UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Four novels of Patrick White Bellette, Antony Frank 1963

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FOUR NOVELS OF PATRICK WHITE by  -«>•/  ANTONY FRANK BELLETTE B.A.(Hons.), The U n i v e r s i t y o f Tasmania, 1959  ' A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS' FOR THE DEGREE OF Master o f A r t s  i n the Department of English  We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o the r e q u i r e d standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1963  In presenting  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of  the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y  of  B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and m i s s i o n f o r extensive purposes may  study.  I f u r t h e r agree that per-  copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y  be granted by the Head of my Department or  h i s representatives,.  I t i s understood that copying or  c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n .  Department of The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver 8, Canada. Date  UUJUM^  , (^  by publi-  allowed  ii  ABSTRACT The  i n t e n t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s i s to remedy the l a c k of  s e r i o u s c r i t i c a l a t t e n t i o n g i v e n to the A u s t r a l i a n n o v e l i s t P a t r i c k White. In A u s t r a l i a c r i t i c a l r e a c t i o n has been t e p i d i f not openly h o s t i l e , while small number of c r i t i c s a l background and  i n B r i t a i n and America only a  have d i s s o c i a t e d White from h i s r e g i o n -  endeavoured t o place him  i n a wider  context.  I t i s the purpose of the t h e s i s t o d e f i n e t h i s context,  and  t o demonstrate t h a t White i s a h i g h l y o r i g i n a l n o v e l i s t i n his  own  right. Of White's t o t a l output to the present  n o v e l s , o n l y f o u r are d i s c u s s e d The  Tree o f Man  time o f s i x  h e r e — T h e Aunt's S t o r y  (1948),  (1955).,Voss (1957), and R i d e r s i n the  Chariot  (1961). As an i n t r o d u c t i o n to these f o u r novels  the  chapter  'Australian  attempts t o d e f i n e White's place i n the  first  t r a d i t i o n ' , t o give an account of h i s l o c a l c r i t i c a l and  t o d i s c u s s i n b r i e f the nature o f h i s c e n t r a l  as an a r t i s t  and  reception,  preoccupations  the forms i n which they are manifested.  An examination of the f o u r novels  r e v e a l s the develop-  ment of White's thought from the time when h i s a r t i s t i c became f u l l y  maturity  e v i d e n t . From The Aunt's Story t o R i d e r s i n the  C h a r i o t White i s concerned above a l l with the b e s e t t i n g prob-  iii lems of the present time: the dilemma o f the i n d i v i d u a l when f a c e d w i t h the break-down of t r a d i t i o n a l modes of thought, p o s s i b i l i t y of meaningful communication, the problem  the  of i d e n -  t i t y i n a world of i n n e r and outer chaos, and the o r i g i n  and  nature of e v i l i n the w o r l d . From a s u b j e c t i v e view of the world seen through the i s o l a t e d consciousness of Theodora Goodman i n The Aunt's S t o r y , to  the massive  f o u r f o l d v i s i o n of R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t . White  has demonstrated  an e v e r - i n c r e a s i n g range of tone and s u b j e c t  matter. He r e c o r d s w i t h deadly accuracy the A u s t r a l i a n 'comedy of manners', and  i n t h i s r e s p e c t he can be s a i d to be the  f i r s t genuine A u s t r a l i a n s a t i r i s t . At the other extreme, White i s capable of r e n d e r i n g the profoundest m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e . Whether s a t i r i s t  or m y s t i c , or mere observer and r e -  corder of the world around him, White has a t h i s d i s p o s a l a l u c i d and p o e t i c s t y l e which, though o f t e n s t a r t l i n g i n i t s unorthodoxy,  i s capable o f conveying and e n l a r g i n g upon the  s u b t l e s t nuance of thought and image. I n h i s s t y l e , and i n h i s broadness  of v i s i o n , l i e White's c h i e f c l a i m s t o e x c e l l e n c e .  T h i s study of the f o u r n o v e l s , i n c h r o n o l o g i c a l order, endeavours t o demonstrate expanding  that u n d e r l y i n g them i s a c o n s t a n t l y  v i s i o n , and t h a t P a t r i c k White i s a s i g n i f i c a n t  and  powerful n o v e l i s t , and worthy of the c l o s e s t c r i t i c a l a t t e n t i o n .  TABLE OF CONTENTS  CHAPTER I . INTRODUCTION I I . THE AUNT'S STORY I I I . THE TREE OF MAN IV. VOSS V. RIDERS IN THE CHARIOT BIBLIOGRAPHY  PAGE 1 24 50 74 101 133  CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION To state that Patrick White i s an Australian novelist i s , perhaps unconsciously, s u f f i c i e n t to r a i s e before c r i t i c and reader a l i k e the whole question of regionalism i n l i t e r a t u r e , to a degree, x a r e l y encountered when the writer under consideration i s , say, English or French or American. The a p e l l a t i o n i n the l a t t e r case s i g n i f i e s that, however much of a maverick he may be, the i n d i v i d u a l writer i s nevertheless working within a body of l i t e r a t u r e which by common consent has gained i t s r e s p e c t a b i l i t y , has j u s t i f i e d i t s e l f on i t s own l i t e r a r y grounds, without recourse to any special pleading, or any narrowing of the c r i t i c a l eye. Whatever i t may be that goes into the making of such a f u l l y - f l e d g e d l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n , and the whole matter i s i n f i n i t e l y complex, the question must be asked: to what extent should c r i t i c i s m of a writer who does not work out of any consolidated t r a d i t i o n d i f f e r from c r i t i c i s m of h i s English, French or American counterpart? To answer t h i s question i s i n r e a l i t y to define the function of c r i t i c i s m . I t has been thought up t i l l f a i r l y recent times that the d i s t i n c t i o n between s c i e n t i f i c and aesthetic laws' l a y i n T  the nature of the r e a l i t i e s each sought to define: science, at least i n i t s pure !  T  form, was concerned with the nature of  2  physical r e a l i t y and the laws of cause and e f f e c t which, when discovered,  could be adapted by man  and used to control his  environment; aesthetics dealt with no physical or. tangible r e a l i t y as such, but with the nature of beauty, i t s perception and expression through created forms. More recently, however, i t i s as though the aesthetic and s c i e n t i f i c d i s c i p l i n e s had somewhat perversely attempted to invade each other's t e r r i t o r i e s . Hume's eighteenth  century scepticism as to the ' d i s c o v e r a b i l i t y '  of any universal physical laws has been vindicated by recent discoveries that the nature of physical phenomena changes with the observation  of them. Meanwhile, and the paradox i s appealing,  the formulators  of aesthetic laws, i n t h e i r awareness of the  intangible nature of the creative act, have sought to put t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n s on an increasingly ' s c i e n t i f i c * basis. The main trends of l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m which have emerged i n t h i s century are a l i k e only i n t h e i r sidestepping of the creative act i t s e l f . H i s t o r i c a l c r i t i c i s m , with i t s focus on the ' t r a d i t i o n ' , has emphasized i n i t s approach to i n d i v i d u a l works of l i t e r a t u r e the t o t a l inherited body of l i t e r a r y achievement, and i t s genesis i n the h i s t o r i c a l r e a l i t i e s of the time. Archetypal  c r i t i c i s m stresses the formal o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n i n the  work of various aspects of universal myth, and regards the writer as the medium through which the myth i s perpetuated. Textual c r i t i c i s m seeks to discover the laws which are set up within the individual work i t s e l f , the sustaining tensions of the work  3 which f i n d t h e i r embodiment i n the inner structure, A  consider-  able amount of c r i t i c i s m u t i l i z e s a l l of these methods i n elucidating and assessing the i n d i v i d u a l achievement, but a l l too frequently i t neglects to take into account the origins and 4nds of the creative act. Only i n the l i g h t of these origins and ends can discussion of, f i r s t , background and  influences,  and second, the inner structure of the work i t s e l f , lead to a genuine understanding of the i n d i v i d u a l writer. With these considerations i n mind, i t becomes obvious that to employ d i f f e r e n t standards of c r i t i c i s m f o r the A u s t r a l ian writer and f o r the European or American writer, i s to a t tempt to l i m i t a r b i t r a r i l y the creative act. The truism that f  a r t knows no boundaries  1  can be better stated by saying that  the fundamental experience of the a r t i s t i s not l i m i t e d by the various modes i n which i t may  be disguised—modes of national-  i t y , language, r e l i g i o n , c u l t u r a l and s o c i a l background, physic a l environment, etc. As these factors serve to describe  and  convey experience, are i n f a c t l o c a l i z a t i o n s of experience, so do t h e i r embodiments i n the various a r t forms serve i d e a l l y as the vehicle f o r the re-creation through the medium of a r t of a t o t a l i t y of experience. As no a r t i s t can encompass a t o t a l i t y of experience, so i s the i d e a l unattainable;  but any assessment  of the worth and achievement of the a r t i s t must ultimately depend on the f e l t extent of the experience he re-creates. I f the experience conveyed i n the work i t s e l f i s no more than a r e -  4 presentation of one of the 'modes of experience described 1  above, then the significance of the work w i l l be l i m i t e d , no matter what refinements of technique may have been brought to bear. The effect which great a r t achieves i n the perceiver, the release from contingency and the widening of experience, i s not achieved when the vehicle or the means i s held to be an end i n itself. I t might be f e l t that the writer who l i v e s and works i n a country cut o f f from the mainstream of c u l t u r a l development and t r y i n g hard to c u l t i v a t e i t s own, w i l l f e e l the need to come to terms with the demands of a new and as yet uninterpreted environment  before venturing to extract from i t a wider  significance. In a country where Christmas i s celebrated i n midsummer and Easter i n autumn, i t might appear that even C h r i s t i a n i t y has declared i t s e l f inapplicable. At a l e s s exalted l e v e l , i t i s often thought that the English language must be handled i n a new and unprecedented fashion. ...mates, s i x o'clock closing, off-course b e t t i n g — these words, each of them, hold attitudes and knowledges that are peculiar to A u s t r a l i a . The Australian writer attempting to see himself i n r e l a t i o n to the world around him must r e f e r to them and must count on h i s audience understanding t h e i r r e a l , accustomed meanings. He needs an audience of fellows, peers—mates.1 Underlying t h i s statement i s the assumption that the European or American writer has already been given a terminology capable of expressing the profoundest problems he might wish to i n v e s t i gate, while the Australian writer, deprived from the start of  5  European culture and i t s American offshoot, must somehow battle along on his own,  shunning the void outside and t a l k i n g to h i s  immediate c i r c l e of friends i n a private terminology somehow reminiscent of the secret codes and nonsense languages of c h i l d hood. These are, of course, precisely the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of hack writing i n any country of the world—the n a r c i s s i s t i c narrowness of v i s i o n , the a n t i r i n t e l l e c t u a l i s m , the curiously inverted ivory tower a t t i t u d e — b u t  are perhaps more of an  im-  pediment to serious writing i n A u s t r a l i a than i n Europe or America. Mixed up with these attitudes i s a fear of betrayal, a fear understandably strong i n a society devoted above a l l to the p r i n c i p l e s of 'mateship , to the forming of an acceptable 1  i d e n t i t y , and to the setting up of b a r r i e r s which a more Olympian eye might f i n d i r r e l e v a n t . I t i s no wonder that most Australian writers were and  are  ...devoid of i n t e r e s t i n the questions with which great l i t e r a t u r e mostly deals: the larger questions of man s fate which r i s e way above contemporary p o l i t i c s or nationalisms or fashionable c l i q u e s . 1  2  To an extent not yet f u l l y recognized, Patrick White has taken the very factors thought to be most indigenous, and universalized them i n his four major novels. He has shown as capable of endl e s s expansion the problem of i d e n t i t y which i s the  besetting  concern of A u s t r a l i a as i t i s of her northern counterpart Canada. For the f i r s t time, an Australian novelist has examined i n a l l i t s aspects the r e a l i t y of his country, and has made of i t at the same time an embodiment of a universal r e a l i t y . In t h i s he i s no d i f f e r e n t from any serious writer who  translates the  6 immediate world of h i s own experience into the forms of l i t e r ature, yet who  so shapes and organizes t h i s experience that the  impressions he records and the forms i n which they are recorded become the transparent symbols of a wider t o t a l i t y . Even by the most subtle use of hindsight, i t i s d i f f i cult to incorporate Patrick White's work into an Australian l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n , f o r such a t r a d i t i o n can hardly be said to e x i s t . Instead, over the past s i x t y years or so, the greater part of the l i t e r a r y output has served to reinforce a set of popular attitudes which, i t i s thought, i f believed i n hard enough, might prove an e f f e c t i v e substitute f o r a r e a l i t y somewhat less accommodating. Thus have sprung up the f r o n t i e r myths of a rough-and-ready egalitarianism, an aggressive independence, a c u l t of masculine superiority enshrined i n the tenets of 'mateship', and a d i s t r u s t of hypocrisy, cant, and anything at a l l which smacks of the effete.3 The devastating exposure of t h i s dream world when set against the r e a l i t i e s of present-day urban A u s t r a l i a i s White's s a t i r i c purpose, but above and beyond t h i s s a t i r i c purpose i s an awareness of the nature of the r e a l i t y which brought the myths into being. This r e a l i t y can be seen embodied subconsciously i n the work of even those writers most ostensibly dedicated to the propagation of the myth. A u s t r a l i a was s e t t l e d i n i t i a l l y f o r the most inglorious of motives. New  South Wales and Van Diemens Land were estab-  lished as penal colonies, l a s t 'asylums' f o r the casualties of  7 the I n d u s t r i a l Revolution, not a l l of whom could be accommodated i n hulks on the Thames. When by the 1840's transportation had v i r t u a l l y ceased, and with i t the worst excesses of corrupt m i l i t a r y r u l e , the society (which White depicts i n Voss) set about consolidating i t s e l f . I t did so, and nowhere so evidently as i n i t s architecture, along the l i n e s of a Georgian England which had long ceased to e x i s t . More important, i t inherited  a t r a d i t i o n of Romantic thought which i n turn informed the developing myth. Even a f t e r the [Romantic] t r a d i t i o n ceased i n England, many of i t s ideas survived here as foundlings unable to give any clear account of t h e i r parentage or o r i g i n s . These ideas have become the staple of a good deal of contemporary Australian writing, though the authors are unaware of the part they o r i g i n a l l y played i n a vanished system of ideas.4 Vincent Buckley, while denying the emergence of these ideas i n any r e a l l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n , elaborates further the nature of the e s s e n t i a l l y Romantic attitudes which were carried over into the early l i t e r a t u r e , and which even now constitute two major, i f unacknowledged, influences i n Australian w r i t i n g . The two chief l i n e s of influence seem to me to be a kind of Utopian humanism or insistence on the soul's r a d i c a l innocence, and a kind of v i t a l i s m , or i n s i s t ence on releasing the basic powers of l i f e . 5 Buckley sees the s t r a i n of utopianism manifested most c l e a r l y , i n the early years of t h i s century, i n the f i c t i o n of Joseph Furphy and the poetry of Bernard O'Dowd, and carrying over into the contemporary period i n the work of Vance Palmer and Eleanor Dark. V i t a l i s m , with which Buckley associates an insistence on  3 primal energy and impulse embodied i n the power of W i l l , appears most s i g n i f i c a n t l y i n the work of Henry Handel Richardson, Norman Lindsay and Christopher Brennan. Whatever the v a l i d i t y of such a d i v i s i o n i n formulating common l i n e s of development, i t becomes evident a f t e r a reading of White's novels that i n them the two strains come together, t h e i r notes sounded over and over again. Utopianism i n White emerges nowhere as mere projected wish f u l f i l m e n t , but rather as an implied b e l i e f that i n t h i s country of space and l i g h t , unencumbered by a long and painful history, exist the conditions f o r an i d e a l society. In The Tree of Man the setting i t s e l f , before being swallowed up by suburban Sydney, has many of the a t t r i b u t e s of Eden, as does the Rhine Towers property i n Voss and the grounds of Xanadu i n Riders i n the Chariot. In many of White's characters i s seen a desire to escape from the contingent world into a purer state of being, where good and e v i l are non-existent and where i n d i vidual i d e n t i t y i s merged i n a larger i d e n t i t y of a l l things. Always a l l i e d to t h i s escape from contingency i s a kind of mystical animism, the presence of a ' s p i r i t ' informing both animate and inanimate worlds and l i n k i n g man with the nature around him. Ultimately, t h i s animism i s the source of the second major s t r a i n , the s t r a i n of 'vitalism'. White sees c l e a r l y that the sustaining source of energy l i e s i n the natural world, and that without reference to t h i s source the soul dries up and ends i n destroying i t s e l f . The c i t y i s always i n White a symbol of s t i f l i n g malignance, of human nature turned against i t s e l f .  9 Urban and suburban l i f e are hideous p e r v e r s i o n s of t h e U t o p i a n  i d e a l , and i n Riders i n the Chariot they become embodiments of malignance and despair. I t i s a further c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of White's 'vitalism* that i t draws no l i n e between inner and outer r e a l i t i e s , and hence the i d e a l state may appear to the divided i n d i v i d u a l as madness, as i n the case of Theodora Goodman i n The Aunt's Story, and many other characters i n a whole g a l l e r y of 'eccentrics' who nevertheless are possessed of cert a i n profound i n s i g h t s . But with White, v i t a l i s m , when a product of pure w i l l , can only lead to destruction, as i n Voss. where the lesson of humility i s learned too l a t e . In White's work, the two s t r a i n s , detachment and transcendence on the one hand, and v i t a l i t y and intense engagement on the other, coalesce successfully only i n rare instances, and always i n the struggle between the two lurks the p o s s i b i l i t y of violence, which i n turn forms a t h i r d major s t r a i n . In t h i s respect too, White can be seen embodying attitudes which underl i e a good deal of Australian l i t e r a t u r e . The canon of our writing presents a facade of mateship, e g a l i t a r i a n democracy, landscape, nationalism, r e a l i s t i c toughness. But always behind the facade looms the fundamental concern of the Australian l i t e r a r y imagination. That concern, marked out by our national o r i g i n s and given d i r e c t i o n by geographical necessity, i s to acknowledge the t e r r o r at the basis of being, to explore i t s uses, and to build defences against i t s dangers.© Violence, murder, blood, s u i c i d e — t h e disorders of the i n d i v i d u a l s e l f when i t cannot reconcile i t s own d i s p a r i t i e s — o c c u r  10  throughout White's work. At times i t even seems that violence as manifested i n nature and the i n d i v i d u a l soul, i t s e l f cons t i t u t e s a p r i n c i p l e of the universe. F i n a l t r a n q u i l l i t y i s a t tained only when the i n d i v i d u a l has escaped from or transcended the world of perpetual change; the whole process of destruction and re-ereation has usually to be enacted within the i n d i v i d u a l before transcendence i s possible. In h i s discarding of the naivetes of the Australian myth, and h i s incorporation into the novels of those deeper forces and attitudes which brought the myth into being, White has so presented the Australian r e a l i t y as to render i t part of a universal experience. Like Joyce's Dublin or Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha, his depiction i n i n f i n i t e d e t a i l of the physical and s o c i a l r e a l i t i e s of the Australian environment goes f a r beyond the r e g i o n a l i s t ' s desire to merely record the a t t r i b u t e s of a p a r t i c u l a r time and place. Working a l l the time through l o c a l manifestations,  White destroys the pseudo-myth and  sets  about r e a l i z i n g the elements of the true myth, the human and super-human r e a l i t i e s which transcend the l i m i t a t i o n s of space and time. In doing t h i s he employs a vast range of  references  not only to the legends and lore of the o r i g i n a l inhabitants of the country, but also to C h r i s t i a n , Hebraic and Greek mythol o g i e s . Nowhere i n his mature work are these references  arbit-  r a r i l y imposed f o r the sake of added 'resonance'; often by the merest suggestion the i n f i n i t e imaginative  p o s s i b i l i t i e s of  11  a given s i t u a t i o n are made apparent to the reader, yet the s i t u a t i o n i t s e l f remains the object of focus, as i t must do i f i t s significance i s to be made c l e a r . *  This conception i s likewise central to the work of the  painter Sidney Nolan, with whom an appropriate comparison can be made. Both Nolan and White stress the universal element i n the l o c a l manifestation. As Ian Turner says i n h i s comparison of the two, The purpose of t h i s seems to be twofold. F i r s t l y , to l e g i t i m i s e the Australian legend by equating i t with C h r i s t i a n and pre-Christian mythology, thus removing i t from the immediate context of r a d i c a l Australian nationalism and the "unsophisticated", impersonal forms of popular culture and sanctifying i t by giving i t depth i n time. Secondly, to persona l i s e the legend by investing i t with private as well as public meaning,7 Through the media of t h e i r respective forms, both White and Nolan stress the loneliness of the human figure i n harsh surroundings; both work i n terms of the intensely r e a l i z e d v i s u a l image which sometimes becomes a repeated motif; both temper a l y r i c a l quality with an almost melodramatic harshness; both exploit the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of violent contrast and s t a r t l i n g juxtaposition; both have a power of i n f i n i t e suggestiveness, of r e a l i t i e s as yet unrealized. In h i s 'Kelly* series of paintings, Nolan imbues with epic p o s s i b i l i t i e s the angular figure of Ned K e l l y , the bushranger 'folk-hero'—and r e c a l l s strongly White's treatment of the explorer Voss. Nolan's 'Leda and the Swan' paintings consist of a series of antipodean variations  12  on the o r i g i n a l Leda myth, r e c a l l i n g White's use of the Chariot of E z e k i e l as the unifying symbol of Riders i n the Chariot, I t i s a minor but t e l l i n g f a c t that both White and Nolan have made t h e i r reputations abroad. The recasting of the Australian experience i n newer, subtler, and more penetrating forms has been objected to by l o c a l p h i l i s t i n e s and aesthetes a l i k e . It would be tiresome and i n the end unprofitable to record i n d e t a i l the general c r i t i c a l treatment White has r e ceived i n A u s t r a l i a . Although the l i t e r a r y journals have had perforce to devote considerable  attention to h i s work, t h i s has  come about l a r g e l y as a r e s u l t of h i s 'discovery' by an admittedly small group of English and American c r i t i c s , and the encouragement he received from Eyre and Spottiswoode i n London and the Viking Press i n New York. The f a c t that, l i k e Nolan and innumerable other Australian a r t i s t s , White has spent  consider-  able time overseas, and thus cannot q u a l i f y f o r the dubious status of 'dinkum Aussie', seems above a l l to rankle with most of the l o c a l c r i t i c s . Many of these have taken most pleasure i n pointing out that White does not r e a l l y know h i s A u s t r a l i a , that he uses i t s settings and people as shaky vehicles f o r a host of exotic abstractions which he neglected  to 'declare' on returning  to h i s homeland. Jack Lindsay, scion of A u s t r a l i a ' s foremost l i t e r a r y family, sums up much of t h i s reaction when he claims that most of White's "anomalous c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s " derive from that f a c t that "his roots l i e i n English culture and society".8  13  What he has done i n the Australian novels i s to take external Australian conditions and d e t a i l s , and to infuse into them abstractions born from his English experience. I f only he could come down to earth i n A u s t r a l i a , the abstractions would become concrete, and his profound sense of what i s t r u l y e v i l i n our world would at l a s t f i n d i t s e f f e c t i v e outlet.9 But t h i s sort of sniping from the s i d e l i n e s , which i n other places descends to a virulence usually reserved f o r p o l i t i c i a n s and homosexuals, i s of no more importance than the usual parochialism encountered i n the popular press of both England and America* But when, as i s often the case, i t i s presented  as  serious c r i t i c i s m i n the pages of the l i t e r a r y journals, i t must be assumed that the values expressed i n much Australian w r i t i n g are exactly those of i t s o f f i c i a l custodians. In one of the comparatively  few counterblasts, John Rorke o f f e r s an  explanation of the current c r i t i c a l myopia. Apart from sheer s t u p i d i t y , there seems no other way of explaining the consistent moral t r i t e n e s s and deadening lack of some sense of contingency which set the bulk of A u s t r a l i a n w r i t i n g apart. This i s part of the price of our righteousness. Where i t i s supposed that there are no serious s p i r i t u a l assumptions l e f t , either to make or to question, one cannot expect a l i t e r a t u r e of high seriousness, high humour, or high dramatic order. Nor have we had i t , and where the major c r i t i c a l t r a d i t i o n , grown up around the w r i t i n g and sharing the common assumptions, has grown used to deluding i t s e l f about the q u a l i t i e s of the l i t e r a t u r e , one cannot perhaps expect i t to deal even competently with an Australian n o v e l i s t of the stature of Patrick White.1G What Rorke describes as the kind of " r i t u a l i s t i c  thinking"  operative i n most c r i t i c i s m of White derives from a  euphoric  complacency, an unwillingness to admit of moral complexities and ambiguities  i n a land blessed with an inordinate amount  14 of sunshine and a convenient,  though now diminishing, remote-  ness from the rest of the world. It i s unusual, wrong and corroding to have an Austr a l i a n n o v e l i s t i n s i s t i n g on matters of high destiny and the i s o l a t i o n of great presumption as being r e l e vant to A u s t r a l i a , with the virtue of mateship and the moral s i m p l i c i t y of the " f a i r go" coming nowhere. And there i s a quality about the Gothic which threatens s o l i d a r i t y . Australians have never before been asked to contemplate vast ambiguities i n t h e i r country or i n t h e i r s o u l s . H In h i s treatment of the "vast ambiguities" White i s most obviously a c h i l d of his time. The diminishing power of p o l i t i c a l and r e l i g i o u s ideologies to explain the nature of twentieth century man,  the authority of the mob  and the p a r a l y s i s of the  i n d i v i d u a l , the claims of r e l a t i v i s m i n the face of a  desperate  need f o r absolutes, the unprecedented b e s t i a l i t i e s i n f l i c t e d by men  on one a n o t h e r — a l l wear the d i s t i n c t i v e hallmarks of the  contemporary experience. White sums up the s p i r i t u a l impasse i n a short passage taken from the end of Riders i n the Chariot. A Jew has been 'crucified* i n a factory yard. I t was possible to practise a l l manner of c r u e l t i e s provided the majority might laugh them o f f as pract i c a l jokes. And there i s almost no tragedy which cannot be given a red nose.12 Here i s sounded the authentic note of e x i s t e n t i a l  anguish,  already explored i n d e t a i l i n the novels of Dostoievsky,  Proust,  Kafka and Greene, i n the philosophies of Kierkegaard, James, Heidegger and Sartre, and finding i t s current and most powerful expression i n the Theater of the Absurd. Anguish comes about because the i n d i v i d u a l i s no longer seen as an i n t e g r a l part of  15  a theoeentric universe, but as the isolated embodiment of an egocentric universe. I t i s thus not possible to regard the d i s p a r i t i e s of the outer world as anything other than a r e f l e c t i o n of the inner state of d i v i s i o n , the a l i e n a t i o n within the s e l f . The  'aboriginal calamity' i s re-enacted  i n d i v i d u a l , who  constantly within the  cannot choose to follow one p a r t i c u l a r course  or another offered by the outer world, because a l l a l t e r n a t i v e s exist within himself. White's tentative solution to the state of i s o l a t i o n and inner d i v i s i o n i s worked out f o r the most part i n terms of acceptance as a means to r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . According to temperament and environment, h i s characters embark on long journeys whose end i s often the a n n i h i l a t i o n of s e l f i n a state of mystical union, which has no center but i s a l l - p e r v a s i v e . With t h e i r intense inner l i v e s and t h e i r r e a l i z a t i o n of the u l timate i m p o s s i b i l i t y of communion with others, i t i s l i t t l e wonder that they are s o l i t a r y f i g u r e s , and that "never i n any of the books i s a s a t i s f a c t o r y human r e l a t i o n s h i p portrayed".13 Only i n Riders i n the Chariot i s communion shown as possible between c e r t a i n i n d i v i d u a l s , but even here White stresses personal, rather than c o l l e c t i v e , f u l f i l m e n t . In h i s acceptance of the mystical p o s s i b i l i t i e s within the s e l f , White avoids the n i h i l i s m and pessimism of much contemporary w r i t i n g . At the same time, h i s depiction of the minutest d e t a i l s and shadings of physical r e a l i t y , h i s e x p l o i t a t i o n of the worlds of sensation and f e e l i n g , provide a counter-balance to h i s abstractions. Between the abstract and the concrete, the tangible and  the  16 intangible, White maintains a steady balance, i n preparation f o r a f i n a l fusion, where a l l complexity disappears. This i s the goal which White's characters seek; i t i s also the end White himself seeks through exercise of his a r t : Certainly the state of s i m p l i c i t y and humility i s the only desirable one f o r a r t i s t or f o r man. While to reach i t may be impossible, to attempt to do so i s imperative.14 I t should be one of the attributes of a writer's style that i t convey with a sense of i n e v i t a b i l i t y the unique purpose which l i e s behind that act of creation. Certain aspects of White's purpose have been discussed; i t remains to demonstrate how h i s style embodies at the same time the sense of ambiguity and complexity, and the "state of s i m p l i c i t y " to which the a r t i s t i s directed. I t has been remarked that, " i n general, those who discover greatness i n White's f i c t i o n , discover i t i n spite of, rather than because of, h i s style".^5 i t i s on t h i s question of s t y l e , as much as on the question of essen t i a l purpose, that White's c r i t i c s seem p a r t i c u l a r l y divided. But style and purpose are so c l o s e l y welded to each other that i t i s impossible to discuss the one without i m p l i c i t reference to the other. When no attention i s paid to the prime purpose of s t y l e , that i s , to convey a unique and personal v i s i o n , then White's s t y l e appears ornate and i n many places pretentious. Many d i s agreeable comments have been made, of which the following i s typical:  17 Although i n a l l the novels there are passages of great power and beauty, much of h i s writing seems crabbed, awkward, and unnecessarily mannered. Even the most adulatory of his c r i t i c s could not deny that the style i s one thing the reader i s never able to forget: to some extent the words seem to stand between the reader and the characters. When White's manner of writing s u i t s h i s subject i t i s possible to be conscious of i t and to enjoy i t . When i t seems forced and pretentious, i t can be extremely i r r i t a t i n g . 1 6  It might be argued that to be conscious of and to enjoy a writer's s t y l e points to c e r t a i n d e f i c i e n c i e s i n both writer and c r i t i c — e i t h e r the s t y l e i s i t s own  end and hence no  longer  a vehicle f o r the conveying of meaning, i n which case the writer i s at f a u l t — o r else the e s s e n t i a l subject matter has gone over the c r i t i c ' s head, i n which case he would be better employed elsewhere. To claim that White's style i s never, i n some places, j a r r i n g and over-indulged  would be r i d i c u l o u s ; but a second  reading of many passages, when the larger intentions have been grasped, shows with abundant c l a r i t y that every word, every image, every d i s l o c a t i o n of syntax, points uniformly to the development of the idea or informing v i s i o n . The anonymous reviewer i n the TLS has claimed that, There are times when he reminds us of the bower-bird of A u s t r a l i a , with h i s b r i l l i a n t display of feathers and the hoard of g l i t t e r i n g and dislocated treasures on display f o r his reader-spouse.17 It should be noted that that the bower-bird i t s e l f i s not b r i l l i a n t but dowdy, but otherwise the image i s appropriate. White himself says,  18 Writing, which had meant the practice of an art by a polished mind i n c i v i l i s e d surroundings, became a struggle to create completely fresh forms out of the rocks and s t i c k s of words.1© The forms created are often at f i r s t glance strangely inapposite. In h i s e f f o r t to create a new rather than a merely derived r e a l i t y , White builds up a complex structure which demands f o r i t s i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y a corresponding e f f o r t i n the mind of the reader to disengage from habitual responses and to become aware of new relationships. One i s not dealing with an a r t i f i c i a l set of mannerisms i n a t r i v i a l sense, but with a peculiar mode of v i s i o n related to deep stresses and dissociations i n the a r t i s t ' s outlook. This comes out i n such formal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s as disturbed balance, with unresolved tensions, a certain " i l l o g i c a l i t y " i n the d i s t r i b u t i o n of emphases, an acceptance of ambiguity, an unstable or "revolving" view of the object, the use of s h i f t i n g planes of r e a l i t y . 1 9 The essence of White's s t y l e i s that i t i s never s t a t i c , but continually s h i f t i n g from one mode of perception to another. By means of d i s j o i n t e d sentences, abrupt interruptions, the use of p a r t i c i p l e s rather than f i n i t e verb forms, an almost baroque profusion of adjectives, deliberate archaisms, and, frequently, the barest possible understatement—by means of a verbal ingenui t y which pays l i t t l e regard to what are commonly accepted as the bounds of taste, White constantly opens up the created forms to the p o s s i b i l i t y of i n f i n i t e expansion. At the end of Voss, the would-be a r t i s t W i l l i e Pringle remarks: "...The blowfly on i t s bed of o f f a l i s but a v a r i a t i o n of the rainbow. Common forms are continually breaking into b r i l l i a n t shapes. I f we w i l l explore them."20  19  This exploration of new  shapes occurs i n White's novels at the  primary l e v e l of s t y l e . White eschews the cult of understatement f o r i t s own  sake, and the verbal paring-down which i s so  evident i n much contemporary w r i t i n g . He writes i n a mannered, e l l i p t i c a l and exalted prose i n an age which has attached i t s e l f to p l a i n ness....Here grammar disintegrates. Images and a l l u s i o n s and symbols tumble along i n the strange t w i l i g h t of unformulated feeling.21 The groping of characters towards l i g h t and c l a r i t y , the fumbl i n g s and the moments of sudden release, are embodied exactly i n a s t y l e which leads always to the new  and the unexpected.  The poetic density of White's writing i s never g r a t u i t o u s — White exerts a control whose prime function i s to assert the presence of the unstated i n the stated. In the process of opening up common forms, as well as i n his preoccupation with states of mystical union, White i s closer to Forster than any other single twentieth  century n o v e l i s t . Although d i f f e r e n t i n  many respects, the e s s e n t i a l s t y l e of both writers could be described adequately as "the l i n g u i s t i c embodiment of a b e l i e f that the world i s dual, that i t i s composed of both s p i r i t  and  matter, which, though separate, are capable of being fused  the  one into the  other".  22  What has been said about Patrick White's s t y l e can be extended to include the form and structure of the novels as a whole. Form, the work of art i n i t s t o t a l perceivable  reality,  and structure, the r e l a t i o n s between i t s component parts, are  20  likewise directed i d e a l l y to the creating and conveying of a r e a l i t y apprehended by the a r t i s t and o b j e c t i f i e d i n h i s chosen form, but ultimately transcending both. The form and structure of each i n d i v i d u a l novel, l i k e the form and structure of a symphony or a painting, are not ends i n themselves. They represent i n f a c t the tangible i l l u s i o n of the intangible r e a l i t y , and i t i s t h i s l a t t e r r e a l i t y which infuses l i f e into the forms, and makes them organic. I t i s true that, without organic form, the work of a r t cannot e x i s t — a n d White's novels can most properly be regarded as organisms. But, as Susanne Langer has pointed out, An organism, which seems to be the most d i s t i n c t and i n d i v i d u a l sort of thing i n the world, i s r e a l l y not a thing at a l l . I t s i n d i v i d u a l , separate, t h i n g - l i k e existence i s a pattern of changes; i t s unity i s a purely functional unity.23 This i s precisely what White's characters come to learn about themselves as "organisms", and why they seek to transcend form. Yet they do so, paradoxically, by exploring present forms and creating new ones—as i f i n discovering every possible combination, they w i l l f i n d revealed the meaning of the whole. White's s t y l e , structure and form are a further embodiment of the same paradox, the paradox of the organism which has no constant i d e n t i t y . The a r t i s t who i s content to mirror external r e a l i t y (and t h i s has f o r too long been regarded as the prime function of the novelist) rather than to explore, question, and transmute i t , w i l l never encounter t h i s paradox. Only when the apprehended r e a l i t y or v i s i o n underlying the work of a r t i s larger than the immediate world of contingent experience does  21  the reader, or the viewer, or the l i s t e n e r , achieve that r e lease to which the a r t i s t and h i s created forms are directed. White's achievement i s what Susanne Langer c a l l s the "impregnation of ordinary r e a l i t y with the significance of created form". ^ At the same time as he has given form to h i s own sub2  j e c t i v e experience, so has he imbued with a perhaps hitherto unnoticed significance the whole of the world around him. A study of the four postwar novels i n sequence w i l l reveal the nature of t h i s s i g n i f i c a n c e .  22  FOOTNOTES  1  Ray Mathew, "Writing and C r i t i c i s m " , Southerly. XX, 3, 1959, p.161.  2  Norman B a r t l e t t . "Winds of Change i n the Australian Novel", The Australian Quarterly. XXXII, 4, I960, p.79.  3 For two recent discussions of the Australian 'myth*, see A.A. P h i l l i p s , The Australian T r a d i t i o n . Melbourne 1958, and Russel Ward. The Australian Legend. Melbourne, 1958. t  ^ Herbert Piper, "The Background of Romantic Thought", Quadrant. I I , 1, 1957/58, p.49. 5  "Utopianism and V i t a l i s m " , Quadrant. I l l , 2, 1959,  p.40.  6 H.P. Heseltine, "Australian Image: The L i t e r a r y Heritage", Mean.lin. XXI, 1, 1962, p.49. 7  "Legend into Myth", Overland. No.23, 1962, p.39. I t i s worth noting that Nolan designed the s t r i k i n g dust-jackets f o r a l l four of White's major novels i n the English e d i t i o n s .  ® Although the f i r s t s i x months of White's l i f e were spent i n England, and he returned f o r schooling at Cheltenham College and Cambridge, Lindsay's claim i s untenable. White's greatgrandfather a r r i v e d i n New South Wales i n 1826. For further biographical d e t a i l s see "A Note on Patrick White", Meanjin. XV, 2, 1956, p.223. 9  "The Alienated Australian I n t e l l e c t u a l " , Mean.iin. XXII, 1,  1963, p.58. 1 0  "Patrick White and the C r i t i c s " , Southerly. XX, 2, 1959,  1 1  I b i d . , p.70.  1 2  Riders i n the Chariot. New York, 1961, p.438.  p.66.  13 Marjorie Barnard, "The Four Novels of Patrick White", Mean.iin.  XV, 2, 1956, p.170.  1  ^ Patrick White, "The Prodigal Son", Australian L e t t e r s . I, 3,  1958, p.39.  1 5  -  -  '  H.P. Heseltine, "Patrick White's Style", Quadrant. VII, 3,  23 1963, p.6l. Heseltine's a r t i c l e does not i n f a c t deal with s t y l e , but rather with t e c h n i q u e — i n p a r t i c u l a r , the recurrent image patterns that are b u i l t up within the novels. 1  6  R.F. Brissenden, "Patrick White", Mean.jin. XVIII, 4, 1959, p.410. -  1  7  "Attempting the I n f i n i t e " , TLS, No.3120, Dec.15, 1961, p.891.  1  8  "The Prodigal Son", p.39. James McAuley, "Literature and the Arts", i n Australian C i v i l i z a t i o n : A-Symposium edited by Peter Coleman. Melbourne,  1962, p.131.  '  20  Voss, London, 1857, p.476.  21 John Thompson, "Australia's White Policy", Australian Letters. I, 3, 1958, p,44. - ' '• ~ "Patrick White's Style", p.72. —  2  2  2  2  ^ Susanne Langer, Problems of Art: Ten Philosophical New York, 1957, p74"7I 4  Ibid., p.73.  Lectures.  CHAPTER I I THE AUNT'S STORY  The Aunt's Story, the f i r s t novel of White's to gain any widespread c r i t i c a l attention, appeared i n 1948, and was written immediately  p r i o r to the author's return to A u s t r a l i a .  The f i r s t section of the novel, "Meroe", i s prefaced by a quot a t i o n from Olive Schreiner's The Story of an A f r i c a n Farm. She thought of the narrowness of the l i m i t s within which a human soul may speak and be understood by i t s nearest of mental kin, of how soon i t reaches that s o l i t a r y land of the i n d i v i d u a l experience, i n which no fellow f o o t f a l l i s ever heard.1 In many ways, the central problem facing Theodora Goodman i s the same as that which faces Schreiner's heroine, Lyndall, whose i n a b i l i t y to communicate with others derives from an intense preoccupation with s e l f , and r e s u l t s i n her destruction. But whereas Lyndall, immediately  before her death, asks f o r a  mirror, Theodora Goodman i s a f r a i d of m i r r o r s — t h e y are an i n t o l e r a b l e assertion of the s e l f from which she must escape. White traces, i n The Aunt's Story, the stages of the journey toward f u l f i l m e n t . As i n The Story of an A f r i c a n Farm, the physical settings are only a small part of the " s o l i t a r y land" of the mind. The i n d i v i d u a l consciousness  encompasses a l l , and  makes no d i s t i n c t i o n s : the r e a l i t y and the i l l u s i o n threaten constantly to become one, and the s e l f struggles i n vain to  25  impose order. No help can be forthcoming from o t h e r s — t h e s o l i tary process goes on u n t i l the i n d i v i d u a l has absorbed or been absorbed by a l l that constitutes the outer r e a l i t y . Throughout The Aunt's Story the inner and outer r e a l i t i e s seek to become i d e n t i f i e d ; no d i s t i n c t l i n e i s drawn between what a c t u a l l y happens to Theodora and what happens within her. Perhaps such d i s t i n c t i o n s are unreal, and d e l i b e r a t e l y intended by White to be so, f o r a l l r e a l i t y i s no more than a perceived r e a l i t y , and the stream of experience which goes to make up the i n d i v i d u a l s e l f makes no d i s t i n c t i o n s between what has i t s own tangible existence and what does not. At the same time, however, that other part of the s e l f which seeks to establ i s h i n t e g r i t y and order within the stream of experience, to wrest from i t significance and s p i r i t u a l or physical pleasure, i s v i t a l l y concerned with i d e n t i t y , i t s own and that of the outside world. In an age only too f a m i l i a r with ' f i n a l solutions', mass graves, and the negation of i n d i v i d u a l worth and  signifi-  cance, the loss of i d e n t i t y i s that experience above a l l to be feared. l e t i d e n t i t y implies f i x i t y and r e s t r i c t i o n , from which the s e l f struggles to escape, and from t h i s struggle emerge tension and c o n f l i c t . Thus, at the deepest l e v e l , a l i e n a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l from the outer ' r e a l i t y ' i s seen as a l i e n a t i o n within the i n d i v i d u a l himself, as he struggles to reconcile that part of the s e l f which seeks to impose i d e n t i t y , constancy, with that part which seeks to escape i t . I t seems as though the  26  deciding factor i n the struggle w i l l be the inner s p i r i t u a l and emotional resources of the i n d i v i d u a l . In the case of Theodora Goodman, the outcome of her journey to the s o l i t a r y land " i n which no fellow f o o t f a l l i s ever heard" i s ambiguous, but i n order f u l l y to understand the nature of the ambiguity, close attention must be paid to the progressive stages of the journey. At the beginning of the "Meroe" section of the novel, Theodora i s introduced immediately prior to her departure f o r Europe. Free at l a s t from the r e s t r i c t i n g influence of her mother, she begins subconsciously to apprehend the dangers i n herent i n such a s i t u a t i o n . I f she l e f t the prospect- of freedom unexplored, i t was l e s s from a sense, of remorse than from not knowing what to do. I t was a state she had never learned to enjoy. Anything more concrete she would have wrapped i n paper and l a i d i n a drawer, knowing at the back of her mind i t was hers, i t was there, something to possess f o r l i f e . But now freedom, the a n t i t h e s i s of s t u f f or glass, possessed Theodora Goodman to the detriment of grief.2 For the moment, however, Theodora does have something concrete to hold on to, f o r "she was at most, but also at l e a s t , an aunt".(5) Her r e l a t i o n s h i p with Lou, the niece who  has no ob-  vious connexion with either of her parents, i s established as important i n t h i s early stage of the novel; Lou, with the " t h i n yellow face", i s obviously Theodora's c h i l d , and the f i r s t i n a number of characters with whom Theodora obtains some sort of s p i r i t u a l i n s i g h t . Where immediate kinship i s tenuous, Theodora and Lou are linked by something at once more tangible and more  27  mystical than blood. While the Parrotts are upstairs performing obsequies to the deceased Mrs Goodman, Theodora takes out the f i l i g r e e b a l l from India and r o l l s i t on the carpet f o r the children. And though i t s hollow sphere was now d i s t o r t e d , and i t s metal green, when r o l l e d across the drawing-room carpet the f i l i g r e e b a l l f i l l e d with a subtle f i r e . (8) At t h i s stage Theodora i s prevailed upon by her niece to t e l l her the story of Meroe. The house and landscape i n which Theodora was born and grew up are imbued with a f e e l i n g of primal and sometimes t e r r i f y i n g antiquity, the a n t i q u i t y of rock, earth and f i r e , the beginning and end of a l l l i f e . Only Theodora and her father sense the power of the black, gaunt h i l l s which are older than A u s t r a l i a and a l l measured time, and which contain within them the mysteries of preservation and destruction.3 No one ever debated why t h e i r f l a t d a i l y prose burst into sudden dark verse with Meroe i n t h e i r mouths. Meroe, they said, i n t h e i r f l a t and dusty l o c a l accents. Although the word smouldered, they were speaking of something as unequivocal as the h i l l s . Only the h i l l s round Meroe had conspired with the name, to darken, or to s p l i t deeper open t h e i r black rock, or to frown with a f i e r c e r , Ethiopian i n t e n s i t y . The h i l l s were Meroe, and Meroe was the black volcanic h i l l s . (12) Immanent i n t h i s landscape i s the other Meroe, " a dead place i n the black country of Ethiopia",(15) a heart of darkness i n a continent which Theodora w i l l never v i s i t , but toward which her journey has already begun.  28" So that from what she saw and sensed, the legendary landscape became a f a c t , and she could not break loose from an expanding t e r r o r . Only i n time the second Meroe became a dim and accepted apprehension l y i n g q u i e t l y at the back of the mind. ( 1 6 ) In defense against t h i s country and i t s t e r r o r s which they but dimly perceive, Mrs Goodman and Fanny, the other daughter, lead l i v e s of containment within four w a l l s — M r s Goodman b i t t e r , c r u e l , withdrawn, and Fanny, bathed i n the pink l i g h t of roses, adept at the pdano and the waltz. Theodora, unable and unwilling to impose on the chaotic depths of Meroe the t i n k l i n g a r t i f i c i a l i t i e s , of s o c i a l grace, moves, i n her ugliness and angularity, ever closer to the center of t h i s disturbing world. A f t e r she had hidden i n the garden, she looked at her hands, that were never moved to do the things that Fanny d i d . But her hands touched, her hands became the shape of the rose, she knew i t i n i t s utmost intimacy. Gr she played the nocturne, as i t was never meant, expressing some angular agony that she knew. She knew the ext i n c t h i l l s and the l i f e they had once l i v e d . (23) ;  She knew that the black h i l l s "had once flowed fire".(52) To V i o l e t Adams, a rather intense c h i l d she meets at boarding school, Theodora confides that she could write a poem about rocks "and f i r e . A r i v e r of f i r e . And a burning house. Gr a bush f i r e " . ( 4 6 ) And l a t e r , to the timid Huntly Glarkson, she expresses a desire to s a i l past a volcano, "preferably at night".(97) Theodora, as White depicts her i n t h i s f i r s t part of the novel, i s on the surface an u n l i k e l y character thus to be linked with the dark and the elemental. She i s self-conscious to the  29 point of misery, aware of her physical unattractiveness, and hopelessly i n a r t i c u l a t e . There i s nothing other-worldly about Theodora—her p h y s i c a l i t y i s perhaps the most e f f e c t i v e counterbalance to Romantic vagueness that White employs. Physically, she i s part of the black and yellow and tawny world around her, and her response to i t i s complete. ...the landscape was more communicative than people t a l k i n g . I t was close, as close as your own thought, which was sometimes heavy and painf u l as stone, sometimes ran l i g h t e r than a wagt a i l , or spurted l i k e a peewit into the a i r . (25) Relationships with other people are battles to be fought; Meroe has taught her, as the Marabar taught Mrs Moore, that conventiona l human relationships are i n the end of no very great importance. But Theodora lacks also the a b i l i t y to face herself: she turns away from the sallow, hated image i n the mirror, to her a green sea at the end of the passage. The depths of her  own  being threaten to engulf her as much as the soughing pines on the north side of the house, ...which poured into the rooms the remnants of a dark green l i g h t , and sometimes i n winter white s p l i n t e r s , and always a s t i r r i n g and murmuring and brooding and vague discontent (13), and which sometimes, when the wind blew, "flung themselves at the windows i n throaty spasms".(15) The elements of violence and destruction, i m p l i c i t i n the trees and rocks and f i r e with which she i s i d e n t i f i e d , are likewise present i n Theodora h e r s e l f , most notably i n her pred i l e c t i o n f o r going out on her own with a r i f l e , despite her  30 mother's pronouncement that " i t was unseemly f o r a g i r l to traipse about the country with a gun".(24) A c r u c i a l incident occurs when she comes upon a hawk a t work on a dead sheep. The l i t t l e hawk tore and paused, tore and paused. Soon he would tear through the wool and maggots and reach the o f f a l i n the b e l l y of the sheep. Theodora looked at the hawk. She could not judge his act, because her eye had contracted, i t was reddish-gold, and her curved face cut the wind. But the act of the hawk, which she watched, hawkl i k e , was a moment of s h r i l l beauty that rose above the endlessness of bones. The red eye spoke of worlds that were b r i e f and f i e r c e . (25) Theodora's momentary i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the hawk i s remembered some considerable time l a t e r , when she i s out shooting with her brother-in-law and the hawk reappears, along with the same t e r r i b l e impulse to destruction* Theodora had begun to laugh. She knew with some fear and pleasure that she had l o s t c o n t r o l . This, she said, i s the red eye. And her v i s i o n tore at the a i r , as i f i t were old wool on a dead sheep. She was as sure as the bones of a hawk i n f l i g h t . Now she took her gun. She took aim, and i t was l i k e aiming at her own red eye....After that Theodora often thought of the l i t t l e hawk she had so d e l i b e r a t e l y shot. I was wrong, she said, but I s h a l l continue to destroy, myself, r i g h t down to the l a s t of my several l i v e s . (63/64) This whole incident, p a r t i c u l a r l y the l a s t sentence, awaits further expansion at the end of the novel, but the theme of violence recurs again i n "Meroe". In Sydney, a f t e r Mr Goodman has died, Theodora and her mother l i v e together i n a state of hatred, l i k e two snakes, each waiting to consume the other. It was the great tragedy of Mrs Goodman's l i f e that she had never done a murder. Her husband had escaped into the ground, and Theodora into silences. So that she s t i l l had to k i l l , and  31 there were moments when she could have k i l l e d h e r s e l f . (89) At t h i s time also occurs the Jack Frost case, i n which a l o c a l pastrycook murders h i s wife and three children, and people f e l t sick, because "they f e l t h i s cakes i n t h e i r stomachs."(91) Theodora's involvement i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r horror becomes e v i dent a l i t t l e l a t e r , when she has brought her mother hot milk, and, on seeing i n her the image of a white, bearded goat, d i s covers that "I have a core of e v i l i n me that i s altogether hateful".(115) But Mrs Goodman has control over a host of faces " l o s t or dead", the past which f o r Theodora was destroyed when her father died, and which cannot be allowed to l i v e on i n t h i s mutual corruption of mother and daughter. Theodora picks up a t h i n knife i n the kitchen. Now she remembered most d i s t i n c t l y the l a s t counsel Jack Frost had held with the meatknife i n the k i t chen.... But t h i s , she trembled, does not cut the knot....It has been close, f e l t Theodora, I have put out my hand and almost touched ddath. She could see i t s eyelashes, pale as a goat's, and the tongue clapping l i k e a b e l l . (117) Theodora r e a l i z e s that "I am g u i l t y of a murder that has not been done", and on the morning of "a v i l e murder i n Cremorne", Mrs Goodman dies. I f one side of Theodora's nature i s negative, inward and destructive, t h i s side i s complemented by other characteri s t i c s , rather more d i f f i c u l t to define. And here one must be wary of dealing i n terms of mere opposites, of reducing the novel to a sort of psychiatric case-book, f o r the fragmentation  32  of personality which overtakes Theodora, and which i s so caref u l l y prepared f o r i n t h i s f i r s t part of the novel, i s not a mere reduction of t h i s personality into mutually exclusive compartments, but an attempt to render a s h i f t i n g and i n f i n i t e l y complex whole. To her brother-in-law, Frank Parrott, Theodora "was always about to ask something that you could not answer".(8)  The urbane Huntly Clarkson experiences much the same  uneasiness, as he forces demands' on her she i s unable to meet. Huntly Glarkson had loved as f a r as he was capable, and f i n i s h e d . Love and Theodora Goodman were, besides, grotesque, unless you were prepared t o explore subtler variations of emotion than he persona l l y would care f o r . (98) Besides her father, who i s never r e a l l y more than a presence, the substance having long ago been destroyed by h i s wife, there are three people who are prepared i n some way t o answer the questions Theodora might pose, who understand the "subtler v a r i - * ations" she o f f e r s , and who i n turn provide Theodora with a glimpse of the possible end of her journey. "The man who came * to dinner" (he i s not otherwise referred to) i s a f o s s i c k e r f o r gold, and a one time f r i e n d of Theodora's father, who turns up unannounced at Meroe seeking food. He i s attended by rather obvious Old Testament echoes, appearing with h i s beard " l i k e a prophet",(33) on a day when Theodora has just missed being struck by l i g h t n i n g . For Theodora, he "made the walls d i s solve".  (34)  "You'll see a l o t of funny things, Theodora Goodman. Y o u ' l l see them because you've eyes to see. And t h e y ' l l break you. But perhaps y o u ' l l survive.  33 No g i r l that w.a^s thrown down by l i g h t n i n g on her twelfth birthday, and then got up again, i s going to be swallowed easy by r i v e r s of fire."(37) He disappears, promising to return, But she knew already that he would not come. In a l l that she d i d not know there was t h i s certainty. She began to f e e l that knowing t h i s might be the answer to many of the mysteries. (38) Thus i s recognized the immanence of absence and negation.^ Later, when Theodora leaves Meroe f o r the f i r s t time and goes to the Miss Spofforths* boarding school, Miss Spofforth, who i s "the eldest, the headmistress,  and the name",(42) and who i s  also "ugly", "strange", and "opaque", t e l l s Theodora, though she does not exactly speak, Probably you w i l l never marry. We are not the kind.... But there i s much that you w i l l experience. You w i l l see c l e a r l y , beyond the bone....Although you w i l l be torn by a l l the agonies of music, you are not creative. You have not the a r t i s t ' s vanity, which i s moved f i n a l l y to express i t s e l f i n objects. But there w i l l be moments of passing a f f e c t i o n , through which the opaque world w i l l become transparent....(56) Miss Spofforth's prediction i s r e a l i z e d i n the figure of the Greek c e l l i s t , Mora'itis, whom Theodora meets and hears i n Sydney. If the man who came to dinner has a f f i n i t i e s with the Old Testament, f i r e and destruction, Morait'is belongs to the lucent, c l a s s i c a l world of music and pure form. "He stood i n the r e f l e c t e d roselight",(101) the l i g h t of Fanny Goodman who played the nocturne to perfection; but, l i k e Theodora, " a l l the time he was thinking with h i s hands, f e e l i n g h i s way from object to object..."(102) M o r a i t i s , however, i s not concerned with the objects he f e e l s , but with the f e e l i n g i t s e l f ; not so much  34 experience as abstractions of experience: he i s a musician. I t i s not necessary to see things, said Mora'itis, i f you know. I t i s l i k e t h i s , she said. And yet, f o r the pure abstract pleasure of knowing, there For Theodora, the abstract pleasure of knowledge i s destroyed by the thing known. For the musician, such i s not the case, "because Mora'itis was  protected by some detachment of uncon-  cern". (104) The man who  came to dinner t o l d Theodora that the  things she saw would break her. Miss Spofforth intimated moments of transparence; but music, the most transparent  of a l l things,  becomes f o r Theodora an agony. Perhaps outside of madness the necessary wedge between f e e l i n g and knowing cannot be driven. Theodora i s trapped within the prison of the s e l f . Like Mora'itis, she stands i n a room with two opposed mirrors i n which the image of the s e l f i s repeated, unchanging, to i n f i n i t y . She has r e a l i z e d that to do violence to her mother, who  i s not  only an unbearable present but also a corruption of the past, would not break down the walls. And other strategies seem l i k e l y to be equally i r r e l e v a n t : At t h i s point, Theodora sometimes said, I should begin to read Gibbon, or f i n d r e l i g i o n , instead of speaking to myself i n my own room. But words, whether written or spoken, were at most f r a i l s l a t bridges over chasms, and Mrs Goodman had never encouraged r e l i g i o n , as she herself was God. So i t w i l l not be by these means, Theodora said, that the great monster S e l f w i l l be destroyed, and that desirable state achieved, which resembles, one would imagine, nothing more than a i r or water. (122) And Theodora i s too inadequate to be either a saint or an  35 a s c e t i c . Rather than attempt to follow any eight-fold way  to  Nirvana, a l l she can do i s l e t time and distance gradually break down the b a r r i e r s . The long journey, usually a search for  the s e l f , i s f o r Theodora an escape from i t . This need f o r escape from the confines of the s e l f i s  constantly emphasized i n l f e r o e " . On a f a i r l y simple l e v e l i t i s underlined i n White's a t t i t u d e towards houses and domesticity, the prisons i n which men unknowingly lock themselves. The who  man  came to dinner explains his vagrancy: It's as good a way of passing your l i f e . So long as i t passes. Put i t i n a house and i t stops, i t stands s t i l l . That's why some take to the mount a i n s , and the others say they're crazy. (37)  V i o l e t Adams, a f t e r marriage, "was  already a prisoner i n a house,  arranging flowers i n a cut-glass bowl".(52) Houses are a showcase f o r pretensions, and Theodora, somewhat grown i n humility, writes to V i o l e t , At f i r s t I thought that I could not l i v e anywhere but at Meroe, and that Mero"e was my bones and breath, but now I begin to suspect that any place i s habitable, depending, of course, on the unimportance of one's l i f e . (SO) No one knew t h i s more than Theodora's father, a l l but l o s t to the world: More a c t u a l even than the dream of a c t u a l i t y was the perpetual odyssey on which George Goodman was embarked, on which the purple water swelled beneath the keel, r i s i n g and f a l l i n g l i k e the wind i n pines on the blue shores of Ithaca. (59) But Ithaca i s treacherous, and the v i r t u e s of Penelope somewhat dubious. Mrs Goodman's world  36 ...had always been enclosed by walls, her Ithaca, and here she would have kept the suitors at bay, not through love and patience, but with suitable conversation and a s t i c k . (82; Immediately p r i o r to her departure f o r Sydney, Theodora i s afforded a l a s t glimpse of Meroe and her childhood i n the form of Pearl Brawne, once a domestic at Meroe, now a drunken whore. Pearl suddenly remembers Mr Goodman, but Theodora "would have blocked her ears with wax.  She could not bear to face the  islands from which Pearl sang".  (121)  The second section of the novel, "Jardin Exotique", presents on the surface an abrupt contrast to "Meroe". Some explanation of t h i s section i s afforded? by the quotation from Henry M i l l e r which precedes i t : Henceforward we walk s p l i t into myriad fragments, l i k e an insect with a hundred feet, a centipede with s o f t - s t i r r i n g feet that drinks i n the atmosphere; we walk with sensitive filaments that drink a v i d l y of past and future, and a l l things melt into music and sorrow; we walk against a united world, asserting our dividedness. A l l things, as we walk, s p l i t t i n g with us into a myriad iridescent fragments, the great fragmentation of maturity.5 The apparent d i s s o l u t i o n of the novel at t h i s stage into fantasy and h a l l u c i n a t i o n r e f l e c t s exactly the "great  fragmentation  of maturity", the second major stage of Theodora's evolution, and the inevitable process of reorganization which must be undergone by the i n d i v i d u a l who  seeks f i n a l order and unity.  At the Hotel du Midi, i n the south of France, the walls of i d e n t i t y and the s e l f are breached. As Theodora s i t s waiting at the reception desk, she looks at the l a b e l s on her luggage,  37  "at a l l those places to which apparently she had been",(129) but of which the reader learns nothing. In "Jardin Exotique" the labels of i d e n t i t y have been torn o f f and strewn i n a hundred  different directions. Unhappily there i s a complete lack of a r t i s t i c r e s t r a i n t i n Patrick White's treatment of the thought processes of t h i s maiden aunt who goes mad. He wants us to get behind the aunt's mind and share her madness with her. However honestly you t r y , you become p o s i t i v e l y fatigued with the effort.©  More reassuringly, C e c i l Hadgraft writes that the Hotel du Midi i s "a picture of a separate community, a l l deranged, who  do not  i n v i t e you to become deranged l i k e them, but merely show you why they are l i k e t h a t " . 7 In "Meroe" the reader i s guided along f a i r l y safe l i n e s . Places and people do exist, and events do d e f i n i t e l y occur which follow chronologically some causal pattern. In "Jardin Exotique", the r e a l i t y of characters i n a time-space order tends frequently to disappear: " i t was  obvious  now that clocks were keeping another time".(145) What seems to be a picture of pre-war Europe i n microcosm, a t i n y world of disarrayed ex-patriates unaware of the holocaust about to descend, tends to turn into merely a subjective chaos, rags and wisps of Theodora's disordered imagination. But i f t h i s process of reordering i s chaotic, i t i s also a process of expansion, and with Theodora's consciousness always at the center of the novel, what was c a r e f u l l y exteriorized i n the f i r s t part i s now encompassed and brought wholly within. Theodora's i d e n t i t y merges with the i d e n t i t i e s of others,  38  whether they actually exist or not (White does not show  "why  they are l i k e that"---causal r e a l i t y as a touchstone here i s next to u s e l e s s ) . What i s important to note i s that major themes and motifs established i n "Meroe" are not only maintained but i n t e n s i f i e d i n "Jardin Exotique". The s t r i k i n g differences i n tone and structure which cause one bewildered c r i t i c to ask: "Who  would have thought that a theme so t r a g i c could suddenly  turn into exquisite comedy on the shores of the Mediterranean?" " 0  these differences, though admittedly unusual i n the novel form, effect no harmful d i s l o c a t i o n i n the underlying movement of The Aunt's Story, but rather enhance i t . Theodora, imposed upon by the outside world i n "Meroe", conditioned and shaped by i t to the point of committing s p i r i t u a l murder, i s now herself the shaping agent, imposing upon the world her own image of i t . That t h i s image i s dark and troubled i s not surprising, considering the distance Theodora has come since Meroe, at least the Meroe of Fanny Goodman and the r o s e l i g h t . But the other Meroe, of black volcanic h i l l s and subterranean energies, p e r s i s t s , to t e r r i f y and d i s t r a c t , i n the forms of the j a r d i n exotique. The pines of Meroe, which threatened i n whispers to enter into the house i t s e l f , s t i l l remained on the periphery of consciousness; but here the consciousness has been invaded, and at the center of the rambling passages and c e l l - l i k e rooms of the Hotel du Midi, the dry spiky forms of c a c t i and other exotica have taken root. This a r i d hortus inclosus. with i t s  39  undertones of sexuality and s t e r i l i t y , brings together and o b j e c t i f i e s i n a single complex image the subconscious fant a s i e s of the ugly, angular woman who was  "also an aunt once".  Theodora i s faced with her own nakedness, the r e f l e c t i o n i n a mirror from which she can no longer turn. One of White's most powerful images, the .jardin exotique controls and dominates the second part of the novel, and what would perhaps otherwise be merely sensational and voyeuristic i s here p e r f e c t l y o b j e c t i f i e d and divested of a l l crudity. The garden was completely s t a t i c , r i g i d , the equation of a garden. Slugs linked i t s symbols with ribbons of s i l v e r , t h e i r timid l i f e caref u l l y avoiding i t s spines....Walking slowly, i n her large and unfashionable hat, she began to be a f r a i d she had returned to where she had begun, the paths of the garden were the same labyrinth, the cactus limbs the same aching stone. Only i n the .jardin exotique. because silence had been i n t e n s i f i e d , and extraneous objects considerably reduced, thoughts would f a l l more loudly, and the soul, l e f t with l i t t l e to hide behind, must forsake i t s queer opaque manner of l i f e and come out into the open. (134) Here i t i s possible:/ to achieve the moments of transparence intimated by Miss Spofforth, and which, as the headmistress knew, also have the power to destroy the i d e n t i t i e s of those who are s o l i t a r y and i n a r t i c u l a t e . The ambivalence  of t h i s pro-  cess i s such that whatever other i d e n t i t i e s Theodora might assume, the .jardin exotique remains at the center, i t s e l f expanding,  destroying and c l a r i f y i n g , though the r e s u l t of t h i s  c l a r i f i c a t i o n i s as yet obscure. " I I y a tou.iours l e .jardin". said l e p e t i t . There was. She had forgotten....Now she saw i t was, i n f a c t ,  40 the garden that prevailed, i t s forms had swelled and multiplied, i t s dry, paper hands were pressed against the windows of the s a l l e a manger, perhaps i t had already started to digest the body of the somnolent h o t e l . (155) In a l l t h i s period of f l u x , where destruction and expansion are processes d i f f i c u l t to distinguish from each other, Theodora, v i c t i m of time which "continued to disintegrate into a painful, personal music, of which the themes were i n t e r twined", (160) longs f o r permanence. Now at the approach of middle age and knowledge, she regretted the closed stones, the f o s s i l s h e l l s of Meroe. (160) But even the permanence of the "closed stones" i s found to be i l l u s o r y : the same volcanic power underlying the h i l l s of Meroe here causes an earthquake, during which the occupants of the hotel are thrown out on to the beach, and Theodora sees across the water a black island move. As in"Meroe", the threat of v i o lence and unrest i s again a recurring theme i n "Jardin Exotique". There are references to Spain and the immanent collapse of Europe into war, but f o r Theodora t h i s i s a l l r e a l i z e d i n a semiimaginary past, where her most persistent a l t e r ego i s Ludmilla, General Sokolnikov's "sour" and "yellow" s i s t e r . The General, Ludmilla, Varvara, Anna Stepanovna, creatures of either the General's of Theodora's i m a g i n a t i o n — i t i s impossible to t e l l  -  which—are nevertheless engaged i n f i g h t i n g o f f the Revolution; but i n the end the noble Russian estate i s destroyed, and the l i t t l e p a v i l i o n where they a l l walked and intrigued i s consumed  41 by f i r e . A l l that i s l e f t of the catastrophe i s the gross Gene r a l , f o r whom Theodora i s a conscience. "Do not accuse me Ludm i l l a . I t i s f a r too late".(194) But the General i s also Theodora's conscience. Ludmilla, when the revolution f i n a l l y occurredj would not accept the implications of the mob that faced her: "You could never accept f a t a l i t y , not even when they showed you the gun". (160) Theodora of course has experienced destruction by a r i f l e before. S i m i l a r l y , the General suggests to the memory of h i s second wife Edith that she k i l l e d with a knife Mrs Arbuthnot, "an old lady whom she 'tyrannized".(174) Violence and the past are not exorcized u n t i l the Hotel du Midi f i n a l l y burns to the ground i n a l a s t , consummate act of f i r e . While everyone else i s h y s t e r i c a l , Theodora's gestures were wood. She watched the r e v i v a l of roses, how they glowed, glowing and blowing l i k e great clusters of garnets on the l i v e hedge. (240) The ghosts of Fanny i n the roselight and Mrs Goodman twisting her garnet rings, r i s e up i n the l a s t moment of destruction. But before t h i s , i n an i n c r e d i b l y complex sequence of conversations and events, other situations from the past r i s e to the surface and attach themselves to various of Theodora's projections: L i e s e l o t t e , the German painter, takes a knife and slashes her paintings to ribbons; the young Greek g i r l , Katina Pavlou, i s a curious fusion of Lou, Fanny Goodman, V i o l e t Adams and Pearl Brawne (whose seduction among the nettles at Meroe  42 Theodora witnessed, and which i s now to be re-enacted despite Theodora's vain attempts to prevent i t ) ; the American Mrs Rapa l l o invents f o r herself a daughter, a dazzling creature c a l l e d the Principessa, who again i s a fusion of Fanny Goodman and the niece Lou. The General's words are Theodora's own: Very few people have the capacity f o r creating l i f e , for being. But you cannot deny, Ludmilla, that one moment of my existence i s intensely varied, i n tensely moving. (162) But the General i s a self-proclaimed a r t i s t . For Theodora, who can f i n d no release i n her i l l u s o r y 'creations', The landscape was a state of interminable being, hope and despair devouring and disgorging endl e s s l y , and the faces, whether Katina Pavlou, or Soloknikov, or Mrs Rapallo...only s l i g h t l y d i f ferent aspects of the same state. (174) Theodora says desperately,  " I t i s most important to believe that  r e l a t i o n s do exist",(181) but r e l a t i o n s can only exist where e n t i t i e s inhabit f i x e d and determinable positions. The .jardin exotique stands as the central image i n t h i s second section of the novel, serving much the same function as the black h i l l s of Meroe i n the f i r s t , to o b j e c t i f y the vast and perhaps malignant forces which combine to break down the b a r r i e r s of i n d i v i d u a l i d e n t i t y . However, i n "Jardin Exotique" another image of considerable importance i s the nautilus, a f r a g i l e , translucent thing created by the sea, coveted by i n d i viduals, and destroyed  f i n a l l y by grasping, fumbling hands. The  nautilus i s borne i n by Mrs Rapallo l i k e some g r a i l from the sea:  43 Though her composition was intended to be s t a t i c , sometimes Mrs Rapallb advanced, as now. Her s t i f f magenta picked contemptuously at the f l u f f on the s a l l e a manger carpet....But most marvellous was the nautilus that she h a l f carried i n her l e f t hand, h a l f supported on her encrusted bosom. Moored, the s h e l l f l o a t e d , you might say, i n i t s own opalescent r i g h t . (149) To General Sokolnikov, who  f o r years has coveted the treasure  from the other side of the shop window, Mrs Rapallo announces: "...And I bought, yes, Alyosha Sergei, I bought my nautilus, of course I bought i t . There i t was. In f u l l s a i l . I knew I had never seen perfection, never before, not even as a g i r l . And now i t i s mine. My beauty. I have waited a l l my l i f e " . (150) Later, the General prevails upon h i s "excellent Ludmilla" to s t e a l the nautilus from Mrs Rapallo's room, and Theodora "began to be obsessed by the same obsession as Sokolnikov, to hold the nautilus, to hold, i f i t i s ever possible, to hold".(204) In stealth, she takes the precious object, but already she r e a l i z e s that "the nautilus i s made to break",(207)  and when a furious  Mrs Rapallo a r r i v e s on the scene, Theodora i s helpless befere her responsibility. She could not explain. She could explain nothing, l e a s t of a l l her several l i v e s . She could not explain that where there i s more than one i t i s inevitable always to betray. (207) The nautilus becomes "a desperate thing of hands",(208) and i s smashed; the i d e a l , the abstracted beauty, i s betrayed by the need to f e e l and to possess. Thus the p o s s i b i l i t y , by the end of Theodora's journey, of possessing something whole, something of complete i n t e g r i t y , i s destroyed, and destroyed f o r a very  44 simple reason. Theodora has created her own world, and assumed other i d e n t i t i e s , but she i s helpless before the power with which she has invested t h i s world, the power i n the General  and  Mrs Rapallo to crush the nautilus. As the General kindly explains, "You  can also create the i l l u s i o n of other people,  once created, they choose t h e i r own  but  realities".(231)  When your l i f e i s most r e a l , to me you are mad.9 The second quotation from Olive Schreiner which White places at the beginning of "Holstius", the t h i r d and f i n a l section of the novel, indicates a concept of madness which i s to recur many times i n the }.ater novels, and which might be defined as an acceptance of the proposition that the disorganized mind i s the only mind capable of fusing the inner and outer r e a l i t i e s . i n d i v i d u a l most commonly thought to be mad  The  i s the i n d i v i d u a l  who  has abstracted himself from the world of causal relationships, and perceives no laws but those of his own being, into which a l l else i s assimilated. The nautilus broken, the hotel burnt, the i l l u s i o n s exposed, Theodora moves to the end of her journey. In "Holstius" she gets o f f a t r a i n somewhere i n the middle of America, and follows a road through country reminiscent of Meroe u n t i l she reaches the farm of the Johnsons. At t h i s stage, "Theodora Goodman suggested that she had retreated into her own  distance  and did not intend to come out".(249) She has discovered that "although she was  insured against several acts of violence,  45 there was ultimately no safeguard against the violence of pers o n a l i t y " •(254) The violence of "Jardin Exotique" spent, i n an act either of t o t a l a s s i m i l a t i o n or t o t a l abnegation, she has destroyed her t i c k e t s home to A u s t r a l i a , and introduced herself to the Johnsons as Miss Pilkington. This way perhaps she came a l i t t l e closer to humility, to anonymity, to pureness of being.  (263)  Not even the b r i e f but intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p she experiences with the boy Zack can keep her at the Johnsons' house, however — a n orange marble clock on the mantelpiece has i d e n t i f i e d the house with the temporal world of f l u x , from which she must f i n a l l y escape. The road leads on, and Theodora at l a s t a r r i v e s at a clearing, i n which stands a deserted house which " i n no way suggested that i t might be carried away by the passions of f i r e " , ( 2 6 8 ) and i n which "there were no clocks", but only "a time of l i g h t and darkness".(269) In t h i s house, where d i s t i n c t i o n s are not observed, Theodora attempts to achieve permanence. At t h i s stage Holstius a r r i v e s . A figure of calculated ambiguity, Holstius might be regarded as a reincarnation of George Goodman and a s p i r i t u a l return of Theodora to Meroe; or he might be the ultimate d i s t i l l a t i o n of a l l Theodora's varied i d e n t i t i e s , a composite projection of a l l her fantasies; or he might be the f i n a l conf r o n t a t i o n of Theodora with the t r u t h of her own existence; he might even be her f i n a l betrayer and destroyer. No one of these « interpretations i s mutually exclusive of the others: Holstius  46 sums up a l l aspects of Theodora's being, and i s himself the ultimate disengagement she has been seeking. What distinguishes Holstius from a l l the other creations of Theodora's mind i s h i s quiet and inevitable s o l i d i t y , which Theodora herself cannot r e a l l y believe i n . Just as the mind used and disposed of the figments of Mrs Rapallo, and Katina Pavlou, and Sokolnikov. And now Holstius. She watched the rough texture of his coat f o r the f i r s t indications of decay. (271) Whereas Mrs Rapallo and the others appeared and disappeared i n a formless d i f f u s i o n , Holstius i s continually present u n t i l such time as Theodora no longer needs him, when he has reduced and refined Theodora to a state of pure and exclusive p o l a r i t y , the concentrated tension of which i s new to her: "Why", she asked, "am I to be subjected to these tortures? I have reached a stage where they are not bearable". (271) Holstius' words to Theodora following t h i s are f o r her a f i n a l resolution of her agony, and constitute perhaps the single most important statement i n the novel. "You cannot reconcile joy and sorrow", Holstius said. "Or f l e s h and marble, or i l l u s i o n and r e a l i t y , or l i f e and death. For t h i s reason, Theodora Goodman, you must accept. And you have already found that one constantly deludes the other into taking fresh shapes, so that there i s sometimes l i t t l e to choose between the r e a l i t y of i l l u s i o n and the i l l u s i o n of r e a l i t y . Each of your l i v e s i s evidence of t h i s " . (272) Holstius i s no deus ex machina; he himself provides no f i n a l solution, no mystical v i s i o n , no ultimate union with a Design or a Purpose. Theodora i s simply made aware that the state of  47 being i s a state of tensions, d i s p a r i t i e s , i r r e c o n c i l a b l e s , which she i n her madness i s f i n a l l y taught to accept. While r e s i s t i n g the idea that one thing i s i r r e c o n c i l a b l e with another, the s e l f i s divided; acceptance of t h i s i r r e c o n c i l a b i l i t y i s essential to serenity, the pure state that Theodora has at l a s t achieved, at the expense of her own i d e n t i t y , by the end of her journey. Theodora, i n the c l i n i c a l sense, i s probably quite mad. Her acceptance of the interdependence of i l l u s i o n and r e a l i t y means that the d i s t i n c t i o n s between them that sanity postulates and then leans on are to her no longer meaningful. She i s baptized by water into a new v i s i o n . The water made her laugh. She looked at the world with eyes blurred by water, but a world curiously pure, expectant, undistorted. (273) In t h i s v i s i o n Holstius i s l e f t behind. The i r r e c o n c i l a b l e s , once accepted, become complements. Gut of the rusted t i n welled the brown c i r c l e s of perpetual water, s t i r r i n g with great gentleness the eternal complement of skeleton and spawn. (279) Now she can accept her other l i v e s , which "entered into each other, so that the impulse f o r music i n Katina Pavlou's hands, and the steamy exasperation of Sokolnikov, and Mrs Rapallo's baroque and narcotized despair were the same and understandable". (278) She accepts the spikes of the t h i s t l e , with t h e i r a s s o c i ations of sexual deprivation; more important, she can accept "the pathetic presumption of the white room"(279) to which she i s l e d by Doctor Rafferty, a f t e r the f i n a l encounter with "those who prescribe the reasonable life".(278)  In t h i s l a s t  48 scene of the novel, Theodora observes from outside her three captors, who  are arranging within the four walls of the aban-  doned house her w i l l i n g  abduction.  So Theodora Goodman took her hat and put i t on her head, as i t was suggested she should do. Her face was long and yellow under the great black hat. The hat sat straight, but the doubtful rose trembled and g l i t t e r e d , leading a l i f e of i t s own. (281)  49  FOOTNOTES London, 1929, p.241. The Aunt's Story, Compass Books E d i t i o n , New York, 1962, p.4. O r i g i n a l l y published by the Viking Press, New York, 1948. A l l subsequent page references are to the Compass e d i t i o n . Their function as a central image i n The Aunt's Story r e c a l l s Forster's use of the Marabar H i l l s i n A Passage to India, and they are described i n a remarkably similar way. Again A Passage to India i s brought to mind—Godbole knows that Krishna never comes, yet he i s serene i n t h i s knowledge. The Aunt's Story, p. 127. Colin Roderick, An Introduction to Australian F i c t i o n , London, 1950, p.146. Australian L i t e r a t u r e : A C r i t i c a l Account to 1955. London, I960, p.242.. James Stern, "Patrick White: The Country of the Mind", The London Magazine, V, 6, 1958, p.50. Schreiner, p.115.  CHAPTER I I I THE TREE OF  In 1943,  MAN  having completed The Aunt's Story, White  returned to A u s t r a l i a a f t e r an absence of some sixteen years. In 1958  he writes of his homecoming:  In a l l directions stretched the Great Australian Emptiness, i n which the mind i s the least of possessions, i n which the r i c h man i s the important man, i n which the schoolmaster and the j o u r n a l i s t rule what i n t e l l e c t u a l roost there is...and the march of material ugliness does not raise a quiver from the average nerves.1 It was White's task to attempt to f i l l the "Emptiness", and to come to terms with the bourgeois p h i l i s t i n i s m , the material ugliness, the country i t s e l f . The Tree of Man, eight years' work, appeared i n 1956,  the result of  and met with wide c r i t i c a l  acclaim i n Great B r i t a i n and the United States, even venturing into American b e s t - s e l l e r l i s t s . I t i s not d i f f i c u l t to explain what i n t h i s novel appears to be a r a d i c a l departure i n a l l ways from the techniques and themes of The Aunt's Story. White has turned away from the closed world of one individual's mind to a lengthy and sustained exploration of two main characters and a host of minor ones, together with the society they evolve and the forces that control them. Compared with the conciseness and brevity of The Aunt's Story. The Tree of Man  i s long and  51 rambling, and without the complexity of image and the ambiguity of idea which characterizes the e a r l i e r novel. The setting of The Aunt's Story i s "the country of the mind"; that of The Tree of Man i s quite d e f i n i t e l y A u s t r a l i a — a t r a c t of straggling bushland which over f i f t y years or so becomes slowly swallowed up by the metropolis of Sydney. The style i s l e s s convolute and less obscure, and i s directed towards an 'epic s i m p l i c i t y ' . In short, White "turns away from the strange, the curious, the accidental, the'pressure of abstract ideas, to the elementals". Two words used frequently by reviewers i n describing The Tree of Man are 'epic' and 'elemental'—in the context of the novel, vaguenesses at best, and surely meaningless when contrasted, as i n the above quotation, with "the strange, the curious, the accidental". The contrast here set up seems to be one between the subjective v i s i o n , as i s the case with The Aunt's Story, and the broader, l e s s selective v i s i o n which animates The Tree of Man,  but such a contrast suggests i t s e l f  only when means rather than ends are taken into account. Technically, the two novels present sharp contrasts, as i n style and point of view—not  because the underlying v i s i o n s of  the two novels are opposed, but because the same v i s i o n i s being approached from another d i r e c t i o n , i n order to be further c l a r i f i e d . The problems posed i n The Aunt's Story center round the i n t e g r i t y of the s e l f and the nature of i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to the outside world; the vehicle f o r White's exploration of  52  these problems i s a singularly imaginative, and at the end, deranged, woman, and the story ends with her complete retreat from objective r e a l i t y . In The Tree of Man the problems are the same, but the vehicle has changed: i n t h i s ease the main characters are two quite ordinary people, who,  i t i s clear, w i l l not  suffer Theodora's derangement, but who w i l l enable White to pursue h i s question as to whether the s e l f i s indeed an i s o lated entity, or whether i t cannot exist i n a s o l i t a r y state, but must seek communion with others l i k e i t . The same problems of the s e l f , the d i s t i n c t i o n s between the r e a l i t y and the dream, the inevitable corruption by time, the p o s s i b i l i t y of transcendence—these  problems occupy White as much i n The Tree of Man  as  i n the e a r l i e r novel, and are just as central to i t . I t i s the foreground that d i f f e r s . Stan Parker carves himself a home out of the wilderness, and brings to i t h i s wife Amy.  They raise two children, both of  whom bring disappointment and m o r t i f i c a t i o n . They experience the calamities of flood, fireand drought. They d r i f t apart--Stan goes to the war, Amy  commits casual adultery. They come together  again; they grow old and d i e . I f these are the  'elementals*—  loneliness, hardship, sorrow, joy, death—then they are equally present i n The Aunt's Story. The difference l i e s i n the fact that Theodora i s her own world, and the d i f f e r e n t patterns that emerge are those of her own mind and imagination; i n The Tree of Man these 'elementals' are given t h e i r embodiment i n a change-  53 l e s s yet ever changing setting, an outer world whose exterior r e a l i t y regulates to a great extent the i n t e r i o r r e a l i t y , and with which the i n d i v i d u a l must come to terms. Such, i n e f f e c t , are the q u a l i t i e s of much epic and f r o n t i e r l i t e r a t u r e — t h e omnipresence of the land, the elements, the external world—the immutable forces which must be fought and l i v e d with, i f the i n d i v i d u a l i s to remain persuaded  of the significance of h i s  own existence. Otherwise madness w i l l r e s u l t — n o t the f i n a l , clear v i s i o n of Theodora Goodman, but the sort of madness which a f f l i c t s the two Parker children, the debased and i n f e r i o r visions of r e a l i t y which are born of resentment and f e a r . Central to The Tree of Man i s an underlying animism. To a certain extent t h i s quality informs a l l of White's work, but i t i s strongest here, and i t explains perhaps why t h i s novel was so popular i n the United States, where the myth of the f r o n t i e r has persisted with unusual strength. The idea o£ a vast, v i r g i n land, of men h e r o i c a l l y wresting from i t t h e i r l i v i n g , c a r r i e s an appeal not only i n A u s t r a l i a , but i n any country where the predominant s h i f t has been from r u r a l to urban l i f e . Inherent i n the conception of the f r o n t i e r i s a b e l i e f i n the pre-eminence of man, man as an i n d i v i d u a l f i g h t i n g with determination tempered with stoicism to e s t a b l i s h himself, and man as a s o c i a l unit, linked to h i s fellow men by a simple, rigorous, and usually Christian code of values. There may or may not be any empirical j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r such a mystique, but to apply i t s  54 p r i n c i p l e s to The Tree of Man,  as most reviewers and c r i t i c s  have done, i s to simplify dangerously the meaning of White's animism and h i s b e l i e f i n the sustaining role of nature i n the i n d i v i d u a l l i f e . To begin with, there i s no place i n White's world f o r moral s i m p l i c i t y , at least i n so f a r as t h i s simplic i t y consists of unthinking adherence to any r i g i d d i s t i n c t i o n s between good and e v i l . His concern throughout the novel i s f o r the i n d i v i d u a l consciousness and not the group consciousness. The moral issues of the novel stem from the individual's attempt to reconcile with himself rather than with the outer world. In marked contrast to the f r o n t i e r myth, the i n d i v i d u a l , rather than struggling with and f i n a l l y dominating the environment, i s f a r more frequently reduced to an i n e f f e c t u a l and a n t - l i k e stature. F i n a l l y , of course, D u r i l g a i i s f a r too close to Sydney to be any sort of r e a l f r o n t i e r , and on t h i s proximity depends much of the basic rhythm of The Tree of Man.  Floods and  fires  and other natural disasters play a large part i n the novel, and these do indeed impart an 'elemental' q u a l i t y — b u t the focus i s always on the i n d i v i d u a l characters, so much so that frequently the disaster at hand seems r e a l l y to be a projection of the individual's own inner c r i s i s . This r e l a t i o n s h i p between inner and outer worlds gives strength and significance to what i n Australian l i t e r a t u r e (and other f r o n t i e r l i t e r a t u r e ) i s too often mere sentimental effusion and naive  nature-worship.  White's animism i s no simple God-in-Nature,  but a b e l i e f  55 i n the tremendous power i n nature and the natural forms not only to  order and elevate the conscious l i f e , but frequently to t e r r i -  f y and reduce i t . As was apparent i n The Aunt's Story, the forms of nature are never stable: they constantly threaten to break open and dissolve, to overwhelm and to divide into an incomprehensible multitude of sensations. By these forms the conscious l i f e becomes i n f i n i t e l y meaningful, because capable of proj e c t i o n i n a v i r t u a l l y l i m i t l e s s outer world. The c i t y , with i t s constant nightmarish q u a l i t i e s , can provide no meaningful counterpart to the inner l i f e because i t i s a sort of incestuous progeny, destructive of i t s e l f and of those who create i t and l i v e i n i t . As Housman wrote, "The tree of man was never quiet",3 and White's use of t h i s l i n e f o r h i s t i t l e , and the presence of trees throughout the novel, but most p a r t i c u l a r l y at the beginning and end, indicate h i s b e l i e f i n the continuity of human l i f e when placed i n i t s natural context, that of things which themselves are born and are destroyed. Ray Mathew states that The Australian writer's emphasis on the bush i s part of h i s search f o r s i m p l i c i t y : the symbolism i s so obvious—man alone with woman, or stock, on earth, on a great stage under the sun's spotlight.4 White i s uncharacteristic of most Australian writers i n h i s careful avoidance of the obvious and i n h i s r e f u s a l to reduce an already dangerously over-used setting to a vehicle f o r naive wish-fulfilment. It would be misleading, however, to regard the natural symbolism i n The Tree of Man as the clue to the f i n a l meaning  56 of the novel. This natural symbolism, intimately connected with White's animistic-impressionistic descriptive techniques, should be divorced from the more ' l i t e r a r y  1  symbolism of the other  novels. The d i v i d i n g l i n e here i s necessarily i n d i s t i n c t , but generally speaking the symbolism i n the other novels i s of basic kinds--either some ordinary, hitherto  two  undistinguished  object or event i s given a heightened significance i n terms of the novel's development, or certain objects or events have recognizable  p a r a l l e l s with extraneous bodies of thought or  invention (mythology, r e l i g i o n , e t c . ) . These two methods, the single heightened image or image pattern, and the allegory which brings to the novel added significance from outside, used i n The Tree of Man,  are  but to a l e s s e r degree than the 'natu-  r a l ' symbolism, the sort of symbolism which i s inherent i n a l l natural things, and which r e s i s t s formalization by the  intellect.  On one l e v e l , t h i s i s the symbolism of "sermons i n stones"; Mary McCarthy defines i t i n s t r u c t u r a l terms: I f the story does not contradict the outline, overrun the pattern, break the symbols, l i k e an insurrection against authority, i t i s surely a s t i l l b i r t h . The natural symbolism of r e a l i t y has more messages to communicate than the dry Morse code of the disengaged mind....the writer must be, f i r s t of a l l , a l i s t e n e r and observer, who can pay attention to r e a l i t y , l i k e an obedient p u p i l , and who i s w i l l i n g , always, to be surprised by the messages r e a l i t y i s sending through to him. And i f he gets the messages c o r r e c t l y he w i l l not have to go back and put i n the symbols; he w i l l f i n d that the symbols are there, staring at him s i g n i f i c a n t l y from the commonplace.5 This perception of natural symbolism amounts to a touchstone i n  57 any discussion of White's characters, and i t i s p a r t i c u l a r l y relevant to a v a l i d account of Stan and Amy Parker; i t also explains the formal q u a l i t i e s which distinguish The Tree of Man from the other novels. To state that the natural symbolism does not lead d i r e c t l y to the f i n a l meaning of the novel i s not to imply that i t i s unimportant. Floods and bushfires and droughts are major watersheds i n the l i v e s of the Parkers and t h e i r neighbours, but they do not reveal f o r Stan and Amy the inner core of significance which both are seeking within the l i m i t s of t h e i r own l i v e s . The extraordinary phenomena of nature merely counterbalance the ordinariness of the cabbage patch and the d a i l y r i t u a l of milking; the upheavals and violent changes within the natural order serve to underline i t s e s s e n t i a l sameness and continuity. The natural process i s haphazard,  ragged  and diverse, and derives from no order which i s based on a pattern of f i x e d and regular r e p e t i t i o n — e v e n the cycle of the seasons i s at most a series of unpredictable fluctuations, and t h i s lack of definable pattern i s mirrored i n the abrupt transi t i o n s from winter to summer, from flood to drought, which occur i n the action of the novel. I t has been written of Aust r a l i a that No t i d y chessboard landscapes suggested order as a law of n a t u r e — a law, which, i n any case, could have commanded l i t t l e acquiescence from the men who fought nature with axe and dam. The rhythm of the seasons i s less l u l l i n g l y obvious i n a land of evergreens—and i n A u s t r a l i a that rhythm i s  58 further broken by discords of flood and f i r e drought.6  and  In t h e i r attempts to discover or impose some sort of s t r u c t u r a l unity, c r i t i c s of The Tree of Man  have frequently  confused the natural symbolism with an attempt on White's part to give the novel formal shape. In his review, H.J. Oliver says, One thing i s c e r t a i n : that the symbol r i g h t l y plays an all-important part i n the construction of the novel. Exactly as i n E.M. Forster, plot i s replaced by rhythm; and rhythm i s created not only by the d i v i s i o n into parts (corresponding to the seasons of the Australian year, as the sections of A Passage to India correspond to the seasons of the Indian year?) but also by the recurrence of mention of the cows, watching ants, ducks....the fragment of coloured glass, a n d — p a r t i c u l a r l y — t h e white rose. One can only regret that the symbols do not always 'expand' i n the f u l l Forsterian way, accruing more and more meaning as the story goes on.7 To proceed from a comparison with Forster to t h i s sort of reg r e t f u l conclusion i s not only to misread the book ( i t i s not divided into parts corresponding to the seasons, f o r reasons stated above), but to misunderstand completely White's intentions. The rhythm of the novel l i e s i n the movement of an everincreasing number of people along the road from Bangalay and Sydney, u n t i l the drabness of the c i t y f i n a l l y l e v e l s everything but the trees; i n the gradual slowing up of the action as Stan and Amy  grow older; i n the constant  s h i f t i n g of states of mind;  i n the f i n a l i r r e g u l a r i t y of the thought process i t s e l f . In those places where White does attempt to impose a purely struct u r a l unity, the novel usually s u f f e r s , and seems to be untrue  59 to i t s e l f . At least one c r i t i c has objected along these verylines: ...the dramas of f i r e , flood, drought, i s o l a t i o n and the struggle to make a l i v i n g are introduced one by one as stock ingredients....what makes i t more s t r i k i n g i s that a l l the c l i c h e s of A u s t r a l ian f i c t i o n are there and that none of these c l i c h e s i s r e a l l y relevant to the theme.8 Hope's antagonism to Patrick White i s a byword i n Australian l i t e r a r y c i r c l e s , and to reduce the f i r e s and floods to "stock ingredients" i s merely irresponsible, but White's tendency to r i s e to the apocalyptic, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n these 'set pieces', does detract to a certain extent from the slow, f u l l movement of the novel, and, more important, i t removes the reader from the avowed center of i n t e r e s t . White said i n 1958 that ...I wanted to t r y to suggest i n t h i s book every possible aspect of l i f e , through the l i v e s of an ordinary man and woman. But at the same time I wanted to discover the extraordinary behind the ordinary, the mystery and the poetry which alone could make bearable the l i v e s of such people, and i n c i d e n t a l l y , my own l i f e since my return.9 Admittedly, a writer's statement of h i s intentions need not be c r u c i a l i n a f i n a l estimation of h i s work by a c r i t i c .  The  serious work of l i t e r a t u r e , once disengaged from the bosom of the writer, assumes i t s own r e a l i t y and cannot be circumscribed by any disavowals, explanations, or any other l i k e attempts to put the imp back into the bottle from whence i t came. But i n the case of The Tree of Man the d i f f i c u l t i e s to be met with i n f u l f i l l i n g the author's stated intentions have not been  com-  60 p l e t e l y overcome i n the novel i t s e l f . White's use of the word "ordinary" i s curious. Elsewhere i n h i s f i c t i o n ordinariness, i n the sense of dullness and unimaginativeness,  i s castigated  roundly by the author. I f Stan and Amy Parker are to be regarded as ordinary i n t h i s sense, then a story t o l d from t h e i r point of view must either be d u l l i n the extreme, or else stagger under the weight of the author's own intrusive presence. Neither occurs i n The Tree of Man, but a degree of manipulation does stand out i n t h i s novel, a manipulation which i s avoided i n the others, i f only by virtue of the f a c t that the viewing consciousnesses are to a greater or l e s s e r extent extraordinary. The manipulation, then, takes the form of a frequent a r t i f i c i a l heightening of s i g n i f i c a n c e , an investing of "ordinary" things such as cabbages and cows with i n s p i r a t i o n a l , almost mystical q u a l i t i e s . Flaubert of course used the same technique f o r s a t i r i c purposes i n such instances as the famous description of Charles Bovary's hat, and White himself uses the same s a t i r i c device i n h i s other novels, even, i n places, i n The Tree of Man. But whereas t h i s heightening of significance i s acceptable when the intention i s comic or s a t i r i c , or when the perceiving consciousness i t s e l f i s endlessly receptive and inventive, the r e s u l t i n The Tree of Man i s a frequently strained and sometimes unintentionally comic tone, as i n the v i s i t of the Parkers to a performance of "Hamlet" i n Sydney. White's style of writing, directed as i t i s to the exploration of the significance inherent i n what i s usually considered i n s i g n i f i c a n t , depends f o r  61 i t s e f f e c t upon a more r i g i d process of selection and exclusion than i s practised i n The Tree of Man. In the other novels the process of selection i s obvious, and i s i n fact the cause of considerable c r i t i c a l d i s f a v o u r — i t i s commonly f e l t that Theodora Goodman, Voss and Laura Trevelyan, to name only three, set about creating t h e i r own closed worlds which have l i t t l e r e l a t i o n to a common or shared r e a l i t y ; but White can chart these 'closed  1  worlds with a greater insight into t h e i r own  signifi-  cance and t h e i r own logic than i s possible with the world of Stan and Amy  Parker, where frequently too much i s imposed by  the author, too l i t t l e created by the characters themselves. Perhaps t h i s i s the r e s u l t of White's stated premise that mystery and poetry "alone could make bearable the l i v e s of such people". "Ordinary" people have l i t t l e use f o r mystery and poetry, and i t i s when White makes of Stan and Amy  people of  more than ordinary s e n s i b i l i t y that the potential of the novel i s f u l f i l l e d and the central relationship between them becomes one of depth and subtlety. Stan Parker brings a wife to share h i s house and property because i t i s somehow inevitable and necessary that he do so,  but t h i s necessity i s no guarantee of genuine union. At  t h i s stage, such an abstraction i s as useless as the s i l v e r nutmeg grater given to Amy  Fibbens at her wedding, and which  disappears a f t e r they have taken i n t h e i r f i r s t guest, the bible salesman. Amy has shown him the object:  62 "That", she said, " i s a l i t t l e s i l v e r nutmeg grater that was given me at my wedding". "Ah, weddings I 'Ow we t r y to insure o u r s e l v e s ! "  10  Neither Stan nor Amy, though given consolation by each other and by the land and the house they are s e t t l i n g into, can escape t h e i r own e s s e n t i a l solitude, the same b a r r i e r s of the s e l f which Theodora Goodman f i n a l l y succeeded i n breaking. The r e lease they f i n d i n each other i s temporary and i n the end i n adequate, not through any selfishness or egotism, but because the  man and the woman seek i n two d i f f e r e n t directions t h e i r  release and f u l f i l m e n t . Stan Parker was named by h i s mother a f t e r the African explorer, and, appropriately enough, Stan's whole l i f e i s a search and a "melancholy longing f o r permanence",(8) but permanence does not come from merely s e t t l i n g i n the same place f o r a number of years. The same daemon which i s to drive Yoss into the  desert causes the struggle within Stan Parker between "the  nostalgia of permanence and the fiend of motion".(8) To t h i s struggle Amy i s a necessary adjunct. She i s part of the farm, part of the immediate surrounding world from which Stan does not  need physically to escape, but which provides an image of  his  own imprisonment. His[land] was, by t h i s time, almost enclosed. But what else was his he could not say. Would h i s l i f e of longing be l i v e d behind the wire fences? His eyes were assuming a distance from looking into distances. (38)  To a certain extent t h i s imprisonment i s brought about by h i s own inarticulateness.  63 A l l words that he had never expressed might suddenly be spoken. He had i n him great words of love and beauty, below the surface, i f they could be found. (35) But i t i s not through h i s i n a b i l i t y to formulate conceptually what he only apprehends that Stan f e e l s himself "a prisoner i n his human mind"(46)—words to him are l i t t l e more than fumbling substitutes f o r the experiences they are supposed to convey; what he seeks i s the sudden coalescing of experience into a single point of i l l u m i n a t i o n , a drawing together of the multiple strands of h i s existence. Certain i n c i d e n t s — t h e v i o l e n t storm i n which he i s knocked to the ground, or the f i r e a t Glastonbury—bring  him close to the f i n a l v i s i o n , which i s , however,  not granted him u n t i l the day of h i s death. But f o r the moment, there was no obvious sign that h i s soul too might not harden i n the end into the neat, self-contained shape i t i s desirable souls should take. (38) That his soul does not harden into the desirable shape i s enough reason f o r people to avoid Stan Parker, "except oh d i r e c t pract i c a l matters".(225) He returns from the war, i n which the only recognition afforded him i s the blasted-off hand of an unknown enemy. At home^ his son and daughter are strangers to him, and Amy's e f f o r t s to penetrate  only cause the further removal of  her husband who "no longer believed anything by human intervention".(214)  could be effected  Despite Stan's increasing tendency  to i s o l a t i o n , his struggle with a God he cannot understand and who refuses to reveal himself i s not brought to a head u n t i l Amy's adultery, a f t e r which Stan goes through h i s own dark  64  night of the soul on the streets of Sydney, spewing h i s God into the gutter i n complete and abject despair. But through Amy's act and h i s own r e j e c t i o n , further b a r r i e r s are broken: "the opposition of God, which was withdrawn from him, l e f t altogether l i g h t and carefree",(352) Now,  him  at c e r t a i n times,  everything i n h i s l i f e i s seen with an "extreme s i m p l i c i t y of goodness", but at others there remains "some secret source of knowledge that he had f a i l e d to discover y e t " . ( 4 0 6 ) Stan's detachment at t h i s stage i s almost  complete:  He had gone one step farther into himself....He had a habit of looking at people as i f there were something standing behind them, and they d i d not l i k e that, because they could not very w e l l turn round to make sure. (409) On the day of Stan's death two minor events occur. An evangeli s t comes by the house with a handful of t r a c t s and of the g l o r i e s of salvation, and Amy  promises  finds i n a patch of weeds  the s i l v e r nutmeg grater. These tokens of earthly g l o r i e s and heavenly rewards are rejected. I believe, he said, i n the cracks i n the path. On which ants were massing, struggling up over an escarpment....As he stood waiting f o r the f l e s h to be loosened on him, he prayed f o r greater c l a r i t y , and i t became obvious as a hand. I t was clear that One, and no other f i g u r e , i s the answer to a l l sums. ( 4 9 7 ) It i s inevitable that Stan's general remoteness and detachment i n the l a s t chapters i n the book lend a c e r t a i n gratuitousness to his f i n a l apotheosis, i n which, through lack of s u f f i c i e n t l y dramatic presentation, the reader i s d i s i n c l i n e d  65 to believe. But whether or not Stan's death and illumination are credible, h i s remoteness, h i s e s s e n t i a l l y s o l i t a r y cond i t i o n , i s of major importance to the novel f o r the l i g h t i t throws on the character of Amy. I f Stan carries the burden of White's evolving metaphysic, i t i s Amy who emerges i n a l l the sharp textures of a completely realized character. I t i s to Amy, d i r e c t l y or i n d i r e c t l y , that most of the events i n the novel happen, and i t i s through her that the other characters come to l i f e . She observes and i s affected by the comings and goings of people. She lacks detachment, and i s f o r the most part l o s t i f she has nothing to do. Lacking the powers of concentration and the rigours of mind that might allow her to escape the claims of the contingent, she absorbs but does not r e t a i n . I n i t i a l indifference and absentmindedness  give way con-  t i n u a l l y to often t e r r i f y i n g involvements with others. She experiences death many times, but of her own we learn nothing, perhaps because she has already suffered a kind of death i n her own marriage, and afterwards remains i n v i o l a t e because part of somebody e l s e . The woman Amy Fibbens was absorbed i n the man Stan Parker, whom she had married. And the man, the man consumed the woman. That was the difference. I t did not occur to Stan Parker, i n the s u i t of s t i f f clothes he wore f o r town, that h i s strength had been increased by an act of cannibalism. (29) I f Amy's i n d i v i d u a l i t y has been absorbed into her husband's, she has not thereby found release, but rather a passive dependence from which, i n Stan's absence, she seeks to escape,  66 ...as i f she might acquire the secret i n performing a r i t u a l of household a c t s or merely by walking about. Suspecting she might f i n d grace i n her hands, suddenly, l i k e a plaster dove....But the mercy of God was the sound of wheels at the end of market day. And the love of God was a kiss f u l l i n the mouth. (28) ?  Like her husband, Amy  i s i n a r t i c u l a t e , but i n her case the i n -  a b i l i t y to translate experience into words and to communicate with others i s a formidable b a r r i e r to understanding; unlike Stan, her understanding i s dependent on her knowing, and potential knowledge i s defeated by her shyness and awkwardness with others. ...she longed f o r some knowledge of which others were apparently possessors, I have nothing, I know nothing, she suspected....If you could ask, she said. People, however, put on that face of surprise and disgust when cornered by requests i n any way peculiar. She knew, because she had adopted i t h e r s e l f . (366) Amy's absorption i n Stan e f f e c t i v e l y prevents her from knowing and thus understanding her husband. Disengagement from him leads her not to detachment and possible revelation, but to a desperate search f o r the substitute knowledge of adultery. Early i n t h e i r marriage she discovers that " i f she could have held h i s head i n her hands and looked into the s k u l l at h i s secret l i f e . . . s h e might have been placated",(150) but only at the end does she discover that her lack of knowledge must be attributed to something more than her mere i n a b i l i t y to penetrate f a r enough. Then she r e a l i z e d i t was f i n a l l y between h e r s e l f and God, and that i t was quite possible she would never succeed i n opening her husband and looking inside, that he was being kept shut f o r other purposes. (432)  67 These "other purposes", whatever t h e i r nature, f o r the continued impenetrability of others, are not to be discovered by Amy's r a t i o n a l enquiry. To her neighbour, Mrs O'Dowd, the question of two people existing together i s reduced to terms of a mathematic s i m p l i c i t y , but the expression of her equation i s too confused f o r Amy to follow: " . . . i t i s the men that make the round figure, even such men as we may have, some of us, they know how much of what we know to be r i g h t , i s r i g h t . I t i s not enough to know that something i s r i g h t i f you cannot add an subtract an get the f i n a l answer".(195) But f o r the O'Dowds, the comic counterpoint to the Parkers, communal existence i s a gamble f o r self-preservation, f o r the maintenance of jealously guarded i n d i v i d u a l boundaries. In the Parkers' case, boundaries are unwillingly accepted by habit, which "comforted them, l i k e warm drinks and s l i p p e r s , and even went disguised as love".(342) In the f i n a l analysis, the purpose f o r which the e s s e n t i a l separation of Stan and Amy i s ordained remains f o r them a mystery. Two people do not lose themselves at the i d e n t i c a l moment, or else they might f i n d each other, and be saved. I t i s not as simple as that. (367) Several of the many minor characters i n The Tree of Man deserve attention f o r the various attitudes they exhibit t o wards the same questions of i n d i v i d u a l i s o l a t i o n and the b a r r i ers to understanding. They suggest i n turn d i f f e r e n t avenues of approach to the f i n a l v i s i o n of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n which Stan Parker i s granted. I t i s Amy, however, who has commerce with  68 these other inhabitants of D u r i l g a i , and to her t h e i r possible message i s couched i n terms of violence and destruction. The most important of them are D o l l and Bub Quigley, known to the Parkers from the e a r l i e s t days, before D u r i l g a i was even named. D o l l , referred:to as Miss Quigley by most people on account of her convent education, i s "an unfinished totem of which the significance was obscure".(47) An a i r of importance and respect surrounds D o l l because she can write and i s capable of certain abstractions. They brought her things to write, and she sat at a deal table beside a lamp...and made l i t t l e e l e gant passes with her hand above the paper, to form the words i n a i r f i r s t , and her family looked on i n pride and wonder, waiting f o r her to write. She was above them, though she d i d not choose to be. ( 4 8 ) Together with her at a l l times i s her i d i o t brother Bub, who "had to be taken and poured from here to there, and contained by other people, usually the w i l l of his s i s t e r D o l l " . ( 4 8 ) D o l l i s not only an interpreter, she i s also a figure of absolute s i m p l i c i t y and disturbing goodness, and takes upon herself whatever sins others would be r i d of. "She would have suffered w i l l i n g l y i f she had been asked. But she was not".(116) The cross she must bear i s Bub, the grown man who dribbles and examines the skeletons of leaves with a fixed i n t e n s i t y . He appals and exasperates Amy Parker, who r e a l i z e s , however, that " t h i s ageless man was s i n g u l a r l y f r e e " . The intimate connexion between the brother and s i s t e r i s made abundantly clear by D o l l herself, when Amy mentions that Bub should be put away. "Then  69 the voice of D o l l Quigley said, 'He i s what I have got.'"(358) But even f o r D o l l , reduced by the end of the book to the "essence of goodness", love proves to be an impossible burden. She k i l l s her brother, "and Amy  Parker saw that D o l l Quigley  was i n hell".(484) The whole sequence can bear many i n t e r p r e t ations, but can perhaps best be seen as a further v a r i a t i o n of Stan and Amy's r e l a t i o n s h i p . Like the O'Dowds, D o l l and Bub complement each other, and i n both of these relationships there i s an undertone of violence, suggesting at least one possible 'purpose' f o r the basic separateness of Stan and Amy.  Essential  freedom and e s s e n t i a l goodness cannot coexist, but must turn on and destroy each other. But Stan and Amy  perpetuate rather than  destroy, i n spite of, or perhaps because of, the distance which separates them—a theme which White i s to examine more c l o s e l y i n Voss. L i v i n g a l i f e of almost t o t a l obscurity, Mr Gage, husband of the postmistress, f i r s t a t t r a c t s Amy  Parker's attention  when she comes across him crouched down on the road i n t e n t l y examining an ant. She "could have crushed with her foot such <v ecstasy as remained i n h i s ant-body", but the i n t e n s i t y of h i s eyes penetrated the woman's unconscious face almost to the darker corners, as i f here too was some mystery he must solve, l i k e the soul of the ant. (103) Later i t i s discovered that Mr Gage has hanged himself on a tree, and another "mystery" has resolved i t s e l f i n an act of violemce. He has l e f t behind a group of paintings which Mrs Gage  70 permits a number of l a d i e s to see. In the midst of the macabre h i l a r i t y aroused by t h i s impromptu exhibition, Amy Parker suddenly sees translated into the forms and colours before her a possible solution to the mystery: one painting i s of a woman with arms upstretched toward the sun, and down i n one corner the scratched-in skeleton of an ant, "and out of the cage of the ant's body a flame f l i c k e r e d , of luminous paint, r i v a l l i n g i n i n t e n s i t y that sun which the woman was struggling after".(290) For the f i r s t time i n her l i f e , Amy knows without understanding, but the relevance to her of the a r t i s t ' s expression before he died i s not c l e a r — t h i s i s l e f t to Stan t o interpret just before h i s de'ath. Gage i s a character who figures prominently i n White's work—the a r t i s t who cannot withstand the power of what he has created. The power of the i r r a t i o n a l and the unprecedented i s equally evident i n the figure of Madeleine, a v i s i t o r from Sydney to the r i c h Glastonbury estate at D u r i l g a i . To Amy, Madeleine i s a strange dark person who rides by the Parker farm on a horse, a figure of vague splendour and mystery who, i n a dream, presents Amy with a secret diamond. During the f i r e which destroys Glastonbury, Stan Parker goes i n to rescue her. He i s i n e v i t a b l y tempted by her, but on getting her outside, he discovers that her hair has been burnt o f f , and she i s "holding her head, and f a l l i n g even to a l l f o u r s " . ( I 8 4 ) In a parody of Mr Gage's humility before the ant, Madeleine i s now the debased  1  71 v i s i o n , a creature incapable of the significance both Stan and Amy  have attached to her. But her e f f e c t on the Parkers i s  never e n t i r e l y l o s t , as White points out i n a scene l a t e i n the novel when Thelma, herself incapable of significance, v i s i t s her parents with her f r i e n d , the aging Mrs Fisher, who was once Madeleine. Neither Stan nor Amy  takes her seriously, but chords  are struck which neither can ignore, f o r Madeleine with her red hair has r i s e n phoenix-like from the flames of Glastonbury. But "poetry that has been used up must go out of the system".(448) Madeleine and the Armstrongs of Glastonbury are but the advance guard of a s t e a d i l y encroaching Sydney, whose representatives from now on are not so e a s i l y routed as they establish themselves ever more securely around the Parkers' property. For Mrs Parker was by now unknown to some. She drove on through scenes she could no longer claim.(139) Thelma, the Parkers' t h i n , prim daughter, soon leaves f o r Sydney, and i n the school of middle class pretensions Thelma proves to be an eager l e a r n e r — s h e "soon knew what to do".(259) But she can never know enough, and the t e r r o r of not being accepted, of being ultimately  turned on and despised f o r her origins and her  ignorance, forces her to deny her childhood and her parents. She changes her name to an eminently acceptable C h r i s t i n e . But i f Sydney i s slowly invading D u r i l g a i , D u r i l g a i can f i g h t back; i f no attempt i s made by the i n d i v i d u a l to break down the b a r r i e r s of selfishness, they w i l l sometimes be broken down from outside.  72 Down that road, of loosed barbed wire and dusty trees, which was only distinguished by her parents l i v i n g i n i t , she drove at anxious speed, remembering an old man who had exposed himself once i n some bushes. To l i v e i n a sealed room, she feared, would not exclude a l l the incidents that must be excluded. (385) Yet despite White's b i t t e r attack on so much of what Thelma represents, she i s also instrumental i n providing yet another avenue to eventual release. Her decision to c u l t i v a t e music takes her f a r t h e r into uncharted waters than was intended. Unable to face her husband, the timid Dudley, she goes to a concert, her soul f i r m l y anchored u n t i l the music begins. Thelma Forsdyke lowered her eyelids i n the face of the assault, shocked and frightened by her approaching n o b i l i t y . Almost anyone can be raised at some point i n h i s l i f e to heights he dare not own. So t h i s woman looked and retreated. (489) To those who cannot r e t r e a t , l i k e Mr Gage and D o l l Quigley, the enormity of the world w i l l mete out some form of destruction; yet where preservation can only be ensured i n a sealed room, the retreat of Thelma Parker, the death of the soul, i s consistently to White the worst horror of a l l . R.F. Brissenden writes that So f a r as The Tree of Man i s concerned i t may be that White has been praised more f o r h i s intentions than f o r what he a c t u a l l y succeeded i n doing.11 To t h i s should be added Ray Mathew's observation that  n  i t is  t r a d i t i o n a l i n Australian c r i t i c i s m to invent an aim and then to rebuke the a r t i s t f o r not achieving i t " . I  2  I f The Tree of Man  shows a diffuseness and lack of c l a r i t y notably absent from  72 the other novels, t h i s i s not because White has f a i l e d i n h i s own stated intention to convey the mystery and the poetry which make ordinary l i v e s bearable, but because the mystery and the poetry do not always a r i s e organically from character and s i t u ation, with the r e s u l t that a certain degree of contrivance i s f e l t to be present, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n those parts of the novel where the natural symbolism i s not allowed to speak f o r i t s e l f , but i s embellished and heightened to an unwarranted degree. These d e f i c i e n c i e s of r e a l i z a t i o n do not, however, detract from the s p e c i a l achievement of the novel, which l i e s i n the power and subtlety of White's depiction of the central relationship between Stan and Amy Parker—the peculiar dependence on each other which does not permit of f i n a l communication, the distance between them which ensures i s o l a t i o n yet which at the same time helps perpetuate. The story of D o l l Quigley reinforces the Jamesian idea that complete possession of another i n d i v i d u a l i s s p i r i t u a l murder. Stan's possession of Amy from the day of t h e i r marriage i s not so complete as to destroy the i n v i o l a b l e center, the preservation of which enables Amy to f e e l f o r her grandson some of that love which i s rejected by her children and reduced to a habit by her husband. Amy Parker had not attempted to possess t h i s remote c h i l d , with the consequences that he had come closer than her own. (398) As he explores the conditions f o r one individual's meaningful communication with another, White establishes the ground-work f o r the next two novels.  73  FOOTNOTES  1  "The Prodigal Son", Australian Letters. I, 3 , 1 9 5 8 , p . 3 8 .  2 "  Marjorie Barnard, "The Four Novels of Patrick White", Meanjin, XV, 2, 1 9 5 6 , p.166.  J  4  5  "A Shropshire Lad", XXXI, The Collected Poems of A.E. Housman. London, 1 9 3 9 , p . 4 8 . "Writing and C r i t i c i s m " , Southerly. XX, 3 , 1 9 5 9 , p . l 6 l . " S e t t l i n g the Colonel's Hash", On the Contrary: A r t i c l e s of B e l i e f . 1 9 4 6 - 1 9 6 1 . New York, 1962, p . 2 4 1 . A.A. P h i l l i p s , "Douglas Stewart's Ned K e l l y and Australian Romanticism". Mean.jin, XV, 3 , 1 9 5 6 , p.262.  7  8  9  1  0  1  1  1  2  "The Expanding Novel", review i n Southerly. XVII, 3 , 1 9 5 6 , p.169. A.D. Hope, "The L i t e r a r y Pattern i n A u s t r a l i a " , UTQ, XXVI, 2, 1957, p.124. "The Prodigal Son", p . 3 9 . The Tree of Man. London, 1 9 5 6 , p . 3 6 . A l l subsequent r e f e r ences are to t h i s e d i t i o n . "Patrick White", Mean.lin , XVIII. 4 , 1959, p.410. "Writing and C r i t i c i s m " , p . 1 6 3 .  CHAPTER IV VOSS  I t i s perhaps surprising that the chronicles of Man's discovery and exploration of the physical world have not been used more frequently as a basis f o r serious f i c t i o n . That there exists a fundamental c u r i o s i t y about journeys to new and foreign lands has been evident since Caesar f i r s t f e l t i t necessary to describe the manners and customs of the peoples he set out to conquer f o r the greater glory of Rome. The vast i n t e r e s t i n the t r a v e l s of Hakluyt and Marco Polo, the bizarre inventions of Rabelais and the myths of Prester J o h n — a l l t e s t i f y to the a t t r a c t i o n of the voyage and the voyager as a subject capable of almost i n f i n i t e imaginative development. Since the  circum-  navigation of the globe and the other great voyages of discovery of the Renaissance, 'travel l i t e r a t u r e ' has become increasingly specialized and narrow i n i t s scope—appealing  i n most cases  either to the h i s t o r i a n , i n the form of journals, maps and d i a r i e s , or, i n guidebooks and personal reminiscences,  to the  indiscriminate t o u r i s t more interested i n l o c a l colour and  low  costs than i n the discovery of the new and the a l i e n . In modern f i c t i o n only Conrad has made wide use of the journey to the unknown as a vast and powerful metaphor i n i t s own  right,  75  although more recently Golding's Lord of the F l i e s and Bellow's Henderson the Rain King show important variations on t h i s theme. The o r i g i n a l i t y of Voss, which appeared i n 1957, l i e s not i n White's reliance f o r source material on the records of several of the great Australian journeys of exploration, nor i n h i s interest i n the nature and personality of one p a r t i c u l a r explorer, the German Ludwig Leichhardt, but i n the way i n which h i s t o r i c a l accuracy and p l a u s i b i l i t y have been used as the altogether convincing background to the larger themes of the n o v e l — t h e search f o r salvation, the meaning of suffering, and the nature of the w i l l . White's own account of the genesis of Voss indicates something more than a mere ' h i s t o r i c a l novel' approach to source material: Afterwards I wrote Voss. possibly conceived during the early days of the B l i t z , when I sat reading Eyre's Journal i n a London bed-sitting room. Nourished by months spent trapesing across the Egyptian and Cyrenaican deserts, influenced by the archmegalomaniac of the day, the idea f i n a l l y matured a f t e r reading contemporary accounts of Leichhardt's expeditions and A.H. Chisolm's Strange New World on returning to A u s t r a l i a . 1 A further statement of h i s intentions suggests the d i r e c t i o n White's work i s now taking: Always something of a frustrated painter, and a composer manqu6, I wanted to give my book the textures of music, the sensuousness of paint, to convey through the theme and characters of Voss what Delacroix and Blake might have seen, what Mahler and L i s z t might have heard.2 In The Aunt's Story the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n of inner and outer worlds  76 i s arrived at through what i s e s s e n t i a l l y a process of epistemol o g i c a l abstraction; i n The Tree of Man,  i n many ways a trans-  i t i o n a l work, there are hints of a more visionary approach to the same question, not always happily embodied i n the figure of Stan Parker* In Voss, however, White has a character large and powerful enough to carry the f u l l weight of the novel's f a r reaching implications, but i n t h i s task Voss himself i s not working alone—always  present as a support and a counterbalance  i s the figure of Laura Trevelyan. The complex themes of Voss are ordered and o b j e c t i f i e d i n the novel's form, which at once ceases to consist only of the more obvious s t r u c t u r a l devices, and becomes an analogue which i s at the same time the very substance and q u a l i t y of White's v i s i o n . This v i s i o n can best be described, following White's suggestion, i n musical terms. Voss and Laura are two counterpointed figures which interact f o r the most part i n d i s cord with each other, but which are united i n an. o v e r a l l fugal form, the form the novel i n i t s entirety takes, as i n d i v i d u a l themes are repeated, elaborated and expanded through the two main characters. The s t r u c t u r a l bare bones of Voss are simply described. Laura Trevelyan, niece of the explorer's patron, and Voss meet each other on a few b r i e f occasions at the beginning of the novel. Voss's expedition departs f o r the I n t e r i o r , while Laura remains i n Sydney, but as time passes, and the d i s tance between them increases, an intense s p i r i t u a l 'communi-  77 cation' i s established, l a s t i n g u n t i l Voss's death, a f t e r which Laura r e t i r e s from the world to become a schoolmistress.  In  alternating sequences White traces the progress of the r e l a t i o n ship i n his two main characters, and at the same time examines two contrasted s o c i e t i e s — t h e society of Sydney i n the l£40's which serves to illuminate the central figure of Laura, and other members of the expedition who  the  illuminate the central  figure of Voss. Both Laura and Voss dominate t h e i r respective sections, but i t i s the nature of the intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p which develops between these two major figures which gives the novel i t s structure, i t s form and i t s meaning, just as i t i s the nature of t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p which has been so consistently misinterpreted by the majority of c r i t i c s . When Voss and Laura f i r s t meet, they recognize  i n each  other basic s i m i l a r i t i e s . Resentful of the mediocrity around them, they are fundamentally i s o l a t e d and withdrawn, dependent on a sustained inner l i f e and a s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y which amounts to s p i r i t u a l pride. Laura's decision that "she could not remain a convinced believer i n that God i n whose benevolence and power she had received most earnest i n s t r u c t i o n " has led her to subscribe to the tenets of a vague rationalism. Yet, i n spite of t h i s admirable s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y , she might have elected to share her experience with some s i m i l a r mind, i f such a mind had offered. But there was no evidence of i n t e l l e c t u a l kinship i n any of her small c i r c l e of acquaintance....3 But i f Laura's pride i s as yet uncertain of i t s object, being  78 i n fact the reaction of any sensitive and i n t e l l i g e n t young woman to a society of deadening vacuity, the pride of the very much older and more experienced Voss has created i t s own i t s own  potential v i n d i c a t i o n , i n the expedition. Not  object,  only,  l i k e Laura, i s he " s u f f i c i e n t i n himself"(17), he i s also possessed of a desire f o r self-aggrandizement ambition of a Nietzschean  amounting to the  hero to recast the world i n his  own  image• I f he were to leave that name on the land, i r r e v o cably, h i s material body swallowed by what i t had named, i t would be rather on some desert place, a perfect abstraction, that would rouse no f e e l i n g s of tenderness i n p o s t e r i t y . He had no more need for sentimental admiration than he had f o r love. He was complete. (45) Laura, however, f o r a l l her s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y , does not claim completeness. Already i n her mind she has entertained the v a r i ous p o s s i b i l i t i e s of "self-improvement". She i s one of those prepared to move "out of the luxuriant world of t h e i r pretensions into the desert of m o r t i f i c a t i o n and reward".(80) She t e l l s Voss, "You are my_ desert!"(94)  I t i s the i r r u p t i o n of  Voss into the hitherto closed world of Laura Trevelyan which precipitates the beginning of a journey whose outcome i s perhaps even more disastrous than that which b e f a l l s the expedition. With a f a c i l i t y f o r which he has come under attack from several quarters, White uses a vast number of devices to l i n k the progress of h i s two characters a f t e r t h e i r physical separation. Elaborate p a r a l l e l s are drawn between the  success-  79 ive  stages of the expedition and the process of t r i a l and con-  f l i c t which develops i n the mind of Laura Trevelyan. In imaginative re-enactment  of the betrayals and s a c r i f i c e s which occur  during the expedition, Laura undergoes s i m i l a r c r i s e s of soul and conscience. The physical r e a l i t i e s of the expedition, hunger, t h i r s t , sickness, the never-ending expanses of rock, desert and sunlight, form the basic imagery used to describe these crises.. Laura enters her i l l n e s s as Voss and h i s remaining  companions enter the f l a t desert at the center of the con-  tinent. Surrounding Voss at t h i s stage are the shadowy figures of the blacks who w i l l shed h i s own blood, while i n attendance at Laura's bedside i s the doctor with his leeches. Deliverance from t h i s time of t r i a l appears to both parties i n the form of a b r i l l i a n t comet which f o r several nights l i g h t s the darkness. From an examination of these devices i t i s an easy step to the conclusion that Voss and Laura f i n d s p i r i t u a l or mystical union where physical union i s not possible, that i n a mutual transcendence they have succeeded i n escaping the bonds of physical r e a l i t y . Such a reading, though possibly s a t i s f y i n g i n i t s e l f , would place an altogether unsuitable emphasis on the technique of p a r a l l e l s . Other c r i t i c s than the reviewer f o r Australian Letters, who  says that "the weakness of t h i s con-  trivance detracts from the stature of the novel",4 object to what appears to be a rather obvious method of getting the point across, but they seem c l e a r l y to miss the subtle and t e r r i b l e  80 irony a t the center of the novel, that there is, no r e a l communion, that:Laura and Voss have i n f a c t used each other to develop i n e n t i r e l y opposed d i r e c t i o n s . John Rorke r i g h t l y sees t h i s irony as e s s e n t i a l to an understanding of Voss: The r e l a t i o n s h i p i s not e s s e n t i a l l y mystical.... The point i s that, s p i r i t u a l l y , they cannot come together. The irony of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p i s that they are, i n a sense, betraying one another.5 Thusj the whole device of p a r a l l e l development must be regarded i n the l i g h t of irony, and the f a c t that only two of Voss's and Laura's l e t t e r s ever reach t h e i r intended destination i s s i g n i f i cant not because i t shows a transcendent union of the senders, but i n that i t underlines the very i m p o s s i b i l i t y of such a union. What appears to be empathy and communion across vast distances becomes i n r e a l i t y two adjacent but opposed worlds of s e l f projection and fantasy, and from t h i s d u a l i t y derives White's moral v i s i o n . Voss's f i r s t recorded encounter with the s p i r i t of selflessness occurs when e a r l i e r i n the year he v i s i t s a mission near Moreton Bay. One of the brothers says to him, "Mr Voss... you have a contempt f o r God, because He i s not i n your own image".(54) Later, during the important confrontation which takes place i n the Bonners' garden immediately p r i o r to the departure of the expedition, Voss heatedly rebukes Laura f o r her nebulous  atheism.  "But the God they have abandoned i s of mean conception", Voss pursued. " E a s i l y destroyed, because i n t h e i r own image. P i t i f u l because such destruction does not prove the destroyer's power. Atheismus i s self-murder. Do  81 you not understand ?" (95) At t h i s stage Voss's determined destruction of Laura's possible pretensions masks h i s own awareness that Laura, too, can i n f l i c t wounds. After disclaiming any s i m i l a r i t y between them, he goes on to warn her further: "For some reason of i n t e l l e c t u a l vanity, you decided to do away with God...but the consequences are yours alone".(96) Unable to tolerate the p o s s i b i l i t y of a  soul-mate  whom he suspects of becoming a r i v a l , Voss detects i n Laura the f i r s t of h i s betrayers. I t i s necessary to him that " a l l , sooner or l a t e r , sensed his d i v i n i t y and became dependent upon him".(188) During the conversation i n the garden Laura exposes the magnanimity of Voss, denying him h i s right to be self-appointed man as well as self-appointed god. "...Everything i s f o r yourself. Human emotions, when you have them, are quite f l a t t e r i n g to you. I f those emotions s t r i k e sparks from others, that also i s f l a t t e r i n g . But most f l a t t e r i n g , I think, when you experience i t , i s the hatred, or even the mere i r r i t a t i o n of weaker characters". (94) Laura has also grasped the essential truth about the explorer: he i s , i n f a c t , dependent on others, who are at a l l times a necessary yardstick against which the stature of Voss i s measured, and i t i s t h i s dependence, rather than the p o s s i b i l i t y that some of h i s fellow men might deny him, that makes him v u l nerable. This p o s s i b i l i t y does not occur to Voss. His motives f o r undertaking the journey are f u l l y i n keeping with h i s own conception of himself. "Every man has a genius, though i t i s not always discoverable, least of a l l when choked by the t r i v i a l i t i e s of d a i l y existence. But i n t h i s  82 disturbing country...it i s possible more e a s i l y to discard the i n e s s e n t i a l and to attempt the i n f i n i t e . You w i l l be burnt up most l i k e l y , you w i l l have the f l e s h torn from your bones...but you w i l l r e a l i z e that genius of which you sometimes suspect you are possessed, and of which you w i l l not t e l l me you are a f r a i d " . (38) Voss knows, as Theodora Goodman knew, that the s e l f must be destroyed i f transcendence i s to be achieved, but the egotism of the German regards as an end the ultimate refinement of the s e l f , the emergence of "genius". What Voss desires i s not f i n a l l i b e r a t i o n from the s e l f , but the enslavement  of a l l else to i t ,  and i t i s t h i s which makes his statement "To make yourself, i t i s also necessary to destroy yourself"(38) more an exercise i n e g o i s t i c n i h i l i s m than a v a l i d guide to the attainment of freedom. For the n i h i l i s t can destroy everything but his own w i l l , which i s then elevated as the f i n a l and attained goal of h i s l i b e r a t i o n . Laura's claim that " t h i s expedition of yours i s pure w i l l " i s countered by Voss when he reminds her of the r e s t r a i n t he w i l l be under from the other members of the party, yet h i s explanation of why he does not walk into the desert on his own i s highly unsatisfactory: "It would be better", he added abruptly, "that I should go barefoot, and alone. I know. But i t i s useless to t r y to convey to others the extent of that knowledge". (74) The fear that there w i l l be no witness to h i s d i v i n i t y i s concealed. Unprepared f o r the nature of the witness h i s party w i l l bear him, Voss underestimates h i s companions.  83 He did not altogether trust those he had chosen f o r h i s patron's comfort, but at l e a s t they were weak men, he considered, a l l but one, who had surrendered h i s strength conveniently to s e l f lessness. ( 2 4 ) Such a surrender to humility as Palfreyman has apparently made i s a constant source of i r r i t a t i o n to Voss: "Is man  so ignoble  that he must l i e i n the dust, l i k e worms?"(161) But  selfless-  ness i n others need not be any more than an i r r i t a t i o n u n t i l such time as i t appears to form a conspiracy. At Rhine Towers, Sanderson's s t a t i o n and the f i r s t major stopping place of the expedition, Voss f i r s t senses the pressures from that d i r e c t i o n . Sanderson makes him uneasy: "both he and h i s wife would wash t h e i r servants' feet i n many thoughtful and imperceptible ways";(135) but i t i s when he sees Judd and Palfreyman  speaking  together that he r e a l i z e s the p o s s i b i l i t y of a closed c i r c l e . Then he almost experienced a state of panic f o r his own isolation...and he had come down another step i n an attempt to see what was i n the faces of the convict and the o r n i t h o l o g i s t . (147) The expedition proceeds from Rhine Towers, a place of s i m p l i c i t y and gentleness whose name evokes f o r Voss a l o s t innocence of childhood, to J i l d r a , where the squatter Brendan Boyle l i v e s i n a darkness of d i s i l l u s i o n of squalor. To Boyle, "to explore the depths of one's own repulsive nature i s more than i r r e s i s t i b l e — i t  i s necessary".(179)  The idealism of Sanderson and the  despair of Boyle provide two opposed absolutes between which the individuals ?of Voss's party manoeuver with d i f f i c u l t y . The 1  patterns of i n d i v i d u a l existence which gradually emerge as  84  Voss comes into ever closer contact with h i s party establish the tensions through which the pride of the leader i s threatened and f i n a l l y destroyed. Three men i n p a r t i c u l a r reverse the God-man r e l a t i o n s h i p and suggest those standards by which Voss himself might be measured. But i n a wilderness where human values become hopelessly r e l a t i v e and dependent f o r t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n on t h e i r own opposites, White never suggests that any one of the a l t e r n a t i v e patterns of thought and behavior posed by Palfreyman, Judd and Le Mesurier i s i n i t s e l f of ultimate worth: the f i n a l v i n d i c a t i o n i s l e f t to Voss himself. A p i v o t a l yet ambiguous f i g u r e , the ornithologist Palfreyman seems at f i r s t to be the most dangerous threat to the pride of Voss. While condemning the morality of other men,  he  sees as his only j u s t i f i c a t i o n h i s a b i l i t y to love them. Laura Trevelyan "suspected a knife might be hidden somewhere. A knife intended f o r h e r s e l f " . ( 1 1 4 ) Voss knows that, " i n the surrender to selflessness, such individuals enjoyed a kind of voluptuous transport".(52) Palfreyman's assumption of s a i n t l i n e s s , however, i s not without undertones of a perverse a t t r a c t i o n to the leprous sore rather than the act of healing, and the pride he takes i n h i s C h r i s t - l i k e r o l e i s exposed when, "through some t r i c k of moonlight or uncertainty of behaviour", Voss appears to him i n a travesty of martyrdom, h i s head detached from his body i n a n t i c i p a t i o n of what i s to come. Ah, Christ i s an e v i l dream, he feared, and a l l my l i f e I have been deceived. After the bones of the naked Christ had been drawn through the f o e t i d room,  85 by sheets of moonlight, and out the doorway, the f u l l y conscious witness continued to l i e on h i s blanket, face to face with h i s own shortcomings and h i s greatest error. (189) Palfreyman l a t e r r e l a t e s to Voss a d e t a i l of h i s early l i f e , i n which he had f o r c i b l y prevented h i s hunch-backed s i s t e r from taking her own  life.  "And you rescued, or condemned, your s i s t e r " , Voss accused, "by denying her the Gothic splendours of death. Her intention was glorious, but you rushed and t i e d a tourniquet, when a l l you had to o f f e r was your own delusion". "You cannot destroy me, Mr Voss!" Palfreyman insisted.(282) The strength of the delusion w i l l not permit Palfreyman to be destroyed—indeed, the more mortifying the revelation of truth, the more j u s t i f i c a t i o n he f e e l s f o r h i s own existence, i n a t e r r i b l e inversion of pride. When, near the end of the expedi t i o n , the aboriginals f i n a l l y close i n on the party, Palfreyman offers himself up f o r s a c r i f i c e . The rest of the party looking on, he i s k i l l e d by spears, "laughing, because  still  he did not. know what to do". Ah, Lord, Lord, h i s mind repeated, before tremendous pressure from above compelled him to l a y down the l a s t of his weakness. He had f a i l e d evidently. (365) Whether h i s l a s t act i s a f a i l u r e or a triumph, whether h i s death i s r e a l l y a v i c t o r y of selflessness and love, or merely the l o g i c a l termination of the delusions of a self-appointed martyr, White does not make e n t i r e l y clear, but from t h i s point on, "the two parties now rode i n opposite directions",(371) leaving between them a small cairn of stones. Frank Le Mesurier i s "at a l l times closer to Voss than  86 Palfreyman, and elects to stay with leader a f t e r the 'rebellion' led  by Judd. He i s a man of no convictions, a complete pragma-  t i s t who  i s a greater source of danger to Voss than  Palfreyman  because h i s scepticism admits of no p r i o r commitment and because he possesses a certain enviable freedom. "...I am a man of beginnings. They are my delusion. Gr my vice....There i s some purpose i n me, i f only I can h i t upon i t . But my whole l i f e has been an investigation, s h a l l we say, of ways". (106) In his lack of ideals of any sort, which Voss finds enormously i r r i t a t i n g , l i e s a possible mystery which Voss cannot enter. To Le Mesurier the mystery of l i f e l i e s " i n f a i l u r e , i n perpetual  struggle, i n becoming",(289) and the record of t h i s mystery  l i e s i n the jealously guarded book of poems which i s a torment to the German, and which he i s forced f i n a l l y to read i n s t e a l t h . What he finds i s a selflessness not so e a s i l y derided as Palfreyman' s, because imbued with a resignation and acceptance of the dual nature of  man.  Humility i s my brigalow, that must I remember; here I s h a l l f i n d a t h i n shade i n which to sit....Then I am not God, but Man. I am God with a spear i n his side. (316) But the resignation does not hold: the sort of humanism bred by suffering which Le Mesurier expresses, i s f i n a l l y destroyed by i t s ultimate lack of object. He destroys the poems as soon as he r e a l i z e s that the desert and the suffering o f f e r no further beginnings, no further becomings. Bracing himself against the tree, Frank Le Mesurier began to open h i s throat with a knife he had....It was h i s l a s t attempt at poetry. Then, with h i s remaining strength, he was opening the hole wider, u n t i l he was able to climb out into the immense f i e l d s of silence. (405)  87/ The  one-time c o n v i c t Judd i s opposed t o Le M e s u r i e r  t h a t h i s experience for  beginnings,  many years  l i e s behind  him.  H i s l i f e i s not a  but i s i t s e l f an aftermath,  in  search  of a h e l l endured  before.  What he knew could have been c o n s i d e r a b l e , though would not escape from him, one suspected, even i f p i n c e r s were brought to bear. (142) Judd's knowledge, a w e l l which Voss cannot plumb, i s s i g n i f i e d by h i s p o s s e s s i o n of a telescope, and the e x p e d i t i o n ' s compass, which Voss h i m s e l f causes t o be Judd's own to  ' l o s t ' and  l a t e r discovered i n  equipment. T h i s mysterious attempt on Voss's p a r t  c o n v i c t Judd a g a i n , before the e x p e d i t i o n , f o r crimes he  has  a l r e a d y p a i d f o r , f a i l s , i f f o r no other reason than t h a t Judd i s the o n l y member of the p a r t y t o s u r v i v e . In the c o n v i c t r e s i d e the C h r i s t - l i k e q u a l i t i e s which Palfreyman seeks v a i n l y to  a t t a i n a t the expense of h i s own  life  i n dubious martyrdom.  He m i n i s t e r s t o o t h e r s whose s i n s are engraved on h i s own  back,  and  of  i n h i s continued  e x i s t e n c e as scapegoat and  knowledge he i s Voss's most powerful  possessor  adversary.  CVoss] d e s p i s e d p h y s i c a l s t r e n g t h ; he d e s p i s e d , though s e c r e t l y , even the compassion he had sensed i n the m i n i s t r a t i o n s of Judd. H i s own s t r e n g t h , he f e l t , c o u l d not decrease w i t h p h y s i c a l d e b i l i t y . But, was Judd's power i n c r e a s e d by compassion? (226) Judd i s the o n l y c h a r a c t e r whose d e s t r u c t i o n i s a l r e a d y accompl i s h e d , and who  i n a l l f o u r novels he i s the o n l y major c h a r a c t e r  does not seek escape from the c o n t i n g e n t .  q u e s t i o n h i s own  He does not  e x i s t e n c e e i t h e r i n i t s e l f or i n r e l a t i o n t o  the outer w o r l d : h i s freedom has been achieved under a duress  88 which was  never, as i n the case of Voss, self-imposed.  Any  freedom which i s not at the same time freedom from the tyranny of the w i l l i s i l l u s o r y , and i n the case of Judd, aspiration of any sort i s the w i l l i n subtle disguise: i t i s precisely t h i s recognition that motivates the convict i n h i s r e b e l l i o n against Voss's leadership. Judd i s intended f o r l i f e . His own  soul  "had  achieved f u l f i l m e n t not by escaping from his body, but by returning to it".(261) I t i s his duty to p r e v a i l i n the teeth of destruction, and White's questioning  of "whether the act of  pure w i l l can be anything more than the expression structive ego"^  of the  de-  throws into e f f e c t i v e r e l i e f the whole c o n f l i c t  between assertion and p a s s i v i t y which he i s to treat further i n the next novel. In Voss, however, Judd, l i k e the other members of the expedition, i s sketched i n s u f f i c i e n t d e t a i l to suggest many p o s s i b i l i t i e s , but even he does not overshadow the figure of Voss himself. I t can be said of Palfreyman, Le Mesurier and Judd that t h e i r f a t e s , from the outset of the expedition, are the predetermined and l o g i c a l enactments of t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l natures. Voss, on the other hand, i s a t r a g i c figure whose stature i s increased by the metamorphosis he undergoes. This metamorphosis would not i n i t s e l f be t r a g i c i f a l l i.t entailed were the subs t i t u t i o n of humility f o r pride, leading up to the moment of recognition before death. This process of destruction, r e creation and f i n a l self-awareness does, however, constitute  39 the inner transformation of the character of Voss, even i f i t does not indicate the f i n a l significance of t h i s transformation. The explanation of the humility which emerges i n Voss i s i n i t s e l f simple. He has been shown 'unaccommodated man'.  He has  suffered what the rest of the expedition has suffered, and he has been forced to recognize, a f t e r the physical and  spiritual  deaths of h i s companions and the s p l i t t i n g of the party i n two, that, except f o r the simple Harry Robarts, h i s d i v i n i t y i s no longer a c c e p t e d — i s not even relevant, as each man r e t i r e s into himself to f i g h t the l a s t s o l i t a r y b a t t l e . "Lord, w i l l you not save us?" "I am no longer your Lord, Harry", said Voss.  (390)  The dependence of his companions on Voss has proved, with the exception of Harry, to be a t r a n s i t o r y thing, as i s also Voss's dependence on them. No longer does he need witnesses to his d i v i n i t y , because his d i v i n i t y i s now an i l l u s i o n . With t h i s recognition, the c o n f l i c t -becomes f u l l y i n t e r n a l i z e d , and the "completeness" with which he had e a r l i e r accredited himself i s now reduced to a t e r r i b l e duality, the irony of which gives to his self-awareness and subsequent death the essential impact of tragedy. Laura's statement that "when man  i s t r u l y humbled, when  he has learnt that he i s not God, then he i s nearest to becoming so"(411) i s on the surface a reasonable account of the meaning of Voss's humility, but i n one of his dreams she has said to him: "It i s the woman who  unmakes men,  to make saints".(201) The  un-  90  making of Voss, and the making of him into something else, i s f o r Laura a t e l e o l o g i c a l process, an advance towards sainthood, which Voss, i n his dream, d i s t r u s t s . For Voss, i t i s the state of d u a l i t y i t s e l f j i n which the making and the unmaking exist i n constant tension, which i s s i g n i f i c a n t , and h i s humility i s not a confession of h i s own worthlessness, but an acceptance of the i r r e c o n c i l a b l e s i n his own nature. In t h i s regard White i s emphas i z i n g again the conclusions reached i n The Aunt's Story. The importance of the idea of basic d u a l i t y i s underl i n e d i n a passage which describes Voss attending to the sick Le Mesurier. He was a l l tenderness f o r the patient, as I f he must show the extent of h i s c a p a b i l i t i e s . To dispense love, he remembered suddenly. I f nobody was impressed, i t was not that they suspected hypocrisy, but because they could expect anything of Voss. Or of God f o r that matter. In t h e i r confused state i t was d i f f i c u l t to d i s tinguish act from act, motive from motive, or to question why the supreme power should be divided i n two. (286) The i n d i v i d u a l components of t h i s d i v i s i o n do not r e a l l y matter, any more than i n the case of Hamlet a knowledge of the immediate causes of h i s torment w i l l lead to a f i n a l understanding of the speech to Guildenstern: "I w i l l t e l l you why...." In Voss. as i n Hamlet. i s dramatized the d i s l o c a t i o n of the s e l f when i t f i r s t becomes aware of the g u l f within between w i l l and desire, motive and act, a s p i r a t i o n and achievement, God and man.  It i s  Voss's recognition that "He was, a f t e r a l l , a man of great f r a i l t y , both physical and moral"(303) which prepares him f o r  91 the l o g i c a l outcome of his f i r s t giving Jackie the k n i f e . The young a b o r i g i n a l i s a member of a race almost unbelievably primitive, yet whose mysteries alone can contain the landscape i n which they are not so much inhabitants as elements, Jackie's explanation of the cave paintings with t h e i r combination of mysticism and crude realism, revolves around the escape of the s p i r i t from the body, and i t s subsequent immanence i n a l l t h i n g s — a n account of death which renders the isolated fact of physical death i n i t s e l f unimportant, and which makes of the aboriginal the ideal instrument of death and release. But the peculiar nature of Voss's death i s foreshadowed several times i n the novel, and i t s importance stressed throughout by recurring imagery of knives and s k u l l s . Sanderson's account at Rhine Towers of how he once came across a human s k u l l ; Palfreyman's v i s i o n of Voss's disembodied head; even the s p l i t t i n g of the party i t s e l f i n two—such incidents bring closer a l l the time the f i n a l destruction of Voss, as the head i s hacked laboriously from the body. The physical death i s a r i t u a l re-enactment of the state of inner d i v i s i o n which Voss has previously recognized, accepted, and overcome by humility: "0 Jesus", he c r i e d , "rette mich nurl Du lieber!"(415) ...Voss's own death becomes a mere formal a f f a i r , empty of s a c r i f i c i a l v i r t u e . For Voss at h i s death i s mere and humble man who c a l l s on God to save him.7 The significance of Voss's journey i s i n no way modified by i t s termination. His l i f e i s neither enhanced nor diminished by h i s death, the f i n a l mystery of which remains concealed.  92 As f o r the head-thing, i t knocked against a few stones, and l a y l i k e any melon. How much was l e f t of the man i t no longer represented? His dreams f l e d into the a i r , h i s blood ran out upon the dry earth, which drank i t up immediately. Whether dreams breed, or the earth responds to a pint of blood, the instant of death does not t e l l . (419) Some explanation i s now necessary of the role played by Laura Trevelyan i n the metamorphosis of Voss. The slow growth of selflessness and humility i n Voss can only come about through the constant presence of the dream-figure Laura, and i t i s important to remember that she i s , i n f a c t , a necessary projection of Voss himself, a constant, idealized figure o f f e r i n g solutions to his c o n f l i c t s and salve f o r h i s wounds, a conscience, a r e fuge, a torment, a strange o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of h i s own subconscious inner s e l f which he abandons when the metamorphosis i s complete, and there i s no longer any need f o r her. The dream Laura, i n f a c t , bears l i t t l e resemblance to the r e a l Laura who, once Voss has l e f t , repeats the same process, and out of the memory of Voss creates a necessary projection of h e r s e l f . But i n t h i s case there i s a s i g n i f i c a n t difference. From the dreamLaura Voss takes only as much as he requires to e f f e c t the transformation of h i s pride into humility. Laura, however, i n vests the dream-Voss with her own pride to such an extent that a monstrous blasphemy r e s u l t s which w i l l destroy her just as surely as Voss i s destroyed i n h i s humility. Laura i s d i s t i n c t from the society around: her not only by virtue of the accidents of i n t e l l i g e n c e and s e n s i t i v i t y and  93 an aversion to s o c i a l n i c e t i e s . The "flawless g i r l " who greets Voss at the opening of the novel has set herself apart f o r quite d e f i n i t e reasons. I f I am l o s t , then who can be saved; she was egot i s t enough to ask. She very badly wanted to make amends f o r the sins of others. ($0) The r e l i g i o u s i n s t r u c t i o n she has forsaken i n the cause of rationalism has merely been banished to the subconscious, and the  God " i n which she could not remain a convinced b e l i e v e r " r e -  appears i n the human form of Voss. Not only i s Laura elevated by t h i s manifestation, she i s also able to take upon herself the role of intercessor i n Voss's salvation. Voss i s thus f o r Laura what he i s at f i r s t f o r the members of the expedition—man and God; but whereas Voss's party f i n a l l y r e j e c t s h i s d i v i n i t y , Laura accepts and i n t e n s i f i e s , and ensures her own elevation by accepting Voss's proposal of marriage, i n reply to which she writes, at the end of her f i r s t l e t t e r to him, In any event, Mr Voss, I do thank you once again for your kind l e t t e r , and s h a l l intercede as ever for your safety and your happiness. (199) In a l a t e r and more cryptic l e t t e r Laura seems to resent the pride of Voss the man, which, she r e a l i z e s , w i l l hamper her own aspirations as the true Bride of Christ and Mother of God. I understand you are e n t i t l e d , as a man, to a greater share of pride, but would l i k e to see you humbled. Otherwise, I am a f r a i d f o r you. Two cannot share one throne. Even I would not wash your feet i f I might wash His. (256) At the time of t h i s l e t t e r , the emancipist servant Rose Portion has just recently died from c h i l d b i r t h , and the infant  94 has been adopted by Laura h e r s e l f . To the reader who has missed the overtones of the l e t t e r s and insisted on the true communion of Voss and Laura, the c h i l d device i s understandably confusing. To the marriage of t h e i r true minds, the c h i l d i s an impediment. One can see what White i s up to, a f t e r a fashion, but the very fact that he i s "up t o " something i s distressing.© What White i s "up t o " i s i n fact rather more than t h i s c r i t i c at least suspects, and i s only f u l l y understandable i n the l i g h t of Laura's fantasies, f o r Laura, parentless, has herself given vicarious b i r t h to the bastard daughter of Rose Portion. "Doves began to soothe", and "Laura Trevelyan b i t the inside of her cheek, as the c h i l d came away from her body".(246) Voss himself senses with some disgust the significance of t h i s n a t i v i t y . The dream-Laura appears to him: I f I have suffered the Father, she smiled, then I can suffer the Son. Immediately he sensed the matter had attained flesh-proportions, he was nauseated....1 am One he protested, forming the big 0 with h i s convinced mouth. (287) As Voss enters the dead center of the continent, Laura f a l l s  ill.  "I f e e l " , she t e l l s a doctor, "that the l i f e I am to l i v e i s already u t t e r l y beyond my control". (349) At t h i s stage sh;e becomes vaguely aware of the extent of her own blasphemy, since Voss, i n the section immediately prior to t h i s one, has announced that; he i s no longer Harry Robarts' Lord. She began to cough. Mrs Bonner was frightened. "Oh, dear, i t i s my throat. I t i s the t e r r i b l e Sun that he i s imitating. That i s what I must believe. I t i s a play. For anything else would be blasphemy". (395) Laura i s now obsessed with the idea of s a c r i f i c e . During the  95 fever her hair has been taken o f f , but t h i s i s not enough: she i s determined also to give up her f o s t e r - c h i l d . But these two acts, conceived by Laura as s a c r i f i c e s , are capable of a more profane interpretation. In her g u i l t , Laura i s doing penance f o r her blasphemous union with Voss. With t h i s interpretation, many l e v e l s of meaning become apparent i n a statement such as "...you see, I am w i l l i n g to give up so much to prove that human truths are also divine".(395) The sickness continues, and Laura's suffering increases, but the extent of her pride i s not f u l l y revealed u n t i l the c r i s i s , when she says, "Dear Christ, now at l a s t I understand your suffering".(410) By now Laura understands that Voss i s not, i n f a c t , God i n human form, and her e a r l i e r warning to him that "two cannot share one throne" takes on an added significance i n the l i g h t of the following: "Dear God", she c r i e d , gasping f o r breath, " i t i s so easy....except that man i s so shoddy, so contemptible, greedy, jealous, stubborn, ignorant. Who w i l l love him when I have gone? I only pray that God w i l l " . (411) In the l i g h t of her now confirmed elevation, the decision to send away the c h i l d Mercy can be shorn of i t s undertones of subconscious g u i l t and reinterpreted:"! know that my w i l l wavered, f o r which I hope I may be forgiven". (421) Some years l a t e r , Laura i s found to have r e t i r e d comp l e t e l y , " l i k e some f o o l i s h nun", as Mrs Bonner expresses i t . 9 But her seclusion i s inevitably threatened by the h i s t o r i c a l fact of,Voss, and Colonel Hebden, leader of a party sent out  96 to  search f o r what remains there may be of the o r i g i n a l exped-  i t i o n , returns as her f i r s t tormentor. In a close p a r a l l e l to the  f i n a l hours of Voss i n the twig hut, guarded by the old  aboriginal, Laura faces her own destruction. She was looking about her. Now she was caught. The l i t t l e summer-house was most s k i l f u l l y constructed, of c l o s e l y p l a i t e d twigs. I t had a deserted smell. She could not answer him, nor look, not even at h i s long hands. The silence was stretching. Then, when i t had a l most broken, she shuddered, and cried out: "You would cut my head off, i f l e t t i n g my blood run would do you any good". "It i s not f o r my sake. I t i s f o r Mr Voss". "Mr Voss i s already history". '.'But history i s never acceptable u n t i l i t i s s i f t e d f o r the t r u t h . Sometimes t h i s can never be reached*. She was hanging her head. She was h o r r i b l y twisted. "No, never", she agreed. " I t i s a l l l i e s . While there are men, there will.always be l i e s . I do not know the truth about myself, unless I sometimes dream i t " . (439) F i n a l judgment does not, however, f a l l on Laura u n t i l the r e appearance of the convict Judd, whom she meets a f t e r the o f f i c i a l unveiling of a statue of Voss. To her, Judd i s Voss himself, and the  truth i s no longer distorted by distance. Of dreadful metal, he towered above her, with h i s rather matted, g r i z z l e d h a i r , and burning desire for t r u t h . Her mouth was dry. Was he, then, the avenging angel? So i t appeared, as they struggled together. (470)  Judd gives an account of the expedition, concluding with the b e l i e f of the blacks that Voss i s s t i l l there, a l l pervasive. "Like a god, i n f a c t " , said Colonel Hebden, but laughed to show h i s scepticism. Judd looked up, out of the distance. "Voss? No. He was never God, though he l i k e d to  97 think that he was. Sometimes, when he forgot, he was a man". (472) Laura's f i n a l judgments of both Judd and Voss are at t h i s point t e r r i b l y confused. "Whether Judd i s an impostor, or a madman or simply a poor creature who has suffered too much, I am convinced that Voss had i n him a l i t t l e of Christ, l i k e other men. I f he was composed of e v i l along with the good, he struggled with that e v i l . And f a i l e d " . (474) As c l o s e l y wrought as The Aunt's Story and as large i n i t s scope as The Tree of Man. Voss i s the most successful and regarding of White's novels to date. I t s ironies and ambigui t i e s defy successful analysis, and White does not attempt to resolve the problems the novel poses. Rather, he examines them from a vast number of vantage points, and dramatizes them i n the  interactions set up between h i s two main characters, and be-  tween each of these and the s o c i e t i e s i n which they move. The central problem, carried through from the e a r l i e r novels, i s the  p o s s i b i l i t y of meaningful communication between individuals,  p a r t i c u l a r l y between individuals possessing s e n s i t i v i t y , i n t e l ligence, and the p o t e n t i a l i t y to expand and grow. These values,, inherent i n both Voss and Laura, are perverted by the w i l l , the complete destruction of which i s necessary i f the i n d i v i d u a l i s to be made content within himself and reconciled with the d i s p a r i t i e s of inner and outer worlds. A casual reading of Voss w i l l promote the f e e l i n g that Voss and Laura form a closed c i r c l e , custodians of truths from which ordinary mortals are barred.  98 I f there i s any l i v e d opposition i t i s by def a u l t ... .There i s i n f a c t a f a i l u r e to put up any sort of c r i t e r i o n , established as a dramat i c a c t u a l i t y , through which Voss can be opposed other than through h i s soul-mate Laura. There i s no l i v e d opposition that i s not seen as contemptible prejudice...against i n t e l l e c t and the strangeness of Voss.10 Apart from the f a c t that e g a l i t a r i a n sentiments have l i t t l e to do with White's investigation of the i n d i v i d u a l psyche, t h i s reaction, a common one i n c r i t i c i s m of White i n general and Voss i n p a r t i c u l a r , can only a r i s e from indifference to or ignorance of the true nature of the Voss-Laura r e l a t i o n s h i p , which might be termed an experiment that f a i l e d . Obsessed by the struggle between t h e i r two souls, they had threatened each other with the f l a s h i n g weapons of abstract reasoning, while overlooking the common need f o r sustenance. (203) What might be the nature of t h i s sustenance, and under what conditions i t might f l o u r i s h , are questions White does not answer i n t h i s novel, but, stated i n negative terms, i t can never come about when any attempt i s made to possess and reshape the other i n d i v i d u a l . By the end of Voss, White appears to r e ject the idea that i t is. ever possible f o r souls to merge and f o r minds to become one. Given time, the man and woman might have healed each other. That time was not given was t h e i r one sadness. But time i t s e l f i s a wound that w i l l not heal up. (408) Given the i n e x o r a b i l i t y of time, the l i m i t a t i o n s of abstract thought and concrete words, and the e s s e n t i a l i s o l a t i o n of the s e l f , can i n d i v i d u a l salvation and the v i n d i c a t i o n of the  99 i n d i v i d u a l l i f e be anything other than a b a t t l e waged i n a land "where no fellow f o o t f a l l i s ever heard"? The need to answer t h i s question i s the point of departure f o r Riders i n the Chariot.  100  FOOTNOTES  x  2  "The Prodigal Son", Australian Letters. I, 3, 1958, p.39. For a more detailed account of White's sources, see M. Aurousseau, "The Identity of Voss", Mean.iin. XVII, I, 1958, pp.85-87. Ibid.  3 Voss. London, 1957, p.9. A l l subsequent references are to this edition. ^ Review by Robert Fry, Australian Letters. I, 3, 1958, 5  p.41.  "Patrick White and the C r i t i c s " , Southerly. XX, 2, 1959, p.72.  ^ Geoffrey Button, Australian Writers and t h e i r Work: Patrick White. Melbourne, 1961, p.34. 7  Rorke, "Patrick White and the C r i t i c s " ,  p.71.  Dutton, p.38. 9  I t i s interesting i n t h i s respect to compare White's Laura with Katherine Anne Porter's character of the same name i n Flowering Judas. Porter bears close s t y l i s t i c resemblances to White i n any case, and t h e i r respective treatments of a woman destroyed by a s p i r i t u a l pride which i s i n essence blasphemous, are s t r i k i n g l y s i m i l a r . Peter Wood, "Moral Complexity i n Patrick White's Novels", Mean.iin. XXI, 1, 1962, p.26.  CHAPTER 7 RIDERS IN THE CHARIOT  The appearance of Riders i n the Chariot i n 1961 seemed to divide White's c r i t i c s into two implacably opposed camps. To those who a l l the long had rejected h i s style of writing, his treatment of A u s t r a l i a and Australians, and h i s predilection f o r mystical remoteness, the l a t e s t novel proved simply imposs i b l e to read; to h i s admirers i t represented a new peak of achievement (on i t s appearance White was canonized i n a review a r t i c l e i n the TLS), and was so stunning i n i t s impact on one c r i t i c as to make any sort of c r i t i c a l appraisal redundant: It seems to me that i t i s even above the l e v e l of a r t , and penetrates into what i s now the almost inaccessible realm of mystical experience. I t was,  1  of course, strongly evident that from The Aunt's Story  onwards White was primarily concerned with the p o s s i b i l i t y of a mystical union above physical r e a l i t y and yet immanent i n a l l i t s manifestations. In the e a r l i e r novels, however, the primary condition, f o r a t t a i n i n g transcendence was the retreat of the soul further and further into i t s e l f and away from the contingencies of the outer world. Thus detached, the i n d i v i d u a l was able to observe and partake of only what was found to be s i g n i f i c a n t ; by the process of exclusion he could i d e n t i f y with  102 the immanence of transcendent r e a l i t y i n a l l forms, yet remain free of the forms themselves, unaffected by the contingent aspects of physical r e a l i t y . Yet, paradoxically, acute perception of contingent r e a l i t y was the necessary condition f o r transcendence, f o r only through the i n t e n s i t i e s of f e e l i n g and emotion roused by the outer world was the soul made aware of i t s further p o t e n t i a l i t i e s . Here l a y the stumbling block: Theodora Goodman underwent torment and madness before achieving serenity; Doll Quigley committed murder and Mr Gage hanged hims e l f ; Voss had h i s head severed from h i s body and Laura  was  destroyed by i l l u s i o n s of pride. None on t h e i r journeys received sustenance from other souls which was not a potential or actual betrayal, and none had preconceived ideas as to how t h e i r s a l vation might be achieved (Voss's acceptance of the Christian concept of salvation does not occur u n t i l the end of the novel, and even then White i s non-committal as to i t s f i n a l e f f i c a c y ) . This emphasis on i s o l a t i o n from other individuals and from any shared body of thought f u l f i l l e d White's need to examine i n i t s uttermost depths the mystery of the s e l f ; i t also caused t h i s sort of comment: This conception of man i s undignified. I t conceives of man i n i s o l a t i o n from man, s e l f i s h l y working out his own salvation, giving nothing i n human r e l a t i o n ship except humility, and taking a l l i n acts of penance.  2  I f the conception of dignity implied i n the above i s one White would not accept, i t nevertheless seems evident that while writing Riders i n the Chariot he f e l t that the besetting prob-  103 lems of the i n d i v i d u a l c o u l d o n l y be f u r t h e r i l l u m i n a t e d  by  c r e a t i n g a number o f c h a r a c t e r s l i n k e d t o g e t h e r i n t h e i r need f o r transcendence and s a l v a t i o n by a shared, i f not r a t i o n a l l y acknowledged, body of b e l i e f . On f i r s t r e f l e c t i o n , White's use o f the p r i n c i p l e s o f K a b b a l i s t i c and Z o h a r i c m y s t i c i s m as the apparent  doctrinal  framework of the n o v e l seems p u z z l i n g , and d i f f i c u l t t o j u s t i f y a g a i n s t the background o f the e a r l i e r n o v e l s . The immediately r a i s e d : how  questions are  s e r i o u s l y does White i n t e n d the reader  t o regard these m y s t i c a l d o c t r i n e s of an obscure and  esoteric  Jewish p h i l o s o p h i c movement? What r e l e v a n c e can these d o c t r i n e s have t o the c h a r a c t e r s and s i t u a t i o n s o f the n o v e l , and t o what extent i s an understanding of them necessary t o an understanding of the n o v e l as a whole? To i n t r o d u c e such q u e s t i o n s a t t h i s stage might g i v e the impression t h a t R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t i s a roman a c l e f . I f such indeed were the case, the s t a t u r e of the n o v e l would be g r e a t l y d i m i n i s h e d ; t h a t i t i s not the case can be a t l e a s t p a r t i a l l y demonstrated  by r e f e r r i n g t o the  q u o t a t i o n from Blake w i t h which White p r e f a c e s the n o v e l : The Prophets I s a i a h and E z e k i e l d i n e d w i t h me, and I asked them how they dared so r o u n d l y t o a s s e r t t h a t God spoke t o them; and whether they d i d not t h i n k a t the time t h a t they c o u l d be misunderstood, & so be the cause of i m p o s i t i o n . I s a i a h answer'd: " I saw no God, nor heard any, i n a f i n i t e o r g a n i c a l p e r c e p t i o n ; but my senses d i s c o v e r ' d the i n f i n i t e i n e v e r y t h i n g , and as I was then perswaded, & remain confirm'd, t h a t the v o i c e of honest i n d i g n a t i o n -is the v o i c e o f God, I cared not f o r consequences, but wrote...."  104 I then asked E z e k i e l why he eat dung, & l a y so long on h i s r i g h t and l e f t side? he answer'd, "The desire of r a i s i n g other men into a perception of the i n f i n i t e : t h i s the North American t r i b e s practise, & i s he honest who r e s i s t s his genius or conscience only f o r the sake of present ease or g r a t i f i c a t i o n ? " 3 Here i s obliquely stated White's own r e l a t i o n to the mystical center of. the novel, and his j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r choosing such a center. The logic behind his choice i s not that of c a r e f u l l y contrived relationships and p a r a l l e l s — R i d e r s i n the Chariot i s too diffuse to be an a l l e g o r y . As E z e k i e l points out to Blake's voice of reason, the means are u n i m p o r t a n t — a l l that matters i s the r a i s i n g of other men "into a perception of the i n f i n i t e " . But t h i s perception can only be arrived at, i n terms of the novel, when the formal aspects, the structure, the characters, the patterns of symbols, become as i t were transparent, and only the perception, that which the formal aspects s i g n i f y , remains. In minor or second-rate such a transparence  novels (or any other a r t forms),  cannot occur: the t r i c k s and devices of the  c r a f t are there f o r t h e i r own sake, and the symbols remain opaque, means rather than ends. In Riders i n the Chariot the major symbols seem to be sometimes a r b i t r a r i l y imposed, and i n t h i s respect at least the no.vel i s unusual i n the present t i m e — l i t t l e attempt i s made to explain the Chariot, the F i e r y Furnace, the sparks of the Shechinah, the C r u c i f i x i o n , and the other derived symbols, i n terms which bind them i n d i s s o l u b l y to the characters and action of the novel. White's method of ensuring that the mystical r e a l i t y expressed by the symbols i s i n no way  105 diminished by the exigencies of character and plot, r e s u l t s i n a c e r t a i n detachment of the symbols, and gives r i s e to the c r i t i c i s m that they have no r e a l grounding i n the novel. But only i f the Chariot, f o r instance, i s regarded as important i n i t s e l f , does the coming together of four v i s i o n a r i e s , a l l of whom have had d i r e c t experience of i t , seem a manipulated coincidence on the part of the author. The v a l i d i t y of the symbols themselves depends not on the action of the novel, but on the nature of the v i s i o n they convey, and as an awareness of t h i s v i s i o n i s b u i l t up i n the reader's mind, the importance of the symbolic form i n i t s e l f diminishes, and the l i g h t of the central v i s i o n r e f l e c t s back through the forms to illuminate a l l the incidents of the novel. White has chosen Jewish mysticism as the vehicle f o r his v i s i o n , not through any desire to be d e l i b e r a t e l y abstruse, but because here he has found a formalization and imagery whose t o t a l impact i s intended f o r the senses rather than the i n t e l l e c t . Such an incident as Miss Hare's f i r s t v i s i o n of the Chariot becomes immediately s i g n i f i c a n t because of the sensuous power with which i t i s described, a power White no doubt found present i n his o r i g i n a l sources, and which i s f a m i l i a r already to most people through the Old Testament. The symbols of Riders i n the Chariot, then, derived from varying sources, r e f e r always to the central mystical v i s i o n which informs every aspect of t h i s extremely complex novel.  106 The first  complexity  of R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t may  be  explained  i n p u r e l y s t r u c t u r a l terms. Four main c h a r a c t e r s , the f o u r  " r i d e r s " , dominate the book; i n a d d i t i o n t o these t h e r e are at l e a s t f o r t y other c h a r a c t e r s who t e n t i o n . The  are g i v e n a g r e a t d e a l of a t -  immediate s e t t i n g i s r e m i n i s c e n t o f The  Tree  M a n — a r e g i o n on the o u t s k i r t s of Sydney which i s being  of  slowly  swallowed up by the m e t r o p o l i s . The time span f o r the a c t u a l events o f the n o v e l i s comparatively book i s taken up w i t h the l i f e Mrs  s h o r t , but over h a l f the  s t o r i e s of M i s s Hare, Himmelfarb,  Godbold and A l f Dubbo, and the s e t t i n g s f o r these  long  f l a s h b a c k s vary from E a s t A n g l i a and C e n t r a l Europe to I s r a e l and n o r t h e r n New  South Wales. From the s t a r t , l i t t l e attempt i s  made by White t o impose some h i e r a r c h y of order on t h i s crowded canvas. Backwaters and byways are m e t i c u l o u s l y c h a r t e d , t h e r e are numerous d i g r e s s i o n s , d e s c r i p t i o n s and d e t a i l s , and as i n Dostoievsky,  i t seems as i f the hand of the author  found wearisome the t a s k o f keeping  often, has  e v e r y t h i n g under c o n t r o l .  Yet the f i g u r e i n the c a r p e t does emerge. The n o v e l i s , i n e f f e c t , a v a s t d i a l o g u e between, good and e v i l . The' d i a l e c t i c which i s s u s t a i n e d throughout i s as f i r m l y c o n t r o l l e d as the Voss-Laura d i a l e c t i c i n Voss. In f o r m u l a t i n g t h i s d i a l e c t i c , the use White makes of 'minor c h a r a c t e r s ' and portance.  'background m a t e r i a l s ' i s of major im-  In The Aunt's S t o r y these are f i l t e r e d and  through the consciousness  o f Theodora Goodman; i n The  transformed Tree of  Man  107 they are a prevalent but subdued undertone of an  ever-encroach-  ing c i t y and the people i t brings with i t ; i n Voss the s o c i a l l i f e of Sydney, f o r a l l i t s b r i l l i a n t observation, i s kept subs i d i a r y to the figure of Laura Trevalyan, and the other expedi t i o n members never dominate the figure of Voss himself. White's treatment  of society as a whole was as a comedy of manners  against which the more important i n d i v i d u a l destinies were played out. But i n The Tree of Man and Voss there are increasing indications that the problems of good and e v i l transcend the i n d i v i d u a l consciousness, and must somehow be treated on a correspondingly larger scale. The r e s u l t i n Riders i n the Chariot i s an i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n of s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m to a point where the delineation of society becomes a far-reaching examination  of the  p r i n c i p l e s of good and e v i l . That a novelist can conduct t h i s examination  i n an Australian suburb of a l l places i s s u f f i c i e n t  i n d i c a t i o n that more than mere s a t i r e i s intended—homo a u s t r a l i e n s i s i s not p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n himself, but, as a sub-species of homo sapiens, i s quite capable of the enormities of behavior he would prefer to ignore. The idea...that l i f e i t s e l f might be a conscious choice of e v i l s has not permeated Australian society. In such a world, White's Riders i n the Chariot i s a r a b b i t - k i l l e r , a blow so f o u l i t can be forgotten only i n the sensual orgy of the A g r i c u l t u r a l Show which each c a p i t a l stages annually; t h e r e — s i g h t , sound, smell and t o u c h — a l l combine to remind us of our world of onceupon-a-time....Even White has not yet h i t us hard enough to expose that show f o r what i t i s , to make us acknowledge exactly what we are.4  108 White's exposure of Australian s o c i a l patterns i s at i t s most deadly i n t h i s novel, and i f the only available t o o l i s a sledge hammer, White w i l l use i t , to demolish everything from the h a l lowed concepts of mateship to the orange-brick, walnut-veneer monstrosities which c o l l e c t i v e l y embody the essence of the 'desirable Australian home'. In a l e t t e r quoted by Geoffrey Button, White says of Riders i n the Chariot: There i s c e r t a i n l y b i t t e r comedy or s a t i r e running a l l through i t , f o r i t i s about contemporary Austr a l i a . But i t i s too b i g and rambling to support the term "comedy"; that suggests to me something compact and complete i n i t s e l f . 5 White must force his reader to acknowledge the r e a l i t y of e v i l i n a society which i s c o l l e c t i v e l y unable to do so. Only with t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n can the reader become involved i n the openingout process which follows the exposure; only when the pervasiveness of e v i l i s recognized w i l l the story of the Jew, Himmelfarb, take on i t s proper significance. And White resorts to violent measures to convey the e v i l ; as Mr Heseltine remarks with some sadness: It i s , I think, a new and profound insight into the Australian character that we have the s p i r i t ual capacity to conduct a c r u c i f i x i o n ; i t i s scarcely a soothing one.° In Riders i n the Chariot the power f o r e v i l which r e sults i n the c r u c i f i x i o n of Himmelfarb emanates from an u n l i k e l y source—two suburban matrons, who present a picture at once comic, grotesque and t e r r i f y i n g . White unashamedly brings a l l his nastiness to bear i n h i s depiction of Mrs Flack and Mrs  109 J o l l e y — t w o f a t f u r i e s who  c a s t t h e i r s p e l l s from behind  pastel  V e n e t i a n s . Between them they embody a l l the m a l i c e of the world, d i s g u i s e d beneath  cups of t e a , eiderdowns and the sentiments of  motherhood. T h e i r s i g h t s are s e t on Xanadu, the crumbling  folly  i n which Miss Hare has l i v e d s i n c e c h i l d h o o d , and on a l l the people who set  a t one time or another congregate t h e r e . Xanadu i s  on a h i l l o p p o s i t e S a r s a p a r i l l a , w h i l e the v a l l e y between  i s occupied by Himmelfarb and Mrs Godbold. The a b o r i g i n a l A l f Dubbo has  'no f i x e d a d d r e s s ' . The g e o g r a p h i c a l d i s t r i b u t i o n of  c h a r a c t e r s i s of c o n s i d e r a b l e importance  t o the n o v e l , but f o r  the moment i t i s s u f f i c i e n t t o r e a l i z e t h a t a b a t t l e between f o r c e s of good and e v i l i s b e i n g drawn up, and t h a t Mrs f o r a y , i n t r o d u c e d i n the f i r s t  Jolley's  pages of the n o v e l , i n t o the  t e r r i t o r y o f Miss Hare a t Xanadu, r e p r e s e n t s the f i r s t  actual  engagement. S t a t e d thus b a l d l y , the c o n f l i c t might seem to partake of a l l the elements  of crude melodrama, u n t i l i t i s d i s -  covered t h a t the l i n e s of demarcation are not a t a l l as  clear  as they seem. F a i l u r e t o r e c o g n i z e t h i s f a c t , t h a t White i s not d e a l i n g w i t h moral a b s o l u t e s , w i l l l e a d t o m i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n from the  start:  . . . h i s a d m i r a t i o n s and contempts are u l t i m a t e l y p a t r i c i a n : t h e r e i s no mean worth h i s a t t e n t i o n between the h i g h e s t and the low. And t h i s i s perhaps the s e r i o u s d e f e c t of h i s n o v e l s , t h a t sympathy i s occluded f o r the m i d d l i n g damned, although not h i s understanding.7 That t h e r e e x i s t such beings as the "middling damned" i s i t s e l f t h e o l o g i c a l l y dubious, and such an assumption  i n any case shows  110 a misunderstanding of the nature  of the c o n f l i c t i n the  novel,  but a misunderstanding which i s e a s i l y accounted f o r when some of White's methods of d e p i c t i n g and are examined. At one where Mrs  Godbold  e x t e r i o r i z i n g the  conflict  stage Himmelfarb i s l o o k i n g a t the shed  lives:  I t d i d seem as though goodness had been sown around the brown house below the p o s t - o f f i c e , and might grow, provided the f o r c e s o f e v i l d i d not stamp i t flat.8 Miss Hare t r i e s t o r e c a l l Himmelfarb's e x p r e s s i o n of l o v i n g kindness " t h a t alone might save, i f i t were not o b l i t e r a t e d first  by c o n s p i r a c y of e v i l minds",(320) and when he does come  back t o Xanadu, she says t o  him,  "I t h i n k you mentioned...that we were l i n k s i n some c h a i n . I am convinced myself t h a t there are two c h a i n s . Matched a g a i n s t each o t h e r . I f Mrs J o l l e y and Mrs F l a c k were the o n l y two l i n k s i n t h e i r s , then, of course, we should have nothing t o f e a r . But". (328) The  s u s p i c i o n has l o n g ago  i n a s u b l i m i n a l way) " c h a i n s " , and melfarb  entered Miss Hare's mind  (admittedly  t h a t she h e r s e l f i s i n v o l v e d i n both  she l o o k s t o Himmelfarb f o r d e n i a l of t h i s . Him-  i s mute on the s u b j e c t , r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t the  conflict  cannot thus be taken out o f the arena o f the i n d i v i d u a l cons c i o u s n e s s , t h a t the sense o f g u i l t , the awareness of c u l p a b i l i t y , i s the f i r s t necessary  personal  step towards atonement.  There i s no c h a r a c t e r i n R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t who not f a c e d a t some time w i t h h i s or her own  g u i l t . Refusal  is by  the i n d i v i d u a l to accept t h i s g u i l t , or h i s attempt t o t r a n s f e r  Ill i t to others equally incapable of accepting i t , might be said to lead to ultimate damnation, were i t not f o r the fact that the l i f e of t h i s i n d i v i d u a l i s already a h e l l to be endured: by r e j e c t i n g the p o s s i b i l i t y of e v i l i n himself, he also rejects the p o s s i b i l i t y of good, and f o r t h i s he pays dearly. The  inter-  dependence of good and e v i l i s a theme that has been touched on before by White, but here i t i s of p a r t i c u l a r importance i n an adequate explanation of the symbol of the Chariot. More immediately related to the p r i n c i p l e s of good-and-evil, however, and serving to lead up to the Chariot, i s the image of the Shechinah, the indwelling of the godhead i n the physical world. Thus did l i g h t and darkness, good and e v i l , begin to contend f o r the mastery of the world. The Divine harmony was disrupted and the Shechinah e x i l e d . At the same time, scattered hither and t h i t h e r , the sparks of Divine Light intersected everywhere the darkness, with the r e s u l t that e v i l and good became so mixed that there i s no e v i l that does not contain an element of good, not i s there a good e n t i r e l y free from e v i l . 9 To redeem the world from t h i s state of d i v i s i o n i s the task imposed on I s r a e l by the Covenants, and each man  has i t i n his  power to bring back the Shechinah from e x i l e and thus bridge the gap between good and e v i l . In the l i g h t of t h i s , the  signi-  ficance of White's use of the Chariot seems c l e a r . The Riders i n the Chariot are not those who,  by predestination, comprise the  E l e c t , the Saved—they are those who  by the supreme exercise of  love and of the w i l l have transcended good and e v i l , the basic duality of the world, and are returned to the primal condition of Adam Kadmon, the condition of universal l i g h t . However, only  112 one of the four Riders i s Jewish—the others have no knowledge of the redemptive power with which they are invested. Their perception of the Chariot i s i n a l l four cases r a d i c a l l y d i f ferent, as are t h e i r basic natures and the functions they perform i n the novel. Much c r i t i c i s m of Riders i n the Chariot has revolved around t h e i r relations to each other and to the v i s i o n of the Chariot which appears to be t h e i r only common f a c t o r . The fact that the four main characters are s p e c i f i c a l l y referred to as "Riders i n the Chariot" does not mean ipso facto that they are part of a universal Elect; indeed, the doctrine of E l e c t i o n i s as foreign to the Zoharic teaching as i t i s to Taoist and Hindu mysticism. A misunderstanding  of t h i s point  results i n the sort of c r i t i c i s m l e v e l l e d at White i n his previous novels, c r i t i c i s m of his supposed 'closed c i r c l e s ' : So f a r as White's myth of the Chariot of Revelation has a schematised theology i t appears to place value, not on the redemption of mankind but only on the difference of the saints. The elect can make no human contact, except with others of the e l e c t ; except, that i s , with those who have faced the horror, the boredom and the cruelty of l i f e and seen i t f o r what i t i s . I t depends which side of the mirror you are on.10 I t must be borne i n mind that the actual instances of physical contact between the four main characters are surprisingl y few. At no stage do the four ever come together at the same time. Yet the b r i e f contacts they do make with each other are far-reaching i n t h e i r consequences. They are i n a way prepared f o r these encounters  during the whole of t h e i r previous l i v e s ,  113 which a r e recorded  i n s u f f i c i e n t d e t a i l t o d e s t r o y the n o t i o n  t h a t the f l a s h b a c k s a r e i r r e l e v a n t , o r t h a t the f i n a l  proximity  o f t h e f o u r t o each o t h e r a t S a r s a p a r i l i a r e p r e s e n t s an i n f r a n g i b l e union which d e s t r o y s the s e l f and o b l i t e r a t e s the p a s t . Union there i s , but i n keeping w i t h the d o c t r i n e s o f atonement u n d e r l y i n g the n o v e l , none o f the f o u r i s by t h i s union so transformed life,  as t o break the i n d i v i d u a l c o n t i n u i t y o f h i s own  and t o d e s t r o y the f u n c t i o n w i t h which he i s u n i q u e l y en-  dowed. Mutual r e c o g n i t i o n o f the i n d i v i d u a l and i n v i o l a b l e center  i s indeed one o f t h e f a c t o r s t h a t does b i n d them t o g e t h e r ,  j u s t as the d e n i a l o f p r i v a c y i s , on a lower l e v e l , e s s e n t i a l to  the hatred propagated from the b r i c k home on M i l d r e d S t r e e t .  But t h a t the f o u r main c h a r a c t e r s do share common i s obvious. Apart  something more i n  from the f a c t t h a t a l l have a t some  stage encountered e v i l and g u i l t w i t h i n themselves, White g i v e s no i n d i c a t i o n o f any common p a t t e r n which might emerge from t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e h i s t o r i e s . T h e i r common q u a l i t y can be approached f i r s t  o f a l l by examining t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p t h a t e x i s t s  between the i n d i v i d u a l s e l f and the o u t s i d e w o r l d . Jack L i n d s a y states that, In R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t White t r i e s t o overcome the r a t h e r c r u s h i n g monotony o f a v i s i o n o f mere a l i e n a t i o n by adding as sympathetic c h a r a c t e r s the few who by t o t a l l y and v o l u n t a r i l y c o n t r a c t ing out o f a c o r r u p t e d world achieve t h e v i s i o n of wholeness, o f union w i t h u n i v e r s a l l i f e . He comes c l o s e r here t o communicating a genuine h o r r o r and t o d e f i n i n g the e x i s t e n c e o f pure w e l l s o f f e e l i n g amid the s o c i a l l y demented scene; but the i n a b i l i t y t o d e a l w i t h more than t h e hopel e s s l y i s o l a t e d i n d i v i d u a l deadens the i m p a c t . 1 1  114 Although i t may  appear that Miss Hare and Himmelfarb have 'con-  tracted out , the charge can c e r t a i n l y not be l e v e l l e d at 1  Mrs  Godbold and A l f Dubbo, most of whose l i v e s have been spent desperately involved i n the 'corrupted world'. But i n any case, the i n d i v i d u a l who  has acknowledged his own g u i l t can hardly be  said to have 'contracted out' (the figure of Harry Rosetree, who  does attempt to do t h i s without acknowledging h i s g u i l t ,  and who  f i n a l l y commits suicide, i s Himmelfarb's obvious counter-  p a r t ) . Lindsay comes closer to the point when he defines the four Riders as "pure wells of f e e l i n g " , but goes on to describe them as "hopelessly i s o l a t e d " — a reversion to the former f a l l a c y , and a seeming contradiction i n terms: can a pure well of f e e l i n g be thus limited? The i n v i o l a b l e center, which each of the four seeks to discover and define i n his own way, which he may  become a pure and transparent  i s the means by  vessel of experience.  Theodora Goodman found t h i s center at the cost of her own  iden-  t i t y , but i n Riders i n the Chariot the i n d i v i d u a l i d e n t i t y i s not necessarily destroyed,  but i s expanded into a vessel large  enough to contain a l l apparent contradictions within i t s e l f . When t h i s center i s not found, the vessel of experience i s opaque; the i n d i v i d u a l i s constricted and forced i n upon hims e l f , seeking his eventual release i n acts of deliberate malevolence. The nature of the center i s such that awareness of i t s existence immediately establishes a bond with others likewise aware; but i t cannot be c a l l e d into existence u n t i l i t s possib i l i t y i s recognized, and i t i s f i n a l l y t h i s f a c t that accounts  115 for the gulf between Sarsaparilla and Xanadu. The search f o r t h i s center by the four Riders i s expressed i n the novel by the imagery of the Shechinah, the i n dwelling l i g h t which seeks to be reunited with i t s source, the f i n a l coming together being the v i s i o n of the Chariot, where immanence and transcendence,  the dual aspects of godhead, are  no longer separate. To a l l four i s t h i s state of f i n a l unity the sought end, and the end they recognize i n each other. Despite White's use of Kabbalistic imagery to express t h i s end, the meaning i s equally clear i f conceived of i n other than Messianic t e r m s — f o r instance, the union of Atman, immanent godhead, and Brahman, transcendent godhead, i n the state of Nirvana.12 What each Rider recognizes i n the others i s - a transparence which w i l l help lead to greater knowledge of the Chariot, and to the f i n a l moment of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n . When Himmelfarb returns to Xanadu at Miss Hare's request, he recognizes the true nature of what i t i s that l i n k s them: She was at her u g l i e s t , wet and matted, but any disgust which Himmelfarb might have f e l t was swallowed up i n the conviction that, despite the differences of geography and race, they were, and always had been, engaged on a s i m i l a r mission. Approaching from opposite d i r e c t i o n s , i t was the same darkness and the same marsh which threatened to engulf t h e i r movements, but however lumbering and impeded those movements might be, the precious parcel of secrets carried by each must only be given at the end into certain hands. (327) Himmelfarb's r e a l i z a t i o n that he and Miss Hare are approaching t h e i r common goal "from opposite d i r e c t i o n s " underlines  116 the complete separateness  of t h e i r l i v e s up to the present, and  though linked by a common awareness of the Chariot and a l l i t s i g n i f i e s , i n a l l other respects the four Riders are notable for  t h e i r extreme d i s s i m i l a r i t i e s . Such i s White's s k i l l i n  building up the 'inner structure' of the novel that no one of the four assumes thematic domination over the others; the funct i o n of each complements those of the other three, and even i n the t e c h n i c a l i t i e s of style and character delineation, no  two  are handled i n the same way. In many ways a development of Theodora Goodman, Miss Hare, the most s t r i k i n g and b r i l l i a n t l y executed character i n the novel, i s the f o c a l point of the f i r s t hundred pages. At the beginning of the story she i s an e p i l e p t i c l i v i n g alone i n the crumbling mansion, Xanadu, b u i l t by her father, an eccentric visionary who who  knew well "the caverns measureless to man",  and  never forgave his daughter f o r perceiving t h i s knowledge.  Xanadu i t s e l f was once a place where "gilded mirrors led by subtle, receding stages f a r beyond the bounds of vision".(17) But now,  i n the slow process of decay, i t has suffered the fate  which threatened Meroe, the incursion of the natural world. Old birds' nests, l y i n g on the Aubusson, or what had become, rather, a carpet of twigs, dust, mildew and the chrysalides of insects, trapped g u i l t y feet with soft reminders.... i n the course of some h i s t o r i c storm, an elm had entered in....the early leaves pierced the more passive colours of human refinement l i k e a k n i f e . (41) In the midst of the decay, Miss Hare "wandered here and there,  117 l e t t i n g i n always more l i g h t " . ( 3 7 ) Much o f the time, beneath her  wicker hat, Miss Hare i s h a r d l y r e c o g n i z a b l e as a human  b e i n g — s h e i s a s c a r c e l y t a n g i b l e o b j e c t , i d e n t i f i e d by and w i t h t h a t n a t u r a l world which has invaded Xanadu and which the s o l i d b r i c k homes keep a t bay w i t h v i g i l a n c e and lawnmowers. In h e r s e l f she i s clumsy, u g l y and u n g a i n l y , s e e k i n g a t a l l times t h a t r e l e a s e which comes o n l y w i t h a n n i h i l a t i o n o f the s e l f : " E v e n t u a l l y I s h a l l d i s c o v e r what i s a t the c e n t r e , i f enough of me  i s peeled away".(51) I t i s emphasized  e a r l y t h a t Miss Hare  has no p a r t i n a r a t i o n a l , e t h i c a l world. Amoral, and f r i g h t e n e d of r e l i g i o u s concepts, she needs no baptism i n t o  'higher r e a l i -  ties' : ...she, Miss Hare, whose eyes were always p r o b i n g , f i n g e r s t r y i n g , would a c h i e v e the e c s t a s y of comp l e t e , a n n i h i l a t i n g l i b e r a t i o n without any such immersion. (8) Xanadu becomes "a temple o f mystic contemplation devoid of r a t i o n a l d i r e c t i o n " , ^ and t o t h i s temple of i r r a t i o n a l i t y come, at  one stage ot another, each o f the o t h e r t h r e e R i d e r s . But i t  i s the dreaded a r r i v a l of a housekeeper, Mrs J o l l e y , which i n t r o d u c e s Miss Hare i n t o the presence o f anguish and  guilt.  The C h a r i o t appears t o Miss Hare o n l y a t times of p h y s i c a l c r i s i s . At such times, d u r i n g her p e r i o d i c f i t s ,  she  i s s e i z e d w i t h t e r r o r , and a d e s i r e t o i d e n t i f y the occupants of the  C h a r i o t o f which she can hear o n l y the t r a c e - c h a i n s , and  f e e l o n l y the impact of the wheels. Her f a t h e r once asked: are  the r i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t , eh, Mary? Who  "Who  i s ever going t o  118 know?"(20) But Miss Hare, "whose own v i s i o n never formed, r e maining a confusion of l i g h t , at most an outline of vague and f i e r y pain",(67) has f i r s t to undergo a s p i r i t u a l c r i s i s at the hands of her tormentor Mrs J o l l e y . Mrs J o l l e y , p a r t i a l to kiddies, f l u f f y sponges and pastel shades, and determined that "at least she would remain a lady, whatever else might come i n doubt",(51) brings with her into the world of Xanadu not only the trappings of conventional morality, but something more dangerous and insidious, the machinations of Mrs Flack,  who,  "through the medium of Mrs J o l l e y , insinuated herself into the cracks i n the actual stone".(79) But only a f t e r her term of t r i a l with Mrs J o l l e y does Miss Hare f u l l y recognize the power of e v i l . " A l l bad things have a family resemblance, Mrs J o l l e y , and are e a s i l y recognizable. I would recognize Mrs Flack however often she changed her hat. I can smell her when you do not mention her by name". (316) Before gaining t h i s knowledge, however, ...she had had l i t t l e experience of e v i l . Newspapers she never read; l i v i n g , not reading about i t , had been her l i f e . So the world had revolved on the axis with which she had provided i t , u n t i l Mrs J o l l e y brought the virtues to Xanadu. (61) What t h i s means to Miss Hare becomes o f f i c i a l l y inscribed i n pink l e t t e r s on a cake Mrs J o l l e y bakes—FOR A BAD GIRL. Through the medium of a corrupt and self-appointed 'conscience', Miss Hare i s brought to recognize her own p o t e n t i a l i t y f o r e v i l . Days a f t e r the l e t t e r i n g had been consumed, Miss Hare was haunted by the pink cake. She must, she would understand i t , though there were pockets  119 of thought which her mind r e f u s e d t o e n t e r , l i k e those e v i l t h i c k e t s i n which might be found l i t t l e , a g o n i z i n g t u f t s o f f u r , broken swallows' eggs, o r a goat's r a t i o n a l s k u l l . (61) For  Mrs J o l l e y l e a r n s t h a t , i n circumstances never made e n t i r e l y  c l e a r , M i s s Hare was somehow r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the burning of a goat i n a back shed, and f o r the death by drowning o f her f a t h e r , whom she made l i t t l e attempt t o save, and may even have pushed under. The p a r a l l e l s here w i t h the death o f Mrs J o l l e y ' s own husband, by s p i r i t u a l i f not p h y s i c a l murder, a r e obvious, and i n a re-enactment o f the b a l l s which were once h e l d a t Xanadu, M i s s Hare and Mrs J o l l e y dance t o g e t h e r . "However much you i n t e n d t o hurt me, I s h a l l not. be h u r t " , M i s s Hare c a l l e d . " I s h a l l not watch". But f o l l o w e d a f t e r — o r c o u l d she have been l e a d i n g ? — i n her wicker h a t . (87) A f t e r t h i s sudden exposure o f the dance, Mrs J o l l e y suggests t h a t t h e y a r e two o f a k i n d ; but "Miss Hare c o u l d not accept the p o s s i b i l i t y o f t h a t , and was r o o t l i n g i n remote r e c e s s e s f o r some evidence o f her own e l e c t i o n " . ( 9 0 ) ^ F i n d i n g no evidence, she runs o u t s i d e and i n t o t h e orchard, where she meets Himmelfarb for  the f i r s t  time. The s t o r y t h a t he t e l l s her, the s t o r y o f  his  own l i f e ,  b r i n g s h e r i n t o a new awareness o f e v i l as an  operative p r i n c i p l e — b u t  still  she w i l l not accept i t s presence,  t h e r e , under the t r e e : "how can we look out from under t h i s t r e e , and not know t h a t a l l  i s good?"(162) And s t i l l ,  like  Himmelfarb,  she does not r e c o g n i z e the R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t . On the morning o f Mrs J o l l e y ' s departure, the house-  120 keeper accuses Miss Hare of c o n s o r t i n g i n the o r c h a r d w i t h "a d i r t y Jew".  I n a t r a v e s t y of p i e t y , she demands,  "Who d i d the Jews c r u c i f y ? " "The Jew!" Miss Hare panted. " I know t h a t . Because Peg used t o t e l l me. I t was h o r r i b l e . And b l o o d running out of h i s hands, and down h i s poor s i d e . I have never allowed myself t o t h i n k about i t " . (317) Not u n t i l she has stood i n the f i r e of Himmelfarb's  burning  shack, and tended the Jew i n the D e p o s i t i o n scene a t the end of the book, does the a c t u a l i t y o f s u f f e r i n g and e v i l emerge f o r her i n complete  c l a r i t y , a l o n g w i t h a new-found power of l o v e .  I n order t o l o v e and honour the more, she had i n v e s t e d the Jew w i t h a goodness so pure as t o render the possessor p r a c t i c a l l y powerless a g a i n s t the consummate forms of e v i l . (454) I n e x p i a t i o n f o r the burning of the goat and the drowning  of her  f a t h e r , she has h e r s e l f gone through the f i r e . "So Miss Hare was translated".(465)  Cshe] had, i n f a c t , entered t h a t s t a t e o f complete u n i o n which her nature had never y e t a c h i e v e d . . . . So she wrapped and c h e r i s h e d the heavenly s p i r i t which had entered her, q u i t e simply and p a i n l e s s l y , as Peg had suggested t h a t i t might. And a l l the dancing demons f l e d out....And the stones of Xanadu could crumble, and she would touch i t s k i n d e r d u s t . She h e r s e l f would embrace the dust, the s p i r i t of which she was a b l e t o understand a t l a s t . (471) The end o f Miss Hare i s t o become " a l l - p e r v a s i v e " , and her rumored death by drowning-is i n i t s e l f of no importance. Subs c r i b i n g t o no dogmas o f reason or i n t e l l e c t , and g e n e r a l l y conceded t o be q u i t e mad,  Miss Hare i s an embodiment o f t h a t  s p i r i t of p r i m i t i v e animism which sounds so i n s i s t e n t l y i n White's work. Her own f i n a l t r a n s l a t i o n i s more remote and  121  i n e f f a b l e than those o f the o t h e r t h r e e , and she h e r s e l f i s t h e most u n r e a l o f the f o u r R i d e r s , having about her the enavescence of  a p u r e l y i m a g i n a t i v e r e a l i t y . But her r e a l i t y i s such t h a t  she alone has the c a p a c i t y t o seem t o escape the c o n t r o l l i n g hand o f the author;  she might gather up i n t o her own r e a l i t y  a l l the other c h a r a c t e r s and events o f the n o v e l . In many ways d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed t o Miss Hare i s the f i g u r e o f Mordecai of  Himmelfarb, who, burdened w i t h the f a i l u r e  i n t e l l e c t and the weight o f g u i l t , r e p r e s e n t s an attempt on  White's p a r t t o come t o terms w i t h the p a r t i c u l a r tragedy o f the t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y . U n l i k e Miss Hare, who, as a t h i n g o f nature, i s s c a r c e l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r her own a c t i o n s , and whose s u b t l e changes and modulations  a r e those o f the n a t u r a l world,  Himmelfarb the Jew i s v i c t i m o f h i s own c o n s c i o u s n e s s . The conflict  o f reason and p a s s i o n , commitment and escape,  alienation  and f a i t h , w i t h i n the enclosed world o f h i s own mind, makes him an analogous f i g u r e t o those p e c u l i a r l y contemporary heroes o f Kafka and Camus. There i s a n o t a b l e change i n s t y l e i n the hundred pages which d e s c r i b e Himmelfarb's l i f e  up t o h i s a r r i v a l i n A u s t r a l i a .  The comment has been made t h a t . . . i n R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t the f l a s h b a c k t o Himm e l f a r b ' s l i f e , though b r i l l i a n t i n i t s e l f , makes a f i s s u r e i n the book and i s not so b e a u t i f u l l y moulded i n t o the whole as a r e the past l i v e s o f Miss Hare, Dubbo and Mrs G o d b o l d . 1 4 The  somewhat f l a t t e r and more p r o s a i c s t y l e o f t h i s p a r t o f  122 the book i s on White's p a r t q u i t e i n t e n t i o n a l , i n t h a t Himmelf a r b 's s t o r y i n t r o d u c e s i n t o the n o v e l a catalogue  o f the  h o r r o r s o f r e c e n t European h i s t o r y which, i t seems, a l l modern w r i t e r s have a t some time t o f a c e , and to which White, up now,  till  has made only o b l i q u e r e f e r e n c e . B u i l t up d e t a i l by s u f f o -  c a t i n g d e t a i l i s a p i c t u r e of middle c l a s s European Jewry, i n -which the young Himmelfarb grows up,  despising his  f a t h e r and f a l l i n g i n t o complacency and  apostate  intellectual  stagnation.  During the c e l e b r a t i o n f o l l o w i n g h i s marriage t o Reha Liebmann, however, he encounters a g a i n the d i r t y and from h i s own melfarb  town, who  i s exasperated  first  impoverished  dyer  i n t r o d u c e d him to h i s w i f e . Him-  t h a t t h i s man  should i n t r o d u c e him  now  to the naggings of deeper r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , and he accuses o f being a l l r i d d l e s and  him  secrets.  "There i s no s e c r e t " , the dyer/appeared to be s a y i n g , or shouting back. "Equanimity i s no s e c r e t . S o l i t a r i ness i s no s e c r e t . True s o l i t a r i n e s s i s o n l y p o s s i b l e where equanimity e x i s t s . An unquiet s p i r i t can i n t r o duce d i s t r a c t i o n s i n t o the best-prepared mind". "But t h i s i s immoral!" Mordecai p r o t e s t e d , s h o u t i n g . "And on such an o c c a s i o n ! I t i s a d e n i a l of community. Man i s not a hermit". "Depending on the man; he i s a l i g h t t h a t w i l l r e f l e c t out over the c o m m u n i t y — a l l the b r i g h t e r from a bare room". (134) The  image of the dyer i s never to l e a v e Himmelfarb d u r i n g  whole o f h i s l o n g journey  of atonement. The  necessity to  c i l e the supposed o p p o s i t e s of l o v e and hate, good and  the recon-  evil,  i s o b j e c t i f i e d i n the t e n s i o n he f e e l s t h i s n i g h t between l o v e f o r h i s w i f e and d i s g u s t f o r the  dyer.  123 In the l i g h t of the one, he must discover and gather up the sparks of love hidden i n the other. Gr deny h i s own purpose, as well as the existence of the race. (135) Early i n his married l i f e Himmelfarb comes across some o l d Hasidic books which introduce him to the Chariot of Redemption, but, l i k e Miss Hare, he cannot i d e n t i f y the faces of the r i d e r s ; attempts to escape out of the s h e l l of himself r e s u l t only i n transferrence of his own image. So that the long awaited moment was reduced to a r e f l e c t i o n of the s e l f . In a d i s t o r t i n g mirror. Who, then, could hope to be saved? (143) Knowledge of his own imperfections only increases his desire to f u l f i l l the covenant, to restore the sparks of the Shechinah to t h e i r  source,  For he was racked by his persistent longing to exceed the bounds of reason: to gather up the sparks, v i s i b l e i n t e r m i t t e n t l y inside the thick s h e l l s of human faces; to break through to the sparks of l i g h t imprisoned i n the forms of wood and stone. (147) But any pride Himmelfarb might take i n h i s Messianic role i s quenched when his wife i s taken by the Nazis at a time when he, i n a moment of inexplicable fear, has sought refuge i n the house of h i s childhood acquaintance Konrad Stauffer. In t h i s betrayal, not only of h i s wife, but of a l l I s r a e l , he i s forced to face his own i n a b i l i t y to honour the Covenant—as he explains to Miss Hare: " I t was I, you know, on whom they were depending to redeem t h e i r sins".(162) During a period of withdrawal at the country estate of the Stauffers, he regains his convictions  124 i n s p i t e o f the knowledge o f h i s own g u i l t , and ...would not r e c o g n i z e t h a t he was not always a c c e p t a b l e t o those he was t r y i n g t o a s s i s t . F o r the unresponsive souls' would rock, and shudder, and r e c o i l from being drawn i n t o t h e caverns o f h i s eyes.15 (166) Only a t dusk would Himmelfarb "begin t o suspect the extent o f h i s own powers".(166) H i s p e r i o d o f withdrawal  and growing  h u m i l i t y prepares him f o r the l o n g journey o f penance. He g i v e s h i m s e l f up t o the a u t h o r i t i e s and i s t r a n s p o r t e d a c r o s s Europe to the e x t e r m i n a t i o n camp a t F r i e d e n s d o r f . The s u s t a i n e d n i g h t mare o f t h i s p a r t o f t h e n o v e l reaches i t s climax i n a f i n a l v i s i o n o f h e l p l e s s n e s s and h o r r o r , when Himmelfarb*s f e l l o w p r i s o n e r , the Lady from Czernowitz, appears naked before e n t e r i n g the gas chamber, c a l l i n g f o r h e l p which the Jew r e a l i z e s he i s powerless  t o g i v e . Capable now o n l y o f h i s own p o s s i b l e s a l -  v a t i o n , he i s d e l i v e r e d from t h i s h e l l by the almost d i v i n e i n t e r v e n t i o n o f a f i r e i n the camp, and proceeds v i a I s t a n b u l t o I s r a e l . On one o f the k i b b u t z i m he f i n d s h i s b r o t h e r - i n - l a w , who b e l i e v e s , a l o n g w i t h everybody e l s e , t h a t t h i n g s have changed completely w i t h the s e t t i n g up o f the Jewish  state.  But Himmelfarb knows the f a l s i t y o f t h i s , and w i t h t h i s knowledge he has changed r a d i c a l l y w i t h i n h i m s e l f . He r e a l i z e s t h a t the redeemer must a l s o be the scapegoat. "The e a r t h i s i n r e v o l t . I t w i l l throw up f r e s h stones-—tonight—tomorrow—always. And you, the chosen, w i l l continue t o need your scapegoat, j u s t as some o f us do not wait t o be dragged out, but continue t o o f f e r o u r s e l v e s " . (202)  125 The  d u a l r o l e of redeemer and  scapegoat i s h i g h l y dan-  gerous t o Himmelfarb, when he a r r i v e s i n A u s t r a l i a and  settles  down i n h i s shack between Xanadu and  search  S a r s a p a r i l l a . His  f o r s i m p l i c i t y i n the d a i l y r i t u a l s of f a i t h seems i n e v i t a b l y f r u s t r a t e d by h i s unknown but e v i d e n t l y appointed  end. With the  a r r i v a l of E a s t e r and the Passover a d e c i s i o n one way  or the  other must be made. I t was h i s own open door which f i n a l l y persuaded t h a t he was the s t r a n g e r whom some doorway must be w a i t i n g t o r e c e i v e . (410) A c c o r d i n g l y he makes h i s way  to the house of Harry  the manager o f the f a c t o r y where he works, and, f a r b ' s own  f a t h e r , an apostate  t r e e s r e j e c t the Jew,  Jew  l i k e Himmel-  turned C a t h o l i c . The  too obvious a symbol of t h e i r own  t i o n , and he r e t u r n s t o the b i t t e r herbs of h i s own h i s mission  Rosetree,  Rosedefec-  seder t a b l e ,  unfulfilled.  He touched the c l a y of Egypt, which time had turned browner. And herbs, never so b i t t e r as f a c t s . That he knew f o r c e r t a i n t y . (424) He then d i s c o v e r s t h a t i n h i s absence Mrs  Godbold has brought  a shankbone of lamb, and w i t h i t seeming c o n f i r m a t i o n of h i s r o l e as redeemer. On Good F r i d a y h i s a l t e r n a t i v e r o l e i s played out, and a t the i n s t i g a t i o n o f Mrs  F l a c k ' s son Blue,  Himmelfarb  i s s t r u n g up on a t r e e i n the f a c t o r y yard, i n a parody o f c r u c i f i x i o n . A number of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s can be placed on event, and  this  i t i s perhaps d o u b t f u l whether White's i n t e n t i o n s  a t t h i s p o i n t are e n t i r e l y c l e a r even to h i m s e l f . What i s obvious,  however, i s t h a t the c r u c i f i x i o n i s i n i t s e l f a f a i l u r e .  126 Because he does not d i e on the c r o s s , he can f u l f i l l n e i t h e r of his  dual r o l e s . So Himmelfarb was r a i s e d too soon from the dead, by the kindness and c o n s i d e r a t i o n of those who had never ceased t o be h i s mates. So he must remember not t o doubt, or l o n g f o r a s o l u t i o n t h a t he had never been intended t o p r o v i d e . (447)  Having been taken down, he l e a v e s the f a c t o r y " i n which i t had not been accorded to him to expiate the s i n s o f the world".(449) It  has been o b j e c t e d t h a t the c r u c i f i x i o n scene i s a f a t a l mis-  take, t h a t the novel i s marred "by the a l i e n i m p o s i t i o n o f the c e n t r a l drama o f C h r i s t i a n dogma".16 g  u t  ^  t  need not be an  i m p o s i t i o n i f the c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p between Passover and i s borne i n mind. The D e l i v e r a n c e of Man  of I s r a e l and  which are c e l e b r a t e d i n the two  alien Easter  the Redemption  f e a s t s a r e , i n terms of  the r e s p e c t i v e r e l i g i o n s , the i n c e p t i o n and the f u l f i l m e n t of the Covenant. But  i n the context  of R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t they  are no more, or no l e s s than, the h y p o t h e t i c a l and l i m i t s of a process which begins over and  unattainable  over a g a i n i n each  i n d i v i d u a l ' s f i n i t e l i f e , a l i f e which can never hope t o encompass the e x t r e m i t i e s t h a t u l t i m a t e d e l i v e r a n c e and represent.  redemption  S i m i l a r l y , the r o l e of redeemer or scapegoat  never be f u l f i l l e d  i n i t s e n t i r e t y by Himmelfarb, while  remains the endless the i n d i v i d u a l l i f e ,  transmigration  there  i n terms o f  f a i l u r e with r e s p e c t to the r e s t of man-  kind does not preclude source of a l l being.  of souls.1? But  can  u n i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l s o u l w i t h  the  In s p i t e of h i s g r e a t e s t f a i l u r e and  Himmelfarb embarks on the l a s t s o l i t a r y journey,  united  error,  with  127 the p r i m o r d i a l b e i n g i n the source of l i g h t : "Again, he the Man Bride".  was  Kadmon, descending from the Tree o f L i g h t t o take the (462) Although t r e a t e d i n l e s s d e t a i l than the other t h r e e ,  Mrs Godbold  i s of equal thematic importance  i n t h a t she i s the  o n l y one t o have a l r e a d y a t t a i n e d the s t a t e o f complete  receptiv-  i t y . L i v i n g w i t h her c h i l d r e n and drunken husband i n a shed a t the bottom of the h i l l ,  she remains l a r g e l y u n a f f e c t e d by the  p a t t e r n of events around her. Despite her apparent  simplicity,  she a l o n e has the power t o r e c o n c i l e the elements of d i s s e n s i o n and c o n f l i c t i n those w i t h whom she comes i n c o n t a c t , and her f u n c t i o n i s t o take unto h e r s e l f a l l e v i l , and t r a n s f o r m i t by l o v e . ° The knowledge and the e v e n t u a l r e l e a s e which the other R i d e r s seek are hers from the b e g i n n i n g . Mrs Godbold, who  to  M i s s Hare i s "the most p o s i t i v e evidence of g o o d " ( 6 6 ) , has her own  v i s i o n of the C h a r i o t : The massive rumps o f her horses waited, s w i s h i n g t h e i r t a i l s through e t e r n i t y . The wheels of her c h a r i o t were s o l i d g o l d , w e l l a x l e d , as might have been expected. (67}  The assuredness of her v i s i o n corresponds t o her own  monumental  s t a b i l i t y , and c o n t r a s t s w i t h the many t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s of Miss Hare, and the e n d l e s s c e r e b r a t i o n o f Himmelfarb.  The nature of  her b e l i e f i s never c l a r i f i e d , because any statement o f i t would o n l y c o d i f y and hence reduce i t s a s s i m i l a t i v e power. She says to Himmelfarb on f i r s t meeting  him,  128 "Oh, yes, I believe. I believe i n Jesus. I was brought up chapel, l i k e . At home. We a l l believe". But added: "That i s , the children do". ( 2 3 3 ) Himmelfarb, who senses i n her attainments quite beyond him, i s i n c l i n e d to r e s e n t — p o s s i b l y because i n her innocence and ignorance she i s incapable of considering any r e a l i t y she had not herself experienced. I t could have been, within her scheme, that e v i l was only e v i l when she bore the brunt of i t hers e l f ; she alone must, and would d e f l e c t , r e c e i v ing the f i s t , i f necessary, between the eyes. He rather sensed t h i s , but could not accuse her innocence. Besides, he suspected i t of being a vice common to Christians. ( 2 3 6 ) Himmelfarb i s perhaps unwilling to recognize that, as Mora'itis  t o l d Theodora Goodman, " i t i s not necessary t o see things i f you know".  19  The moment of Mrs Godbold's most complete release, "closer than you are ever l i k e l y to come",(253) as she i s t o l d , occurs early i n her l i f e when she hears the organ i n the East Anglian cathedral near her home. The e f f e c t on her i s s i m i l a r to the e f f e c t on Thelma Parker of the concert i n Sydney: Her courage f a i l e d before the summit, at which she must either step right o f f , into space, crash amongst the f a l l i n g matchsticks, or be l i f t e d out of sight forever. ( 2 5 3 ) But unlike Thelma Parker, Ruth Joyner has b u i l t up no defenses against the r e a l i t i e s of g u i l t and death. Shortly a f t e r the experience i n the cathedral, she i s forced to carry to her father the broken body of her brother, crushed by a hay-cart while under her care. The two experienced r e a l i t i e s , f u l f i l m e n t of  129 the s p i r i t and death o f the body, are c l o s e l y a l l i e d a f t e r  this  i n Mrs Godbold's mind, and her a b i l i t y t o endure i s e x p l a i n e d l a r g e l y by her very f a i l u r e t o reach the h e i g h t s she once a t t a i n e d as a c h i l d . Not t h a t she a s p i r e s t o such h e i g h t s any more—the  r a t h e r b a n a l hymns she s i n g s over her l a u n d r y are  s u f f i c i e n t reminder o f the knowledge  she alone possesses, and  which i t i s her f u n c t i o n now t o communicate  t o o t h e r s i n the  form o f l o v e — n o t Himmelfarb's " l o v i n g k i n d n e s s " so much as the i n a b i l i t y t o r e j e c t , the i n f i n i t e power o f a s s i m i l a t i o n . That her l o v e i s mute, and dependent on the r e c o g n i t i o n o f others f o r i t s power, i s made evident i n the account o f her r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Mrs Chalmers-Robinson, a wealthy Sydney woman who engages Ruth Joyner i n domestic s e r v i c e on her a r r i v a l i n Aust r a l i a . Faced w i t h i n c r e a s i n g age which she h i d e s under powder, and a f i n a n c i a l c o l l a p s e which she h i d e s under a desperate a s t u t e n e s s , Mrs Chalmers-Robinson seeks v a i n l y t o t a p the knowledge, appearing t o her as s e c r e t s , which her maid seems t o possess. Ruth i s unable t o make good t h i s f a i l u r e o f s e l f , and her employer t u r n s f o r p o s s i b l e refuge t o C h r i s t i a n Science and her own s o c i a l r e i n s t a t e m e n t . Ruth Joyner m a r r i e s the iceman and moves t o S a r s a p a r i l l a , where her love can extend, not o n l y t o Xanadu, where a t one s t a g e she nurses an i n c a p a b l e Miss Hare, but a l s o t o such b a s t i o n s o f i n i q u i t y as Mrs K h a l i l ' s  bordello,  where she meets f o r the f i r s t and l a s t time A l f Dubbo. But i t i s not u n t i l Himmelfarb's c r u c i f i x i o n t h a t Mrs Godbold's s t r e n g t h becomes f i n a l l y apparent, and her shed, i n t o which  130 she has taken the d y i n g Jew,  becomes transformed by the l i g h t  of the f i r e d e s t r o y i n g h i s own  house. She i s s i l e n t ,  leaving  the more v i o l e n t m a n i f e s t a t i o n s t o M i s s Hare, but she, too, becomes i n her own way  " a l l - p e r v a s i v e " . Her own  v i r t u a l anon-  ymity d e r i v e s from her b e l i e f t h a t most e x p r e s s i o n s of the s e l f are p o i n t l e s s — l i k e e x p r e s s i o n s of f a i t h , they i m p r i s o n r a t h e r than r e l e a s e . She endeavours  t o e x p l a i n some of t h i s t o  Harry Rosetree, born Halm Rosenbaum, who Himmelfarb's  comes t o her a f t e r  death.  "Men are the same before they are born. They are the same a t b i r t h , perhaps you w i l l agree. There are some, of course, who f e e l they are not s u i t e d . They t h i n k they w i l l change t h e i r c o a t . But remain the same, i n themselves. Only a t the end, when e v e r y t h i n g i s taken from them, i t seems t h e r e was never any need". (480) I f Mrs Godbold undergoes no f i n a l t r a n s l a t i o n h e r s e l f , as the other t h r e e do, i t i s because  she has no need; she has u n i t e d  w i t h i n h e r s e l f those elements of d i a l e c t i c and t e n s i o n which, i n the o t h e r t h r e e , \ g i v e d i r e c t i o n and impetus t o t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e journeys to the c e n t e r and source o f l i g h t . Mrs  Godbold  goes through no process of becoming: she h e r s e l f i s being, and as such she i s present not o n l y a t the c e n t e r but a l s o a t the p e r i p h e r y of t h i n g s . Mrs Godbold, when she was n o t i c e d a t a l l , seemed t o l i v e f o r i r r e l e v a n c e . In the course of her l i f e , she had developed a l o v e and r e s p e c t f o r common o b j e c t s and t r i v i a l a c t s . D i d they, perhaps, conTo most people, o f course, the s i g n i f i c a n c e of Mrs Godbold r e mains h i d d e n — b e i n g a t once too complex and too s i m p l e . I t  131 remains concealed  even to the woman h e r s e l f .  Even though i t was her h a b i t to t r e a d s t r a i g h t , she would remain a p l o d d i n g simpleton. From behind, her great beam, under the s t r e t c h y c a r d i g a n , might have appeared something o f a joke, except t o the few who happened t o p e r c e i v e t h a t she a l s o wore the crown.  (531)  L i k e Judd i n Voss. her f u n c t i o n i n the world  i s to be of the  world;  (532)  l i k e Judd, she In The  "continued t o l i v e " .  Tree of Man  some of the mysteries  o f being were  o b j e c t i f i e d and p o s s i b l y e x p l a i n e d by a s t a c k of p a i n t i n g s hidden  i n the p o s t m i s t r e s s ' s house. I n Voss, crude cave p a i n t -  i n g s , done by unknown members o f a p r i m i t i v e r a c e , t r a n s l a t e d , f o r those members of the e x p e d i t i o n w i t h eyes t o see, the d u a l i t y of f l e s h and  s p i r i t . I n ~ R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t . A l f Dubbo  grapples w i t h the same problem of somehow r e p r e s e n t i n g i n p l a s t i c form the common mystery of the f o u r R i d e r s . His  own  i n d i v i d u a l e x i s t e n c e i s of no consequence; i t can be made s i g n i f i c a n t o n l y i n so f a r as i t can be t r a n s l a t e d i n t o the forms of a r t . White's obvious  concern w i t h the nature and f u n c t i o n of  the a r t i s t r e c e i v e s i t s f u l l e s t e x p r e s s i o n i n the d e p i c t i o n of the a b o r i g i n a l h a l f - c a s t e , the f o u r t h R i d e r , and the f o u r t h and unrecognized  f i g u r e i n the F i e r y Furnace, which i s made the  s u b j e c t of one it  of h i s p a i n t i n g s . As i n the other t h r e e R i d e r s ,  i s Dubbo's g o a l t o break through t o "the sparks of l i g h t  imprisoned  i n the forms of wood and  stone".(147) But the abo-  r i g i n a l must f i r s t t r a n s l a t e h i s experience  i n t o other forms,  the forms of p a i n t i n g . His f u n c t i o n i s analogous t o White's  132 own  f u n c t i o n as a r t i s t — t h e r e n d e r i n g o f experience  i n the  forms o f words; but j u s t as words themselves can imprison i f the symbols and  images they c o n t a i n are not l i b e r a t e d from the  page to assume t h e i r own  independent r e a l i t y , so must Dubbo  break through the r e a l i t y of pigment and r e a l i t y of the expressed  c r e a t e d shapes to the  i d e a , which w i l l then inform the whole,  much as the i d e a of union expressed c o n t a i n s a l l a s p e c t s of the  i n the C h a r i o t informs  and  novel.  In thus embodying h i s conception  of the a r t i s t ' s f u n c t i o n  i n a c h a r a c t e r i n the n o v e l , White runs the r i s k of e x p l a i n i n g what i s a l r e a d y i m p l i c i t by v i r t u e of the novel i t s e l f as a work o f a r t . Not t h a t Dubbo i s i n any way i n t e n s e l y r e a l i z e d as any  a mere c i p h e r — h e  i s as  of the other major c h a r a c t e r s . But i n  d e s c r i b i n g i n d e t a i l the p a i n t i n g s themselves, White f a i l s where others have f a i l e d before him,  t h a t i s , i n attempting  i n a l i t e r a l e q u i v a l e n t what Is conceived a r t f o r m — a form which imposes i t s own  and  to convey  executed i n another  laws and  i t s own  reality. ^ 2  Whether or not Dubbo i s - a g r e a t , or even a good, a r t i s t , i s bes i d e the p o i n t ; the r e s u l t , however, o f a l l t h i s l i t e r a l a t t e n t i o n to the p a i n t i n g s themselves i s to rob them of any  real  s i g n i f i c a n c e and d i v e r t the reader's a t t e n t i o n from Dubbo hims e l f . But t h i s f a i l e d attempt at an impossible r e a l i z a t i o n does not a f f e c t the importance of Dubbo as a r t i s t p a t t e r n of the  i n the  total  novel.  The a b o r i g i n a l a t one  stage announces: "I owe  everything  133 t o the Reverend Timothy Calderon,  and  h i s s i s t e r , Mrs  Pask".(298)  Raised a c c o r d i n g t o the dubious program of a C h r i s t i a n e x p e r i ment, Dubbo i s corrupted at a f a i r l y e a r l y stage by the Reverend Timothy h i m s e l f , who  s u c c e s s f u l l y i n t r o d u c e s h i s ward t o t h a t  knowledge which his. s i s t e r , Mrs  Pask, would keep from him  the a i d of the d i v e r s i o n s of her p a i n t box. t i n g l y puts i n t o h i s hands the instruments  Instead,  with  she unwit-  of h i s damnation  and u l t i m a t e s a l v a t i o n . His f o s t e r - p a r e n t s between them c r e a t e i n Dubbo.the p o l a r i t y which s u s t a i n s h i s a r t . F o l l o w i n g on from the Reverend Timothy's d e s t r u c t i o n of h i s innocence, Dubbo wanders through a h e l l of s i c k n e s s and degradation; f o r c r e a t i o n o r i g i n a l l y e x p l o i t e d by Mrs  but the  Pask f o r her own  of mind claims more and more of h i s e x i s t e n c e , and the f o r c e s , s i c k n e s s and  gift  peace  two  c r e a t i v i t y , the c l a s s i c combination f o r  the a r t i s t , contend f o r mastery. There was always, of course, h i s s e c r e t g i f t . L i k e h i s d i s e a s e . He would no more have confessed those t o a b l a c k than he would have t o a w h i t e . They were the two p o l e s , the negative and the p o s i t i v e of h i s being: the f u r t i v e , d e s t r o y i n g s i c k n e s s , and the almost as f u r t i v e , but regene r a t i n g , c r e a t i v e a c t . (366) His p a i n t i n g f l o u r i s h e s most a t Hannah's place i n Sydney, where a s c r u f f y c o l l e c t i o n of p r o s t i t u t e s and queers enacts the o f a human behavior  s t r i p p e d o f a l l p r e t e n s i o n . Here he does an  o u t l i n e f o r h i s p a i n t i n g of the C h a r i o t , i n s p i r e d by an nineteenth  rituals  insipid  century French p r i n t found i n a l i b r a r y . At Hannah's  place the p a i n t i n g begins t o take shape i n h i s mind, but f i n a l d e t a i l s are i n d i s t i n c t — " h e c o u l d not master the  the  innermost,  134 incandescent eye o f the f e a t h e r s o f f i r e " , ( 3 7 7 ) Moving on t o S a r s a p a r i l l a he encounters Miss Hare, b r i e f l y , a t Xanadu, r e c o g n i z i n g i n her "an a p o s t l e of t r u t h " ( 6 3 ) ; an almost  furtive  r e l a t i o n s h i p i s e s t a b l i s h e d w i t h Himmelfarb a t the f a c t o r y , when the Jew d i s c o v e r s " E z e k i e l " i n the washroom; and, e s t importance,  of g r e a t -  Mrs Godbold wipes away the b l o o d when he  haemorrhages on Mrs  Khalil's  floor.  But the knowledge which Dubbo seeks t o g a i n c o n t a i n s w i t h i n i t the seeds o f b e t r a y a l . Himmelfarb's c r u c i f i x i o n b r i n g s w i t h i t a c r i s i s of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . The u t t e r commitment of the Jew has i t s counterpart i n the a b o r i g i n a l ' s t o t a l i n a b i l i t y to a c t , and White p e r c e i v e s w e l l the necessary c a l l o u s n e s s o f the d e d i c a t e d a r t i s t who  f a c e s always away from the outer world,  which he r e c o g n i z e s o n l y i n terms of what he might make i t become; h i s o n l y commitment i s t o the r e a l i t y he w i l l h i m s e l f create. . . . A l f Dubbo was s t a t i o n e d as i f upon an eminence, watching what he alone was g i f t e d or f a t e d enough t o see. N e i t h e r the a c t o r nor the s p e c t a t o r , he was t h a t most miserable of human beings, the a r t i s t . A l l a s p e c t s , a l l p o s s i b i l i t i e s were a l r e a d y s p l i n t e r i n g , forming i n him. (437) A f t e r the r i t u a l enacted i n the y a r d , Dubbo knew t h a t he would never, never a c t , t h a t he would dream, and s u f f e r , and express some of t h a t s u f f e r i n g i n p a i n t — b u t was, i n the end, powerless. In h i s innocence, he blamed h i s darker s k i n . Somewhere c l o c k s were chiming. (441) Thus i s Dubbo f o r c e d to p l a y Peter t o Harry Rosetree's Always s t a n d i n g to one  Judas.  s i d e of the drama which i s being u n f o l d e d ,  135 he watches b r i e f l y through a window the subsequent scene i n s i d e Mrs Godbold's  shed. A l r e a d y the experience i s c r y s t a l l i z i n g i n  h i s s o l i t u d e , and b e f o r e h i s death Dubbo succeeds i n p a i n t i n g the R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t . The Four L i v i n g C r e a t u r e s of E z e k i e l are o f course readily recognizable. One f i g u r e might have been done i n marble, massive, white, i n v i o l a b l e . A second was conceived i n w i r e , w i t h a s t a r i n s i d e the cage, and a crown o f barbed w i r e . The wind was r u f f l i n g the harsh, f o x - c o l o u r e d coat o f the t h i r d , f l a t t e n i n g the p i g ' s snout, w h i l e the human eye r e f l e c t e d a l l t h a t was ever l i k e l y to happen. The f o u r t h was c o n s t r u c t e d o f b l e e d i n g twigs and s p a t t e r e d l e a v e s , but the head c o u l d have been a w h i r l i n g spectrum. (494) Thus i s the d e t a i l made c l e a r , the human r e a l i t y  shaped  and c o n t r o l l e d by the hand o f the a r t i s t . Thus a l s o , a t the end of h i s l a s t n o v e l t o date, White a s s e r t s a u n i o n a r i s i n g from and overcoming a world o f d i s c o r d , chaos and h o r r o r ; but the u l t i m a t e nature and purpose of t h i s u n i o n c o n s t i t u t e s a mystery. I t i s t r u e t h a t no a r t i s t i s r e q u i r e d t o solve the problems he poses i n h i s a r t , but i n White's case the o n l y f i n a l  resolution  must always e n t a i l more than can be encompassed by words. The r e a l i t y beyond the forms must be r e c r e a t e d i n the mind of the reader. Just as he had not dared completely r e a l i z e the body o f the C h r i s t , here the C h a r i o t was s h y l y o f f e r e d . But i t s t e n t a t i v e nature became, i f anything, i t s g l o r y , c a u s i n g i t t o b l a z e a c r o s s the sky, o r i n t o the s o u l o f the b e h o l d e r . ( 4 9 4 )  136  FOOTNOTES ^ Marcel Aurousseau, "Odi Profanum Vulgus: Patrick White's Riders i n the Chariot". Mean.iin. XXI, 1 , 1 9 6 2 , p.30 2  Review by Robert Fry, Australian Letters, I, 3 , 1 9 5 8 , p . 4 1 .  3 J  "The Marriage of Heaven and H e l l " , Blake's Poetical Works. Oxford, 1 9 4 9 , p.253.  ^ Ray Mathew, "The Australian Tradition", The London Magazine. II, 6 , 1 9 6 2 , p.68. ^ Geoffrey Dutton, Australian Writers and t h e i r Work: Patrick White. Melbourne, 1961, p.10. 6  7  8 9  1  0  1  1  " F i c t i o n Chronicle", Mean.iin. XX, 4 , 1 9 6 1 , p.477. "Attempting the I n f i n i t e " , review a r t i c l e , TLS, No.3120, December 1 5 , 1 9 6 1 , p.891. Riders i n the Chariot. New York, 1 9 6 1 , p.235. A l l subsequent references are to t h i s e d i t i o n . Isidore Epstein, Judaism: A H i s t o r i c a l Presentation. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1959, p.245. For further examination of White's Kabbalistic and Hasidic sources, see Colin Roderick, "Riders i n the Chariot: An Exposition", Southerly. XXII, 2 , 1962, pp.62-77. David Bradley, "Australia through the Looking-Glass", Overland. No.23, 1 9 6 2 , p . 4 5 . "The Alienated Australian I n t e l l e c t u a l " , Mean.iin. XXII, 1 , p.57. —  1963,  12  The name given to Mrs Flack's house, "Karma", i s i n t h i s respect of great s i g n i f i c a n c e . Not only does i t underline the f a c t that White's mysticism i s not to be r e s t r i c t e d to Kabbalistic Judaism alone, but i t also indicates Mrs Flack's ultimate function as representative of the contingent world of deeds, acts and r e t r i b u t i o n . She i s one of those souls "who protested i n grey voices that they had already been directed to enter the forms of plants, stones, animals, and i n some cases, even human beings". ( 3 3 0 )  137  ^  C o l i n Roderick, "An E x p o s i t i o n " , p.75. "Attempting the I n f i n i t e " , p.891.  ^  T h i s passage, a l o n g w i t h s e v e r a l o t h e r s , emphasizes the s t r o n g p a r a l l e l w i t h "The A n c i e n t M a r i n e r " . Himmelfarb s ensuing journey i s a l s o one o f e x p i a t i o n and atonement, but Miss Hare o f Xanadu, t o whom he t e l l s h i s s t o r y now, i s not the u n w i l l i n g l i s t e n e r o f the poem. 1  1  6  1  7  18  "An E x p o s i t i o n " , p.73. See n.. 13. Her name i s so s i m i l a r t o t h a t o f P r o f e s s o r Godbole i n A Passage t o I n d i a t h a t an analogy here seems j u s t i f i e d . Godbole, t o o , i s a b l e t o r e c o n c i l e a l l d i s p a r i t i e s . In an incomplete and d i v i d e d world, a l l q u a l i t i e s imply a l l other q u a l i t i e s : thus, good i s merely the absence o f e v i l , but both a r e m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f the u l t i m a t e r e a l i t y (Brahman) which i s without q u a l i t i e s . L i k e Mrs Godbold, he a c h i e v e s s e r e n i t y by i n f i n i t e acceptance, and s u r v i v e s the events o f the n o v e l because untouched by them.  19 The Aunt's S t o r y , p . 1 0 3 . 20 White's p r e v i o u s accounts o f the m u s i c a l experience s u f f e r from the same i n h e r e n t d e f e c t s — e v e n Proust f a i l s t o d i s cover any r e a l l y workable analogy, but h i s seemingly g r e a t e r a p p r e c i a t i o n o f the problems i n v o l v e d l e a d s him to i n c o r p o r a t e much more s u c c e s s f u l l y i n t o A La Recherche du Temps Perdu such ' f o r e i g n elements' as E l s t i r ' s p a i n t i n g s and V i n t e u i l ' s m u s i c a l phrase. T h i s conveying o f the experience o f one a r t form i n terms o f another should not be confused w i t h the l e g i t i m a t e borrowing o f another a r t form's terminology. F o r i n s t a n c e , 'image' and 'rhythm', though d e r i v e d from the forms o f p a i n t i n g and music, a r e p e r f e c t l y a c c e p t a b l e l i t e r a r y terms.  138  BIBLIOGRAPHY I . WORKS OF PATRICK WHITE Happy V a l l e y . London, 1939. The L i v i n g and the Dead. London, 1941. The Aunt's S t o r y . New York,  1948.  The Tree o f Man. London, 1955. Voss. London, 1957. R i d e r s i n t h e C h a r i o t . New York, 1961.  I I . ARTICLE BY PATRICK WHITE "The P r o d i g a l Son", A u s t r a l i a n L e t t e r s . I , 3, 1958, 37-40.  I I I . ARTICLES IN PERIODICALS ABOUT PATRICK WHITE "Attempting t h e I n f i n i t e " , review a r t i c l e , TLS. No.3120,  December 15, 1961, 889-891.  Aurousseau, M a r c e l . "The I d e n t i t y o f Voss", Mean.lin. XVII, 1,  1958, 85-87.  '  . "Odi Profanum Vulgus: P a t r i c k White's R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t " . Mean.jin. XXI, 1, 1962, 29-31.  Barnard, M a r j o r i e . "The Four Novels o f P a t r i c k White", Mean.jin  XV, 2, 1956, 156-170.  . "Theodora Again", S o u t h e r l y . XX, 1, 1959, 51-55. Bradley, David. " A u s t r a l i a through t h e Looking-Glass", Overland. No.23, 1962, 41-45. Brissenden, R.F. " P a t r i c k White", Mean.jin. XVIII, 4, 1959, 410-425.  139  Heseltine, H.P. 1963,  "Patrick White's Style", Quadrant. VII,  3,  61-74.  Martin, David. "Among the Bones", Mean.jin. XVIII, 1, 52-58.  O l i v e r . H.J. "The 168-170.  1959,  Expanding Novel", Southerly. XVII, 3 ,  Roderick, Golin. "Riders i n the Chariot: An Southerly. XXII, 2 , 1962, 62-77  1956,  Exposition",  Rorke, John. "Patrick White and the C r i t i c s " , Southerly, 2,  1959,  XX,  66-74.  Stern, James. "Patrick White: The Country of the Mind", The London Magazine. V, 6 , 1 9 5 8 , 49-56. Thompson, John. "Australia's White Policy", Australian Letters. I, 3 ,  1958,  42-45.  Turner, Ian. "Legend into Myth", Overland. No.23, 1 9 6 2 ,  39-40.  Wood, Peter. "Moral Complexity i n Patrick White's Novels", Mean.jin. XXI, 1, 1 9 6 2 , 2 1 - 2 8 .  IV. GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY B a r t l e t t , Norman. "Winds of Change i n the Australian Novel", The Australian Quarterly. XXXII, 4, I960, 75-85. Buckley, Vincent. "Utopianism and V i t a l i s m " , Quadrant. I l l , 2, 1959, 39-51. Coleman, Peter, ed. Australian C i v i l i z a t i o n : A Symposium. Melbourne, 1962. Dutton, Geoffrey. Australian Writers and t h e i r Work: Patrick White. Melbourne, 1961. Epstein, Isidore. Judaism: A H i s t o r i c a l Presentation. worth, Middlesex, 1959.  Harmonds-  Hadgraft, C e c i l . Australian L i t e r a t u r e : A C r i t i c a l Account to 1955. London, I960. ; Heseltine, H.P. "Australian Image: 1) The L i t e r a r y Heritage", Mean.jin. XXI, 1, 1962, 35-49.  140 Heseltine,  H.P. " F i c t i o n C h r o n i c l e " ,  1961,  Mean.iin. XX, 4,  474-491. Hope, A.D. "The L i t e r a r y P a t t e r n  2, 1957, 122-132.  i n A u s t r a l i a " , UTQ, XXVI,  Langer, Susanne. Problems o f A r t : Ten P h i l o s o p h i c a l New York, 1957.  Lectures.  L i n d s a y , Jack. "The A l i e n a t e d A u s t r a l i a n I n t e l l e c t u a l " , Mean.iin. XXII, 1, 1963, 48-59. Mathew, Ray. "The A u s t r a l i a n T r a d i t i o n " , The London Magazine.  I I , 6, 1962, 62-68. . "Writing  and C r i t i c i s m " , S o u t h e r l y . XX, 3, 1959,  159-164. McCarthy, Mary. On the C o n t r a r y : A r t i c l e s o f B e l i e f . 19461961. New York, 1962. P h i l l i p s , A.A. The A u s t r a l i a n T r a d i t i o n . Melbourne, 1958. . "Douglas Stewart's Ned K e l l y and A u s t r a l i a n Romanticism", Mean.iin. XV, 3, 1956, 260-271. P i p e r , H e r b e r t . "The Background o f Romantic Thought", Quadrant.  I I , 1, 1957, 49-55.  Roderick, C o l i n . An I n t r o d u c t i o n London, 1950.  to Australian F i c t i o n .  Ward, R u s s e l . The A u s t r a l i a n Legend. Melbourne, 1958.  

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