations as tentative constructions of community aware of their limitations, both in life and literature.

Gail Jones: Word, Image, Ethics, by Tanya Dalziell. Sydney University Press, 2020.

Over the last decade, when I am moved to write an article I regularly am told by referees that my tone is not scholarly enough and I am insufficiently theorised. Well, having got past the time when I need to do some academic showing off, I think that it is more important to point readers to things of interest in new writing than to bury it under jargon and erudite philosophising. So I am pleased to report that Tanya Dalziell has produced an accessible set of readings of Gail Jones’s work that remind me of important themes, demonstrate how the writing works to express them, and reveal details I had forgotten or not noticed at all (snowdomes, to pick just one).

This is not to say that the study is simplistic. Dalziell mentions at least twenty-five of the usual suspects in theorising time, trauma ethics, photography, narrative, etcetera, but she…

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 30 April 2021 in Volume 36 No. 1. Subjects: Allegory, Community, Memory, Modernity, Reconciliation, Trauma theory, Gail Jones.

Cite as: Sharrad, Paul. ‘Review of Gail Jones: Word, Image, Ethics, by Tanya Dalziell.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 36, no. 1, 2021, doi: 10.20314/als.804863e61b.