This article argues that the seemingly disparate affective and corporeal sensations of abjection and compassion significantly inform the fiction of Australian modernist, Patrick White. Focusing in particular on White's early novel The Living and the Dead (1977), a work often sidelined in critical discussions of his writing, it maintains that the dialectical tension between abjection and compassion that fascinates White informs his representations (and troubling) of subjectivity from the beginning of his oeuvre. Accordingly, the article identifies the importance of corporeality within White's fiction, an aspect of his work that has often been occluded within critical readings committed to his transcendentalism. With particular reference to Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection and various recent theoretical conceptions of affect, it suggests that White's characters' sublime, recurring and transient forfeitures of identity may be profoundly imbricated with their surrender to - as opposed to their transcendence of - embodiment. Finally, the article argues that White's persistent elaboration of affect as corporeal suggests a physicality of literature that evokes the reader's own embodied sense of compassion. Altogether, the article explores the ways in which White's fiction reclaims a focus on corporeality that he perceived as lost to an inherently narcissistic modern consciousness (Author's abstract).