Memory, Community, and Writing in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Ian Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Memory, the thinking of forms and places of community, and the writing project itself together form a critical three part nexus in the collaborative work of Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw, and the aim of this paper is to explore that in the context of a reading of their last work, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. "Memory" and "community" have been the subject of intense interrogation over the last decade or so, and it is my argument that this contemporary work - and, especially, the concurrent rereading of Kant's third critique in that context - provides a compelling new way of understanding Barnard and Eldershaw's preoccupations and achievement. From the outset, in A House is Built (1929), their focus is keenly historical; however, that interest is subsequently supplemented, and complicated, by a concern with the nature of memory. So Green Memory (1931), the second book, is impelled by an interest in the causal role memory - and memorialising - can have, and for all its unevenness is energised by an extraordinary account or the formation of traumatic memory in a child. The following three novels, The Glasshouse (1936), Plaque with Laurel (1937), and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1947), develop that concern, enlarging the scope from family to community and, in each case, exploring an analogic link between memory, writing, and the imagining of community through the inclusion of a writer at the narrative's centre. In The Glasshouse the novelist Stirling Armstrong writes imagined histories of her fellow passengers on the voyage from Antwerp to Fremantle; Plaque with Laurel recounts a writers' conference at which the key event is the dedication of a memorial plaque to a writer then five years dead; while Tomorrow tells the story of the day that follows the day in which a twenty-fourth century writer - Knarf - completes his sprawling historical novel. The two events which dominate the day are the vote to determine whether, in this bureaucratically rigid society, there ought be a community decision making practice, and second, Knarf's reading of, and commentary on, his novel to a friend.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-114
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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