Riders in the Chariot
Bliv bruger af LibraryThing, hvis du vil skrive et indlæg
Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.
Of this novel, White wrote:
"What I want to emphasize through my four "Riders"--an orthodox refugee intellectual Jew, a mad Erdgeist of an Australian spinster, an evangelical laundress, and a half-caste Aboriginal painter--is that all faiths, whether religions, humanistic, instinctive, or the creative artist's act of praise, are in fact one."
White's prose shimmers as he deeply probes the psyches of his characters. I find that he frequently writes on the periphery of what is actually happening, so close reading is necessary. His descriptions are vivid and brilliant. Miss Hare, the eccentric heiress, has, "at times the look of a sunflower, at others just an old basket coming to pieces."
When Miss Hare encounters Alf Dubbo, the aboriginal painter,
"Once she had entered through his eyes, and at first glance recognized familiar furniture, and once again she had entered in, and their souls had stroked each other with reassuring feathers, but very briefly, for each had suddenly taken fright."
I love the image of your ideas as "furniture" in your mind, and of "reassuring feathers."
While the novel is seemingly plotless, in actuality a lot happens, over an epic canvas, from the Holoicaust, to the "Great Experiment" in which half-aboriginal children were removed from their homes to be raised by missionaries. Dubbo, one of the children wrested from his parents, although a talented artist is an alcoholic who works as a janitor. The Jewish intellectual who survived the Holocaust, but who is wracked with guilt that his wife did not, has consciously decided to put aside his education and experience to work at a menial job. The laundress, who seems to have as many children as the old woman who lived in a shoe, nevertheless has it within herself to nurture the other three damaged souls. And Miss Hare, who lived a life of luxury as a child (but also a life without love) now lives in a decrepit mansion, with trees growing through the wall, and feeds snakes to try to befriend them.
The novel is divided into sections, each devoted to one of these characters. Thus, we not only delve into the mind of that character, but we also get glimpses of what the other characters look like to the outside world.
This is one of the best books I've read in a while, and I highly recommend it. I'm convinced White is one the twentieth century author who will still be read in the 22nd century.
"White's exquisite prose draws the reader into the souls of Miss Hare, an elderly woman living in a dilapidated mansion; Mordecai Himmelfarb, a Jewish immigrant; Mrs Godbold, a long-suffering housewife; and Alf Dubbo, an Aboriginal man who paints. Plot is secondary to the spiritual journeys of the four characters. Each of these has its own culmination, resulting in moments of high emotion such as I have seldom experienced in literature.
Patrick White shows a piercing insight into human nature. He confronts all that is ugly and shameful, and in incredible detail. Riders in the Chariot is lengthy and not for the fainthearted but if you adore beautiful prose it is definitely rewarding. Reading this novel was an astonishing journey and one that I will never, ever forget."
A final thought; what an earth are we to make of White’s choice of names for his Characters: Mary Hare for instance the madwoman (as mad as a March Hare) Mrs Godbold the good Christian, The aboriginal artist who signs his paintings "A Dubbo" and there are others. The policeman to whom a fire is reported is called Mr McFaggot and the strong but brainless fiancée of one of the Godbold girls is Bob Tanner. Is Patrick White having his own little joke, should we take him seriously?
Edit | More
Unusual isn't it? I wonder what is the literal meaning of "Himmelfarb"? "Himmel" is "heaven"??
That grumpy old curmudgeon that you see peering out at you from his many photos was probably a bit more than grumpy throughout most of his life.
-->10 baswood: As well as Barranugli (=Barren +Ugly), there is also a nearby town called Numburra (=Numb + Borough?). White doesn't work hard to disguise his contempt.
There is still something slightly disturbing about the smile....
I finished Riders... last night. Excellent, really excellent. Possibly my read of the year to date. The ending, with the former Mrs Rosetree now back as a European exile in polite society was extremely bitter, while the fate of the four mystics did not reflect well on humanity as a whole. Still, I found it to be a strangely beautiful book.
I have a few reading commitments over the next month or so (book groups, etc.) but I will be trying to revisit White later in the year. Thanks for helping me discover him here.