AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 The Forces of Habit and the Ethics of Self-Composture in Patrick White’s Fiction
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

In an early passage from Patrick White’s novel The Twyborn Affair (1979), the protagonist offers a spirited defense of the odors that waft from a man’s body: “Even what you call their smelly smells can have a perverse charm. The smell of an old man, for instance. So many layers of life lived—such a compost!” (52). The metaphor of compost for accumulated life experience is quintessential White, drawing inspiration from the natural world, but also celebrating its grossness rather than its supposed purity.1 It also represents a peculiar way of thinking about the “layers of life lived,” which might be more conventionally represented as inscriptions upon the body (e.g. the lines on the face that tell a story) or as hard geological layers, solidly encrusted around a stable core. Compost is layered, but the layers are loosely assembled, shifting as the organic matter decomposes and the pile recomposes itself accordingly.' (Introduction)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Comparatist vol. 40 October 2016 10455078 2016 periodical issue 2016 pg. 128-143
Last amended 7 Sep 2017 13:08:19
128-143 The Forces of Habit and the Ethics of Self-Composture in Patrick White’s Fictionsmall AustLit logo The Comparatist
Subjects:
Newspapers:
    Powered by Trove
    X