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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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... ambiguity of the material provokes such a response – a doubt about this novel. In other novels, Patrick White 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 Twyborn Affair. There is a good deal of absence in this ...

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, Patrick White 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 physical and spiritual landscape in his major novels, The Tree of Man, Voss and Riders in the Chariot: in cultural terms he became the landscape ...

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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... that it is hard to come up with much interest in her. Like Falling apart, the latest novel by Patrick White, 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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... It attested to Clark’s standing as the representative spokesman (especially after the death of Patrick White 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 Party grandees would not have crowded the cathedral. As ...

Grumbles

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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... judgment and the judgment abroad arises frequently in post-colonial literatures, and the case of Patrick White 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 year of life and ...

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 life – the last resort of the artist without a true subject. In Australia, realism – what Patrick White, 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 White himself ...

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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... noisy and predictable: excerpts, interviews and even reviews focusing on homosexual love-lives, Patrick White’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 Fifties. Towards an Australian Bloomsbury? There ...

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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... 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 for a hat company. He read a great deal, and made ...

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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Forty-Seventeen 
by Frank Moorhouse.
Faber, 175 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 571 15210 4
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... Board of the newly-formed Australia Council. Behind established international figures such as Patrick White, 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 reputations derive initially from short ...

Ars Brevis, Vita Longa

Dan Jacobson, 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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... this out. In his anthology he includes one New Zealander (Katherine Mansfield), one Australian (Patrick White), 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 being written in Australia, I should report that for ...

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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... Hawthorne, gets the same wordage as Day-Lewis and a lot less than Maugham. From Australia we have Patrick White 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, though alas he is not. Why Auerbach and not ...

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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... Trinidadian novelist’. This might place him with such non-British writers as Nadine Gordimer and Patrick White, 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 away from evaluative criticism: the book is full of ...

Roasted

Peter Robb, 6 March 1997

Oyster 
by Janette Turner Hospital.
Virago, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1996, 1 86049 123 5
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... 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 he shows them. Soon they’re in business ...

Adventures at the End of Time

Angela Carter, 7 March 1991

Downriver 
by Iain Sinclair.
Paladin, 407 pp., £14.99, March 1991, 0 586 09074 6
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... 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. Joblard titles this picture story, what else, ‘Heart of ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... same table. During the course of the next week, I was to make several similar errors. Names like Patrick White and A.D. Hope were greeted with candid derision, and nobody had heard of Clive James.* When, at one of the actual Festival’s talk-ins, I said that it was odd to find Peter Porter missing from various standard anthologies of Australian ...

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