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He or She

Robert Taubman

8 November 1979
The Twyborn Affair 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 432 pp., £5.95
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... comes back so often to the question of what it means. The skill of the performance no less than the ambiguity of the material provokes such a response – a doubt about this novel. In other novels, PatrickWhite has offered the reader something more obvious to fix the attention, such as Voss’s intense and dominating will. In the absence of an obvious meaning nothing so fixes the attention in The ...

Life and Work

Philip Horne

8 May 1986
Falling apart 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 190 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 436 44087 3
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Memoirs of Many in One 
by Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray, edited by Patrick White.
Cape, 192 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 224 02371 3
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Free Agents 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 197 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13852 7
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... of evoking potential value in Charlet’s life, and because she behaves so nastily until her breakdown, that it is hard to come up with much interest in her. Like Falling apart, the latest novel by PatrickWhite, Memoirs of Many in One, is set up as a man’s intricate filtering of a woman’s story of delusion. Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray is imagined as an old Australianised Greek woman, a friend of ...

Cursing and Breast-Beating

Ross McKibbin: Manning Clark’s Legacy

23 February 2012
An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark 
by Mark McKenna.
Miegunyah, 793 pp., £57.95, May 2011, 978 0 522 85617 0
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... High Court and six hundred others. Although not a state funeral, it was a very good imitation of one. It attested to Clark’s standing as the representative spokesman (especially after the death of PatrickWhite a few months before) of a certain kind of Australian radical-democratic nationalism. Had the conservative parties been in power, the funeral rites would have been rather different: Liberal ...

Foreign Body

Tim Winton

22 June 1995
Patrick WhiteLetters 
edited by David Marr.
Cape, 678 pp., £35, January 1995, 0 224 03516 9
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... Loved and loathed, PatrickWhite loomed over Australian literature for decades as a distant, grimacing colossus. There was simply no way around him, no way he could not be taken into consideration. Not only did he appropriate the ...


C.K. Stead

15 October 1981
Flaws in the Glass: A Self-Portrait 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 272 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 9780224029247
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... personality’ in poetry, but a slovenly artist and a childish intellect. The question of the home judgment and the judgment abroad arises frequently in post-colonial literatures, and the case of PatrickWhite illustrates its complexities. First, how ‘Australian’ is White? He was born in London but of parents who were both Australians of grazier stock. He returned to Australia during his first ...

Up from Under

John Bayley

18 February 1988
The Faber Book of Contemporary Australian Short Stories 
edited by Murray Bail.
Faber, 413 pp., £12.95, January 1988, 0 571 15083 7
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... of-the-mill novels the dense domestic scene has degenerated into empty propaganda for this or that way of life – the last resort of the artist without a true subject. In Australia, realism – what PatrickWhite, condemning the national literature in 1958, called the ‘dreary dun-coloured offspring of journalistic realism’– was the obvious method, because anything else would have seemed fancy: and ...

Bags and Iron

Sylvia Lawson

15 August 1991
Patrick WhiteA Life 
by David Marr.
Cape, 715 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 224 02581 3
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... the big one is always a glossy commodity, further upmarket than most fiction. The hype for this one was noisy and predictable: excerpts, interviews and even reviews focusing on homosexual love-lives, PatrickWhite’s awful temper, and the detective-biographer’s own gripping adventures getting hold of 2500 letters. A magazine cover shows the author, companion and dog arranged in a pastoral trio in the ...

Sea Creatures

Peter Campbell

23 July 1987
Sidney Nolan: Such is life 
by Brian Adams.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £16.95, June 1987, 0 09 168430 7
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Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures 
by John Wilmerding.
Viking, 208 pp., £25, September 1987, 9780670817665
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Faces 1966-1984 
by David Hockney and Marco Livingstone.
Thames and Hudson, 96 pp., £8.95, June 1987, 0 500 27464 9
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... They were Irish, working-class, lapsed Catholics. Sidney left school at 14 and spent his late teens in irregular employment and part-time art education. He could not draw well enough for Mr Leyshon-White’s commercial art agency, so he ran the correspondence course. He enjoyed writing to rural amateurs telling them how bad their work was. Later he made advertising displays and did a little modelling ...

Whitlam Fictions

Zachary Leader

16 February 1989
Kisses of the Enemy 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 622 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 571 15091 8
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Postcards from Surfers 
by Helen Garner.
Bloomsbury, 180 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0272 2
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by Frank Moorhouse.
Faber, 175 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 571 15210 4
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... academic subsidy, in particular the creation in 1973, by the Whitlam Labour Government, of the Literature Board of the newly-formed Australia Council. Behind established international figures such as PatrickWhite, Thomas Keneally and now Peter Carey crowds a small army – a second wave, as it were – of grant-garlanded and prize-bedecked novelists and storytellers, many of whom, especially those whose ...
16 July 1981
The Oxford Book of Short Stories 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Oxford, 547 pp., £9.50, June 1981, 0 19 214116 3
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The Short Story in English 
by Walter Allen.
Oxford, 413 pp., £9.50, February 1981, 0 19 812666 2
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... can hardly be said to be ‘younger’ than English, his own selection of stories hardly seems to bear this out. In his anthology he includes one New Zealander (Katherine Mansfield), one Australian (PatrickWhite), one Canadian (Morley Callaghan) and one Southern African (Doris Lessing). Of these four writers, three are at least as well-known for their novels as for their stories. Since this review is ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode

6 June 1985
The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... epic tragedy’, is summarised in about half the space devoted to Humphrey Clinker. Melville, like Hawthorne, gets the same wordage as Day-Lewis and a lot less than Maugham. From Australia we have PatrickWhite but not Christopher Brennan or A.D. Hope. Elsewhere one notes the ample presence of D. Lessing and the absence of D. Jacobson; his near-namesake Roman Jakobson is in, and said to be still alive ...


Peter Robb

6 March 1997
by Janette Turner Hospital.
Virago, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1996, 1 86049 123 5
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... looming of the Living Word Gospel Hall, is its hidden opal wealth. Four years before the week that constitutes the foreground of the story, a charismatic stranger has walked into town, clad in loose white garments and carrying a rifle. He has curls, a beard, intense and disturbing milky-blue eyes and a golden body. He talks like a religious huckster but the locals are mesmerised by the splendid opals ...

Flying the flag

Patrick​ Parrinder

18 November 1993
The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... hospitably claimed as a modern British master – V.S. Naipaul, who is briefly referred to as ‘the Trinidadian novelist’. This might place him with such non-British writers as Nadine Gordimer and PatrickWhite, but he is later included in Bradbury’s alphabetical checklist of British novelists since 1876. It looks as if an adverse judgment has been passed by default. It is not that Bradbury shies ...
7 March 1991
by Iain Sinclair.
Paladin, 407 pp., £14.99, March 1991, 0 586 09074 6
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... veils held down by brimmed hats, posed with long-barrelled rifles. And two men in grass skirts, with feathers in their hair, intent on a game of billiards. They are Africans. And here are twenty-odd white men, in straw boaters, surrounding a prone crocodile. Joblard, Sinclair’s friend, arranges the cards so that they tell a story. At once they become scrutable: they are images of imperialism ...

Two Poems

Patrick​ McGuinness

27 June 2002
... Morning One house next next again pert green lawn white garage sprinkler muted nothing out of order no thing untoward wraparound sound, sigh of fridge door city tightening the mountains seem not to move have texture pavement empty, road adrift, the car ...

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