Patrick White Centenary: The Legacy of a Prodigal Son
This volume marks the birth centenary of a giant amongst contemporary writers: the Australian Nobel prize-winning novelist, Patrick White (1912–1990). It proffers an invaluable insight into the current state of White studies through commentaries drawn from an international galaxy of eminent critics, as well as from newer talents.
The book proves that interest in White’s work continues to grow and diversify. Every essay offers a new insight: some are re-evaluations by seasoned critics who revise earlier positions significantly; others admit new light onto what has seemed like well-trodden terrain or focus on works perhaps undervalued in the past—his poetry, an early short story or novel—which are now subjected to fresh attention. His posthumous work has also won attention from prominent critics. New comparisons with other international writers have been drawn in terms of subject matter, themes and philosophy. The expansion of critical attention into fields like photography and film opens new possibilities for enhancing further appreciation of his work.
White’s interest in public issues such as the treatment of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, human rights and Australian nationalism is refracted through the inclusion of relevant commentaries from notable contributors. For the first time in Australian literary history, Indigenous scholars have participated in a celebration of the work of a white Australian writer. All of this highlights a new direction in White studies—the appreciation of his stature as a public intellectual. The book demonstrates that White’s legacy has limitless possibilities for further growth.
Cynthia vanden Dreisen graduated from the University of Ceylon and completed postgraduate studies at the University of Western Australia, with a doctoral thesis focused on the works of Patrick White. Her research interests lie in the areas of postcolonial literatures, particularly from India, Africa and Australia. She has taught at universities in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, South Korea and Australia, and is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. She is author and co-editor of nine books; her most recent being the sole-authored work Patrick White: Writing the Nation (2009) and a co-edited work Globalisation (2013). She is President of the Association for the Study of Australasia in Asia (ASAA).
Bill Ashcroft is a renowned critic and theorist, and a founding exponent of post-colonial theory. He is the co-author of The Empire Writes Back, the first text to examine systematically the field of post-colonial studies. He is the author and co-author of sixteen books and over 160 articles and chapters, variously translated into six languages. These publications include Post-Colonial Transformation (2001), On Post-Colonial Futures: Transformation of Colonial Culture (2001), and Caliban’s Voice (2008). He holds an Australian Professorial Fellowship at the University of New South Wales, and is currently working on a project titled “Future Thinking: Utopianism in Postcolonial Literatures.”
"[The] diversity of voices and transdisciplinary approaches has produced a complex portrait of White the man and the artist with his "many-faceted face" (172) and a reconfiguring of major directions in White criticism."
Coral Ann Howells Professor Emerita of English and Canadian Literature, University of Reading; Senior Research Fellow, Institute of English Studies, University of London Le Simplegadi 13 (2014)
"[T]he writers’ approaches have a humanist openness, an undogmatic spirit of inquiry. That this often leads them from the texts of White’s novels is maybe the price literary academics now have to pay for staying in work. The consequences are often enlightening, for instance in Kieran Dolin’s ‘‘Rewriting Australia’s Foundation Narrative’’, when he considers the fiction of White and Aboriginal author Kim Scott in terms of the Mabo case."
Peter Pierce Editor of The Cambridge History of Australian Literature The Australian, 10.01.2015
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