'Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naïve young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent. As hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his power to endure and to lead, his attachment to Laura gradually increases. Laura, waiting in Sydney, moves through the months of separation as if they were a dream and Voss the only reality.
From the careful delineation of Victorian society to the sensitive rendering of hidden love to the stark narrative of adventure in the Australian desert, Patrick White's novel is a work of extraordinary power and virtuosity.'
Source: Random House Books (Sighted 21/09/2012)
'What is the present status of imagining a continental scale for literature as it denotes something that is neither national, regional, nor global? How does a continental formation such as Australia’s invite a reframing of the national-global dichotomy so constitutive to the methodologies of world literature? Critical regionalisms, worlding, ‘planetary’ poetics, and systems-based and network analyses of culture, history, and literature all offer rich supplements to national-global thinking, as evidenced by recent developments in world literature theory. This paper turns to the category of continent as one that simultaneously conjures territorial place, geological time-scales, indigenous history, colonial projects, and postcolonial national politics and affiliations. How do these various vectors play out in making and remaking a sense of continental identity? In what ways do literary canons inflect this process? Given the function of canons as a memory discourses of a kind, how do the critical politics of memory structure a reading of Australian, African, Indo-Pakistani, European, or hemispheric American ‘continental literature’?
'This paper does not inventory any of these literatures but rather explores how thinking at a continental scale brings into focus particular aspects of a literary corpus: deep historical time, territorial inheritance, ghost presences of those who were here before, necropolitical violence, ecological being and nonanthropocentric relationality, and more. These aspects turn on various corporealizations or embodiments of a continent (land, canon), but they are also deeply indebted to what might be called continental corpses, that is, the dead who still walk the land, still claim their day, still await their incorporation, and still oblige us to confront the traumatic histories of the past. This paper turns to the landscape of memory, as configured in trauma theory, psychoanalytic theory, and memory studies, in order to theorize the category of continental literature as something distinct from, and certainly useful for, world literature.' (Publication abstract)
In this essay Angus Nicholls gives a 'new reading of the German romanticism in Voss (1957)' [and] 'provides an inspiring example of what practised hands can do with the hoard.' (Introduction 7)
'Mark McKenna traces the ups and downs of another queer relationship, the oftentimes unreciprocated love of Australia's 'great' historian Manning Clark for the visionary he saw in White. He shows how Clark's monumental multi-volume History of Australia expresses greater allegiance to the preoccupations of Australia's 'elite' mid-century writers and artists, notably White and Sidney Nolan, than to the work of Clark's contemporaries in the academic discipline of history.' (Introduction 7-8)
'The first part of this thesis studies the gendering effects of the literary wanderer in Voss and To the islands. The second part, "The September Sisters" is a novel set in Australia with a female Wanderer and her sister as its central protagonists.' (Trove)
'Critics have suggested that the publication of Patrick White’s Voss (1957) and Randolph Stow’s To the Islands (1958) within a year of each other signalled both a search for truth, and a questioning of cultural norms. Critical discourse has largely centred on the main characters (Voss and Heriot) and their movement within, and relationship to, an omnipresent landscape. I propose, however, to consider the influence of European literary traditions on depictions of gender in Voss and To the Islands.
'It is my contention that in modelling their main characters on the literary figure of the Wanderer, White and Stow amplify traditional masculine ideals. This is due to the intrinsic connection between the Wanderer and melancholy, the sublime and genius. These tropes have been masculinised to such an extent that the values and beliefs they encompass quite often pass unacknowledged by the reader. Foregrounding the powerful connections binding the Wanderer and masculinity will therefore, facilitate a reading of gender in Voss and To the Islands that has until now been overlooked.' (Publication abstract)
'This paper examines Ludwig Leichhardt's early Australian diaries, spanning from April 1842 until July 1844, in relation to his cultural legacy. Although Leichhardt's standing as an explorer was initially established following the success of his journey to Port Essington in 1844-46, his reputation in Australia was later damaged by controversies arising from rival accounts of both this first journey and particularly of the second expedition of 1846-47. These controversies, at times informed by anti-Prussian and later by anti-German prejudices, have dominated Leichhardt's reception in Australia, while at the same time diverting attention from his German cultural background and the ways in which it may have influenced his writings on Australia. Leichhardt's education took place within the contexts of the late German Enlightenment, of philosophical idealism and of romanticism, and key elements of those interrelated movements can be detected in his early Australian diaries. It is, moreover, clear that Leichhardt saw his letters and diaries as contribution not only to the natural sciences, but also to the genre of romantic travel literature, exemplified by his idol Alexander von Humboldt, among others. This in turn raises the possibility that Leichhardt's own romantic modes of expression may have influenced his most culturally resonant alter-ego in the canon of Australian literature, the eponymous protagonist of Patrick White's novel Voss (1957). ' (541)
In this essay, the authors review 'a selection of the more influential writings about Leichhardt to demonstrate both the enduring
interest in his life and the vastly different perspectives held in the texts.' (537)