Abstract: 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.

Keywords: nationalism, worlding, modernity and space, Eleanor Dark, Ernestine Hill

Copyright © Adam Gall 2014. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.