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Shirley Hazzard (Sydney 1931 – New York 2016)

Brigitta Olubas   University of New South Wales

220px-shirley_hazzard_australian_writer_mercantile_library_for_fiction_benefit_awards_dinner_october_29_2007_photo_by_christopher_petersonShirley Hazzard was an author admired for the self-reflectiveness, delicacy of phrasing, wit and irony, intensely personal resonance and finely realised sense of place which characterised both her fictional and non-fictional writings. Italy played a fundamental part in her life and work. Her first year there, 1956, was spent in Tuscany where she established a close friendship with the Vivante family, artists, philosophers and writers, and developed the penetrating eye into social relationships of love and loss analysed in her novels set in Italy and elsewhere. She returned regularly to Naples and to Capri for the rest of her life and was made an honorary citizen of Capri in 2000. She often underlined her debt to Italy: “From the first day (in Naples), everything changed. I was restored to life and power and thought.” The point was never simply personal but rather bound to the persistence of humanist art and thought there: “In Italy, the mysteries remain important: the accidental quality of existence, the poetry of memory, the impassioned life that is animated by awareness of eventual death. There is still synthesis, rather than formula. There is still expressive language.”   Continue reading

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