The Novel as ‘Work in Progress’: Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus
The concept of the search beyond is present in all Hazzard's works. It becomes a metaphor not only of the existential condition, with its warp and woof of faith and failure, love and death for the person 'equipped to search', but also—as is clearly seen in the significant descriptions at the beginning and end of The Bay of Noon—of the narrative process. This takes the form of the exploration of a territory which the writer must chart, complete with coordinates, so as to form 'a whole—a region from which a few features, not necessarily those that seemed prominent at the start, will stand out in clear colours' (The Bay of Noon 154). Thus the narration does not follow a rigid pattern. Rather, as an adventure involving both writer and reader, it is 'an act in process' (Baym 235).
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Published 1 June 1991 in European Perspectives: Contemporary Essays on Australian Literature. Subjects: Narrative techniques, Romantic love, Shirley Hazzard.