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Issue Details: First known date: 1985... 1985 Finding a Place : Landscape and the Search for Identity in the Early Novels of Patrick White
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Patrick White's first five novels reveal much of the writer's personal struggle to resolve the dilemma of his dichotomous perception of self. This dichotomy is founded on circumstances of his life which placed him in a situation of cultural conflict. Having spent his formative years in Australia,White then received the bulk of his formal educa­ tion in England, and this seems to have had a profound effect on his sense of identity. Consequently, his early novels show signs of this difficulty, as if they were written mainly for the purposes of understanding and resolving it. That is the view expressed in this thesis, which traces White's progress from an uncertain sense of self to the point at which he embraces his Australian identity as a wholly acceptable fact. This progression can be seen most clearly in the treatment of landscape exhibited in his five novels. Landscape seems a particularly important source of inspiration to Patrick White, since he uses it not merely as a means of expressing his feelings about a place, especially about Australia, but as a sounding board for theen ­tangled, disparate emotions of his many characters. Through landscape, White explores such human responses to life as alienation, capitulation, indifference, receptiveness and acceptance. In addition, he uses the same point of reference to examine the relationship be­tween man and _God. The author's quest for a sense of place is paralleled by his equally personal search for some religious faith. His characters progress from exhibiting subliminal desires to look beyond the concrete realities of life, for an indefinable presence they only suspect exists, to the point of acknowledging the existence of God in every thing they see. Yet this twofold preoccupation, with a sense of national identity and a sense of God, does not end there.In the last of these novels, Voss, White synthesizes his views of man's place in things and man's relationship with God in a final statement that evidences strong feelings towards both. For White, it would seem, the end of a personal quest can only be proclaimed by the adoption of a stringent code of beliefs.'  (Thesis description)


  • M.A. Thesis, Australian National University, 1985.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      Canberra, Australian Capital Territory,: 1985 .
      Extent: vii, 122 leavesp.
Last amended 25 May 2020 13:45:31