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December 29, 2018


#AWW2018: Shirley Hazzard

by N@ncy


  • Editor: Brigitta Olubas
  • Title: Essays on the works of Shirley Hazzard
  • Read essay:    Future Anterior: The Evening of the Holiday (2014)
  • Read story: The Evening of the Holiday
  • Pubished: 1966 (novel)
  • Monthly reading plan


First reading: essay by J. Frow   Prof. Literature University of Sydney

  1. The text was NOT educating despite this man’s stellar credentials!
  2. But that was my fault….I have to learn to read these scholarly works:
  3. I thought a literary professor would encourage me to read Shirley Hazzard’s
  4. book The Evening of the Holiday….he has done just the opposite!
  5. Frow  has made the book so confusing (theme of punctuality…huh?).
  6. I was not going to let this happen…I read the essay a second time.


Second reading:

  1. I have now learned to gather specific information that
  2. I feel enlightening and if the author wants to
  3. go off on a tangent (punctuality)…I let him go but did to follow him!
  4. I’ve also learned to make a plan: if the words are ‘too academic’
  5. for example, comedy of incommensuration I must  take the time to find
  6. …words in the dictionary that make the meaning clearer.
  7. Also in literary theory the words aesthetic and ethical are often used.
  8. As soon as I see these words my mind goes blank.
  9. Now I have learned the basic meanings of these words
  10. …so I can continue in the flow of reading without losing my mind!
  11. aesthetic – more concerned with the love of beauty, emotion and sensation…as opposed to
  12. ethical – more intellectualism ( accepted morals; principles of right and wrong)



  1. Despite my rocky start reading J. Frow’s essay
  2. …I do want to read The Evening Holiday!
  3. The story which quietly allows people to change their
  4. …minds about one another
  5. …and fall in love without melodrama.
  6. Characters:
  7. Middle aged, married Tancredi
  8. young Sophia (British/Italian descent) in 1950’s Tuscany.
  9. I am curious how Shirley Hazzard
  10. …brings this all together in just 144 pages.


The Evening Holiday  (story)

  1. Published: 1962 ‘long short story’ in the New Yorker
  2. Published: 1966 novella
  3. Trivia: textures of Italian life and culture are bound up with the romance
  4. Structure:
  5. ch 1-6 courtship – ch 7 festival in village –  ch 8-14 affair – ch 15-16 au revoir.
  6. Characters:  are attracted to each other’s complications
  7. Weak point: Hazzard spends 50% book describing everything
  8. …fountains, gardens, piazza’s, villa’s countryside and even the post office.
  9. This sense of space gets ‘out of control’.
  10. Strong point: Hazzard uses inner dialogues to move the action along.
  11. We read what Sophia is thinking  VS
  12. …what Tancredi  THINKS she is thinking.

Last Thoughts:

  1. This book was very short and easy to read.
  2. There is a rhythm to the sentences.
  3. Personally I found the love affair too sugar spin sweet.
  4. There were no passionate outbursts, pledges of love
  5. …just a ho-hum fling that was reaching an inevitable ending.
  6. I will not let one book discourage me….
  7. ..and will try to read more of Shirley Hazzard!
  8. #NeverGiveUp


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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 1 2019

    I love Shirley Hazzard so would be interested in this book.

    But, I’m going to comment on words being “too academic”. I do volunteer indexing with a little team of film journals, and some of them can get very academic and theoretical. A phrase I remember from a recent article was “the citationality of the performative form”. What?!!? My mind goes blank sometimes too!


    • Jan 1 2019

      I thought a writer should extend a hand to the reader and draw him/her into the book or essay.
      When an academic (as George Eliot so nicely expresses…) “…dips his wings in the ‘mare magnum (great sea) of philosophical interpretation….” I generally float way on my wings!
      It depends on the book…if I’m determined to learn something I will gladly look op words in the dictionary!


      • Jan 1 2019

        Haha Nancy, love it. I agree… I think the only proviso here is who the writer is writing for? An academic may not be writing for a lay audience so is not interested in extending his/her hand to all readers?

        Liked by 1 person

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