‘Years Later’: Temporality and Closure in Peter Carey’s Novels


Peter Carey's novels are usually treated as works of postmodern fiction. This is obviously appropriate, but it can also be limiting. A.J. Hassall makes an important point when he reminds us that, in spite of playing postmodern games with the reader, Carey has a 'classic, unfashionable concern with morality' (Hassall 72). In order to do justice to the richness and beauty of Carey's novels, it is necessary to remind ourselves of these unfashionable aspects of the works. Indeed, Carey does play games with his readers, but he is also skilled in more traditional methods of storytelling, and this blend of innovation and tradition makes his novels extremely complex and intriguing. In line with the treatment of his novels as postmodern is the insistence on the open-endedness of the texts. While this is justified to some extent, it is also necessary, if we want to do justice to the complexity of the novels, to recognise that revelation and closure are significant aspects of Carey's texts. In this article, I will attempt to balance the account of Carey's novels, challenging the idea of the texts as open-ended by reading them as essentially closed. The focus will be on Carey's use of prolepses. I will argue that the many prolepses indicate a perception of time as closed and an awareness of the revelatory potential of narrative: the capacity of the end to rewrite what has led up to it.

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Published 1 October 1999 in Volume 19 No. 2. Subjects: Anticipation, Literary criticism, Narrative structure, Narrative techniques, Plot, Writer's craft, Peter Carey.

Cite as: Larsson, Christer. ‘‘Years Later’: Temporality and Closure in Peter Carey’s Novels.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, 1999, doi: 10.20314/als.a2ba8becb7.