Tuesdays at 7PM EST via Zoom
June 6th–June 27th
"The Transit of Venus is one of the great English-language novels of the twentieth century. It's difficult to make such a straight, simple claim without wanting to modify or amplify it, but it is. It is greater than any novel by Don DeLillo. It is greater than any work by Alice Munro or Thomas Pynchon. No disrespect to those three indisputable geniuses, or to anyone else whose books have been tagged, however deservedly, with the word masterpiece, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a better novel than Shirley's."
—The Paris Review
Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus has been hailed as one of the greatest of twentieth-century novels. It is the story of two Australian sisters, Caroline and Grace Bell, whose relationships and marriages take them from Sydney to London, New York, and Stockholm. Spanning the 1950s to the 1980s, Caroline and Grace’s lives are mingled with political events and upheaval, what Hazzard’s biographer Brigitta Olubas calls “the globalising postwar world.” But at its core, and to its legions of passionate devotees, The Transit of Venus is a book about love—great love, tragic love—and betrayal, truth, beauty, all riven with the perils of knowing and not knowing others. Its dense, poetic, symbolic, and heavily sculpted prose is magisterial, even dazzling. (A book of Herculean effort and weighty erudition, The Transit of Venus took Hazzard twelve years to write; some pages are said to have gone through twenty or even thirty drafts.) In our seminar, we will put The Transit of Venus into the context of Hazzard’s life and times as we collectively unpack its allusions and many layers of rich meaning.
Christine Smallwood is the author of the novel The Life of the Mind.
(Ticket price includes the copy of the book and priority shipping)