SnakPatrick White 100th Anniversary Challenge

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Redigeret: dec 9, 2011, 7:33 am

Hi all!

I've stolen this biography from Wikipedia:

Patrick Victor Martindale White (28 May 1912 – 30 September 1990), an Australian author, is widely regarded as an important English-language novelist of the 20th century. From 1935 until his death, he published 12 novels, two short-story collections and eight plays.

White's fiction employs humour, florid prose, shifting narrative vantage points and a stream of consciousness technique. In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—and was the only Australian citizen to have been awarded the Literature prize until J. M. Coetzee became an Australian citizen in 2006. The Vivisector, a novel about the life and times of a successful modernist painter, was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010.

White was born in Knightsbridge, London, to an English-Australian father and an English mother. His family later moved to Sydney, Australia when he was six months old. At the age of ten White was sent to Tudor House School, a boarding school in the New South Wales southern highlands, in an attempt to abate his asthma. It took him some time to adjust to the presence of other children. At boarding school he started to write plays. Even at this early age White wrote about noticeably adult themes. In 1924, the boarding school ran into financial trouble and the headmaster suggested that White be sent to public school in England; a suggestion which his parents accepted.

White struggled to adjust to his new surroundings at Cheltenham College. He later described it as "a four-year prison sentence". White withdrew socially and had a limited circle of acquaintances. Occasionally, he would holiday with his parents at European locations, but their relationship remained distant.

After finishing school, White returned to Australia and spent two years working as a stockman at Bolaro, a 73-square-kilometre (28 sq mi) station near Adaminaby on the edge of the Snowy Mountains in south-eastern Australia. His parents felt that he should work on the land rather than become a writer and hoped that his work as a jackaroo would cause his artistic ambitions to fade. Although White grew to respect the land and his health improved, it was clear that he was not cut out for this life.

From 1932 to 1935, White lived in England, studying French and German literature at King's College within Cambridge University.
During White's time at Cambridge he published a collection of poetry entitled The Ploughman and Other Poems, and wrote a play named Bread and Butter Women, which was later performed by an amateur group. After being admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1935, White briefly settled in London where he lived in an area that was frequented by artists. Here, the young author thrived creatively for a time, writing several unpublished works and reworking Happy Valley, a novel that he had written while jackarooing. In 1937, White’s father died, leaving him ten thousand pounds in inheritance. The fortune enabled him to write full-time in relative comfort.

Towards the end of the 1930s, White spent time in the United States, including Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and New York City, where he wrote The Living and the Dead. By the time World War II broke out, he had returned to London and joined the Royal Air Force. He was accepted as an intelligence officer, and was posted to the Middle East. He served in Egypt, Palestine, and Greece before the war was over. While in the Middle East, he had an affair with a Greek army officer, Manoly Lascaris, who was to become his life partner.

After the war White once again returned to Australia, buying an old house in Castle Hill, now a Sydney suburb but then semi-rural. Here he settled down with Lascaris, the Greek man he had met during the war. They lived there for 18 years, selling flowers, vegetables, milk, and cream, as well as pedigreed puppies. During these years he started to make a reputation for himself as a writer, publishing The Aunt's Story and The Tree of Man in the US in 1955 and shortly after in the UK. The Tree of Man was released to rave reviews in the US, but, in what was to become a typical pattern, was panned in Australia. White had doubts about whether to continue writing after his books were largely dismissed in Australia (three of them having been called ‘un-Australian’ by critics), but, in the end, decided to persevere. His first breakthrough in Australia came when his next novel, Voss, won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award.

In 1961, White published Riders in the Chariot. This was to become both a bestseller and a prize-winner, garnering him a second Miles Franklin Award. In 1968, White wrote The Vivisector, a searing character portrait of an artist. Many people drew links to the Sydney painter John Passmore (1904 - 1984) and White's friend, the painter Sidney Nolan, but White denied these connections. Patrick White was an art collector who had, as a young man, been deeply impressed by his friends Roy De Maistre and Francis Bacon, and later said he wished he had been an artist. White's elaborate, idiosyncratic prose was a writer's attempt to emulate painting.

White had, be then, decided not to accept any more prizes for his work, and declined both the $10,000 Britannia Award and another Miles Franklin Award. In 1979 White's novel The Twyborn Affair was short-listed for the Booker Prize, but White requested that it be removed to give younger writers a chance to win. (The prize was won by Penelope Fitzgerald, who ironically was just four years younger than White.) He became an active opponent of literary censorship and joined a number of other public figures in signing a statement of defiance against Australia’s decision to participate in the Vietnam War.

In 1986 White released one last novel, Memoirs of Many in One, though it was published under the pen name "Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray" and edited by Patrick White. In the same year, Voss was turned into an opera. White refused to see it when it was first performed at the Adelaide Festival, because Queen Elizabeth II had been invited, and chose instead to see it later in Sydney. In 1987, White wrote Three Uneasy Pieces, with his musings on ageing and society's efforts to achieve aesthetic perfection. When David Marr finished his biography of White in July 1990, his subject spent nine days going over the details with him.

Patrick White died in Sydney on 30 September 1990.

Redigeret: dec 9, 2011, 8:11 am

You've probably seen this but I thought I would post it anway - The Late Great Patrick White. A two part discussion hosted by the Australian magazine, The Monthly.

dec 9, 2011, 7:41 pm

I haven't seen those videos and will watch them soon. I see that one of the speakers is Kerry Walker who acted in a couple of White's plays.
He was a successful playwright but I've decided to concentrate this group on the novels. The other speaker is David Marr who collected White's letters - Patrick White: Letters and wrote his authorised biography. I've read the letters and have also read White's memoir Flaws in the Glass. I wouldn't recommend the latter unless one is completely in love with White. It's very good but perhaps not particularly interesting if one isn't a fan.

Redigeret: dec 10, 2011, 11:02 am

(Oops, sorry, this belongs on the message board.)

dec 12, 2011, 11:38 am

Over at The Complete Review, Michael Orthofer has made a Patrick White page with thoughtful reviews of most of the novels (but not my favourite The Tree of Man) and links to other web resources:


dec 12, 2011, 12:21 pm

There is this site by ABC - Why Bother With Patrick White?

dec 12, 2011, 7:43 pm

#5 & #6 Interesting reading.