'The year 1788: the very beginning of European settlement. These were times of hardship, cruelty and danger. Above all, they were times of conflict between the Aborigines and the white settlers.
'Eleanor Dark brings alive those bitter years with moments of tenderness and conciliation amid the brutality and hostility. The cast of characters includes figures historical and fictional, black and white, convict and settler. All the while, beneath the veneer of British civilisation, lies the baffling presence of Australia, the 'timeless land'.
'The Storm of Time and No Barrier complete the Timeless Land trilogy. ' (Publication summary)
The naturalisation of the Australian continent and its imaginary closure have long formed an important component of Australia’s culture of nationalism. This spatial dimension has been bound up with, but analytically separable from, figurations of Australian identity which were dependent upon imposing racialised boundaries. The culture of Australian nationalism thus depends in its formation upon exemplary instances of an “island-continental” perspective in some of its most prized narratives. This article turns to a specific moment in the cultural history of Australian nationalism—at the end of the interwar period—to examine some influential narratives that construct such a perspective. It analyses elements in two historical novels, Eleanor Dark’s The Timeless Land and Ernestine Hill’s My Love Must Wait, which appeared in 1941, as war in the Pacific loomed. By addressing Dark and Hill’s parallel projects, it will elaborate on how this nationalist spatial imaginary mediates an Australian national modernity that is also about difference and distinction from its metropolitan models. This is a project of worlding the nation, creating in narrative a meaningful background for spatial politics. These novels show us how Australian modernity finds a point of difference precisely in what Suvendrini Perera refers to as the “massivity” of the island-continent, Australia. [From the journal's website]