'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)