'Patrick White's brilliant 1961 novel, set in an Australian suburb, intertwines four deeply different lives. An Aborigine artist, a Holocaust survivor, a beatific washerwoman, and a childlike heiress are each blessed—and stricken—with visionary experiences that may or may not allow them to transcend the machinations of their fellow men. Tender and lacerating, pure and profane, subtle and sweeping, Riders in the Chariot is one of the Nobel Prize winner's boldest books. (Publication summary)
'During my childhood in Castle Hill, a western Sydney suburb of housing developments, colonial weatherboards and bush blocks, I walked each week from school to piano lessons. The route took me down Showground Road where Patrick White and his partner Manoly bought six acres and a bungalow—‘a bit of Strathfield in a paddock’—in 1948. They named their house Dogwoods, and lived there for eighteen years.' (Introduction)
Settled by white convicts and often by people with few prospects in the Old World, Australia was sometimes thought of negatively as a dumping ground of miscreants and ne’er-do-wells. This paper traces how, post-war, this perception was challenged in the fiction of Patrick White and David Malouf, which depicts local versions of the outcast artist in actual rubbish dumps and the creative, regenerative transformations that can occur there.