Chapter 1: MEMORY - OBSESSION ABOUT THE PAST
Chapter 2: ART - THE PAST AS MULTIPLE PRESENT
Chapter 3: HISTORY - WHOSE STORY?
Jane Urquhart is the author of several volumes of poetry, a collection of short-stories, Storm Glass (1987), and five novels: The Whirlpool (1986), Changing Heaven (1990), Away (1993), The Underpainter (1997), The Stone Carvers (2001). The first two novels, The Whirlpool, which won France's distinguished Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in 1992, and Changing Heaven, received considerable critical acclaim. However, it was Away that brought Urquhart fame, becoming one of the best-selling novels in the history of Canadian literature. The Underpainter was awarded the 1997 Governor General's Literary Award, the most important Canadian literary prize.
Jane Urquhart's fiction eludes easy classification, because of the variety of themes touched upon by the writer, as well as her ambiguous, lyrical use of language. Written in a metaphorical style, Urquhart's novels reveal the author's extraordinary sensitivity in her perception of the world. Her poetic prose, in which the everyday intermingles with the lyrical or the magical, conveys in a unique, fascinating way, the complexities of female mentality. Her characters tend to be involved in intense, complicated love-relationships and are tormented by powerful obsessions, which cause them to redefine their identity. Moreover, Urquhart's poetic style opens up magical and transcendental dimensions of life, depicting in an ever elusive, intellectually challenging way, profound metaphysical experiences.
In my study, I focus on the representations of the past in Jane Urquhart's four novels:
The Whirlpool, Changing Heaven, Away and The Underpainter. Since in all of them the past figures with prominence, they seem to have some affinities with historical fiction. However, they are not just historical novels because Urquhart's representations of memory, culture, and history are so unconventional and thought-provoking that they provide deep insights into the very concept of the past.