Nora Porteous has returned to Brisbane only to find herself confronted with Camelot. Bedridden with pneumonia on arrival, the septuagenarian narrator of Jessica Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River (1978) passes her convalescence by embarking on a retrospect of her life - a life which has taken her in a slow orbit from the Brisbane of her girlhood to London, where she lived for some thirty years, and finally back to Brisbane, where she has grudgingly resigned herself to living out her remaining years. Rallying to the unwelcome prospect of her Queensland twilight, Nora sets out to untangle a life-long sense of alienation from her subtropical surroundings. This sense of alienation has prompted her in her youth to view Brisbane through the prism of romantic Arthurianism, casting herself as a kind of antipodean Lady of Shalott, exiled from both life and love. It is only through comprehending the personal and cultural motives for her 'Arthurianising' that Nora can accomplish her final, inverse act of transformation: turning Camelot back into Brisbane, a Brisbane to which she can reconcile herself in old age.
ANZSRC / FoR Code
2005 LITERARY STUDIES